Brewers Sign Neal Cotts | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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Brewers Sign Neal Cotts

By on January 30, 2015

Yesterday, news surfaced that the Brewers signed lefty reliever Neal Cotts to a one-year deal. News is now surfacing that the pending 40-man move to make space for Cotts will be announced by the Brewers.

Most analysis thus far has focused on Cotts’ extensive injury history, as well as his phenomenal journey back to the MLB after missing a few years. The lefty also has unexpected splits from a southpaw, as Cotts can be better against righty batters than lefty batters at times. This might actually bode well for the Brewers’ bullpen, since Runnin’ Ron Roenicke will have an opportunity to use Cotts as more than a specialist.

Another area of interest must be explored: Cotts’ release point has fluctuated over the last two seasons, as the lefty inches closer and closer to a high release point for his primary fastball. Given the Brewers’ preference for over-the-top deliveries, one wonders if they sense another chance to seize a mechanical adjustment (as the club did with Zach Duke in 2014, albeit from the opposite direction, to a down-low delivery). Cotts’ splits over the last few years fluctuate, but viewed alongside his inching release points, there is some sense that Cotts found more success while settling into a “sweet spot.” When his release point inched too high at the close of 2014, he did not have much success, and but a “middle ground” release point at the end of 2013 found Cotts settle into success.

Cotts Primary FB Release Point OPS
May 2013 5.75-5.87 .327
June 2013 5.87-5.93 .519
July 2013 5.93-6.00 .509
August 2013 5.93 .592
September 2013 5.97 .455
April 2014 5.98 .804
May 2014 5.96 .618
June 2014 5.99 .583
July 2014 5.98 .784
August 2014 5.98-6.00 .700
September 2014 6.00-6.03 .818

Release point in feet, from Brooks Baseball. OPS from Baseball-Reference.

Cotts could also find a solid home with the Brewers coaching staff, given his preferred pitches. During his 2013-2014 comeback, Cotts tossed a fastball, sinker or cutter in more than 90% of his offerings. His top secondary offering was a slider, which means that basically 99% of his pitches were fastball, cutter, or slider. Notably, Cotts’ slider and cutter enter the zone at two different speeds (compared to his fastball), which means that the southpaw basically has a primary breaking ball (the cutter) and a “change up curve” (the slider). These pitches also overwhelmingly produce groundballs, which makes Cotts even more of a “Brewers” pitcher than we ever knew. Look for the lefty to find a solid home with a pitching staff that favors moving fastballs and sliders, and a coaching staff that knows how to work with this type of pitching profile.

Resources
BaseballProspectus. Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, LLC., 1996-2015.
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC., 2000-2015.

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