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The Royals didn’t get the curveball they traded for

What went wrong with Trevor Cahill

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

On July 24, 2017 the Kansas City Royals stated they were all in by making a six-player deal with the San Diego Padres. At the moment, the Royals looked like they had received three quality arms to help the team down the stretch. A lot of people in the baseball world deemed this trade very favorable for the Royals.

Well.... that hasn’t necessarily worked out. The trio of former Padres have combined to allow 49 runs in 68.1 innings. This and a combination of other things are what doomed the Royals in the second half, destroying all playoff hopes.

The headliner in the deal and the player that was expected to help the Royals the most was Trevor Cahill. Knowing that was getting near the amount of innings he threw in 2016, I thought the Royals would be best served by throwing him in the bullpen in a swingman type role, easing some of the workload for him, as at the time he hadn’t thrown over 100 innings in a season since 2014. My fears started to play out from the moment Cahill threw his first pitch with the Royals.

After he was dealt to the Royals, Cahill was noticeably fatigued. He was constantly falling into deep counts, as his Pitches/PA noticeably rose from 3.94 in his time with the Padres to 4.13 in his time with the Royals.

Cahill’s underlying peripherals took a turn for the worse post-trade. The thing that catches my eye is the S/Str% (Strikes Swinging/Total Strikes). The Sw/Str% also wasn’t very pretty also, going from 12.8% to 7.2%. This pretty much describes why Cahill struggled so much. It seems as if he wasn’t deceptive anymore.

There are two big factors to blame here. The first one I wanted to zero in on was the curveball. The difference in the effectiveness of his curveball was about as night and day as you can get.

To start off, the curveball locations were two different stories.

This one above is during his time with the Padres. It seems like he worked a majority of these pitches down and particularly away from righties. This allowed him to induce a high amount of ground balls (10th highest GB% in majors among starters before trade). This also allowed the exit velocity of the batted curveballs to take a hit. He worked a healthy 81.0 MPH EV with the Padres. Went up to 86.8 MPH with the Royals.... and it probably had something to do with the location.

So the biggest reason Cahill was having success, his curveball, wasn’t working out so well after the trade. Reasons to blame could include fatigue, injury, etc.

This is a curveball Cahill threw to Lonnie Chisenhall back in early July. The pitch had late movement, causing Chisenhall to put a funky swing on it, inducing weak contact.

And then here’s a curveball he threw with the Royals. Left it up and out for Christian Vazquez to crush.

Cahill was losing horizontal and vertical movement on his pitches, mainly his curveball, throughout the year.

So like I said, Cahill’s best attribute wasn’t working. And it wasn’t long until other things started to unravel. The command was unbearable to watch.

So blame the curveball for Trevor Cahill sucking in a Royals uni. It was a far cry from his one earlier in the year. The one the Royals traded for.