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Jacob Turner’s 2013 Season, a Change for the Better


Aug 14, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jacob Turner (33) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins concluded their trade for young pitching prospect Jacob Turner on July 23, 2012 nearly a week after this start in which Turner racked up a truly unimpressive line 2 IP, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3 HR allowed. In that game Turner threw 18 fastball, didn’t miss a single bat and allowed 2 home runs off of the fastball and one of the sinker. The Marlins saw this performance six days before they ultimately traded for the young Turner and seemingly they have proven to be correct so far in 2013. Below are Turner’s Sabermetric outcomes for his pitches from the 2012 season.

Pitch TypeCountFoul/SwingWhiff/SwingGB/BIPLD/BIPFB/BIPPU/BIPGB/FBHR/(FB+LD)

What’s most noticeable here is the low number of missed bats, the high home run rate and his over reliance on the four seam fastball. During the 2012 season threw four seam fastball 41.14% of the time, with his second most common pitch being the curveball. Despite his fastball averaging only 91.8 MPH Turner was determined to be a fastball/curveball power pitcher. So called power pitchers depend on missing bats to get their outs and 2012 proved that Turner couldn’t get outs by missing bats. In order to be successful the Marlins needed to remold Turner into a finesse pitcher.

2013 Jacob Turner has entirely different repertoire opposed to his fastball/curveball 2012 self he has become more of a sinker-ball pitcher as this table below demonstrates

Pitch TypeCountFreqVelo (mph)pfx HMov (in.)pfx VMov (in.)H. Rel (ft.)V. Rel (ft.)

In 2013 Turner has thrown the Sinker nearly the same amount as the fastball and has used the slider more prominently incorporating as a partner to the curveball.

Pitch TypeCountFoul/SwingWhiff/SwingGB/BIPLD/BIPFB/BIPPU/BIPGB/FBHR/(FB+LD)

The lesson of 2012 and the start against the Angels in particular is that Turner could no longer thrive or survive in the Major Leagues as a swing and miss strike out type pitcher. The chart above compared to the one for 2012 shows that transformation, the whiff rates aren’t much different. But the groundball, GB/FB ratio and the HR ration are much different. 2013 Jacob Turner is now a groundball pitcher, one that pitches to contact in the mold of Brandon Webb or Chien-Ming Wang. Turner’s best pitch is the sinker and honestly that’s what it has to be for him to be successful in the future.

If July 17, 2012 was the game we found out that the power pitcher version of Turner was unsustainable than the June 29, 2013 start against the Padres was the best sign of what the future could look like.

Turner was truly impressive in that start against the Padres and the reason why was the change in approach. Although one start and maybe even several starts is a small sample size. The fact that Turner has been to change his pitching style and repertoire enough in one off-season, spring training and early season stint in AAA is heartening and a sign that maybe this was the player we traded for not the kid that pitched for Detroit in 2012.