When I first started to get really interested in his scouting reports it was something like:
Fastball plus pitch, sits 95
Curveball plus pitch, hammer curve
Changeup plus plus
It was the change that had me thinking he could really special. Now let's fast-forward to end of last season. Here is what I saw from him.
Fastball 4 seam 94 to 95, good location
Fastball 2 seam 89 to 92, nice movement but not typically thrown for strikes
Curveball hammer curve 12 to 6 with excellent break. Not very often for strikes though.
Changeup 78 or 79mph. Huge separation between that and his 4 seam. This is like when Johan Santana had a 14mph separation and was at his most dominant IMO. The break on his change is a little disappointing though. But since the arm action is good and the velocity difference is huge then it's still a plus pitch.
I liked his 4 seam fastball. The location was usually good but he grooved more than I would like. But he did get away with it because of the velocity. Many times he painted corners. But even in games he had his better location he grooved at least a couple. I didn't like his 2 seam as much. It seemed quite useful when it was in a pitchers count but otherwise there were a lot of balls from this pitch. When Varitek was catching he seemed to call more of the 2 seam but Martinez called more 4 seam (from the games I watched). I preferred Martinez approach.
His curve varied a lot. He showed a hammer curve that wasn't hittable. This appeared most games but wasn't often thrown for strikes. One game it was more slurvy. Too many times he seemed to have problems with his grip. Whether it was bouncing the pitch, almost hitting someone, or wild pitches. I also saw this grip problem when he wanted to throw a 2 seam and give extra movement or on his slider. I've seen a few curves where it was much less movement and earlier break. More hittable but I liked this pitch. Hopefully he will use it more. It can be thrown for strikes easier and give him another option for getting a first pitch strike.
He also throws a few sliders. One game I didn't see any. But when he throws he will get one or two plus sliders in the game. I saw a lot that hitters didn't even offer at on a 1-2 count. Currently it's too inconsistent. Once in a while it gets the swing and miss, more often it's just a ball. At least he misses with it outside the zone.
I hear a lot about his makeup and his lack of pitchability and that under pressure he either collapses or doesn't have a game plan. I'm not sure I buy into that. I did see him try to add spin and thus lose control under pressure. But I think it's more a matter of him not having the best feel for pitches. And his landing looks stiff to my eye.
I don't want to sound too negative. He has an excellent fastball when he uses more 4 seamers and mixes in the occasional 2 seamer. His changeup is a definite strikeout weapon. Why doesn't he use it more against lefties? And his curve shows promise.
IMO if he can go to a standard curve and simplify his approach he could be a number 2 pitcher very soon. Then over time try and make the hammer curve and slider bigger parts of his arsenal. Right now he's trying to do too much.