On July 21st, White Sox pitcher Dylan Covey threw a two-hit, 105 pitch complete game shutout against the Seattle Mariners.
Covey, who struggled during his first season as a White Sox player with a 0-7 record, has shown improvement this past season by dropping his ERA from 7.71 to 4.95.
The use of his curveball appears to be an effective feature when Covey showcases it in his repertoire.
Without the curveball
On June 29th and July 4th against the Rangers and Reds, respectively, Covey had two of his shortest appearances this year (both losses). According to Baseball Reference, he threw just 74 pitches against Texas in 2.1 innings while giving up 8 hits, 9 earned runs, 3 walks, and not a single strikeout. In his next appearance against Cincinnati, he lasted only 3.2 innings while giving up 5 hits, and 6 earned runs.
Even though his walk-to-strikeout ratio improved, he still picked up the loss. Below are some numbers from those two games:
Covey’s 74 pitch performance on the June 29 featured the following pitches:
- 1 fastball
- 50 sinkers
- 7 changeups
- 10 sliders
- 6 curveballs
Covey’s 76 pitch performance on Independence Day featured the following pitches:
- 2 fastballs
- 52 sliders
- 9 changeups
- 13 sliders
- 1 curveball
As you can see, Covey relies heavily on his sinker and slider. He’s done this throughout his career. Comparing these stats to not only last night’s game but the game on June 8th in which Covey pitched six innings of shutout ball against Boston while giving up only three hits and striking out seven (Chicago won 1-0), there are some differences in his pitch selection.
With the curveball
June 8th’s 83 pitch game:
- 52 sinkers
- 3 changeups
- 17 sliders
- 11 curveballs
July 21st’s 105 pitch game:
- 68 sinkers
- 8 changeups
- 12 sliders
- 17 curveballs
As mentioned, Covey relies heavily on his sinker and slider. So the fact that there’s a large percentage of these shown during both the games he won and the games he lost isn’t too surprising. However, in looking at these stats, what does seem surprising is the difference in # of curveballs thrown.
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In his two losses, Covey’s 74-pitch performance in the game against Texas on June 29th featured only 6 curveballs, while his 76-pitch loss on July 4th featured only one curveball. That makes for a percentage of 8% and approximately 1% of curveballs thrown during each game, respectively.
Conversely – in the two starts that he won – the 11 curveballs he threw in an 83-pitch game on June 8th and 17 curveballs on July 21st’s 105 pitch victory account for 13% and 16% of pitches thrown, respectively. Notably – on July 21st’s two-hit shutout against Seattle – he featured more curveballs than sliders.
This could be a new strategy of pitching coach Don Cooper as he and Covey work together towards lowering his ERA. It also might explain why Seattle had such a hard time hitting Covey last night, as their scouting report based on past history probably told them that Covey’s pitch selection would be much different.
Time will tell what Covey is going to throw going forward. In all likelihood, even as he develops his curveball, he will have to make adjustments – as teams will adjust their scouting reports once they notice in new tendencies in Covey’s pitching selection and tendencies. Nevertheless – for Sox fans – it’s a hopeful sign coming off of the All-Star Break that Covey pitched so effectively against one of the better teams in baseball this season.