The Henry Owens Changeup Is a Thing of Beauty

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One of the few bright spots of the 2015 season for the Boston Red Sox has been the development of the young players. Both young pitchers and young position players have shown that they belong in the big leagues. Ian York takes a look at the Henry Owens changeup and how it allows him to succeed at the highest level.

Henry Owens pitched his last Fenway start of the season on Sept. 27 against the Orioles, and it was another very good outing for the left-hander: 7 ⅔ scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and one walk. Even with a few ugly starts along the way, Owens has convincingly shown that he can handle major league competition already, at the age of 23.

The changeup may be the most impressive weapon Owens has in his arsenal. He throws a lot of them (27.3% of his pitches to right-handed batters and 17.6% to lefties this season), and threw even more Sunday against the Orioles (37.5% to righties, 25% to lefties).

His changeup location was, as usual, excellent, painting the bottom corner of the strike zone:

Owens also draws a huge percentage of swinging strikes on the pitch: 24.6% of his changeups have led to whiffs this season, and 24.3 of them were swinging strikes that game.

His first-inning at-bat against Manny Machado showed off the full repertoire of pitches he can call on. After getting two quick strikes with fastballs, nicely located at the top and bottom of the zone, Owens then wasted a curve well outside the zone which Machado wasn’t anxious enough to offer at. Owens next tried a slider (unusual against a right-handed batter; he normally reserves the slider for lefties) and a changeup below the zone. Again Machado didn’t bite, running the count full. Owens came back with another changeup on the 3-2 count, placing it perfectly on the low outside corner. Machado had to swing, but missed for a swinging strikeout.

Owens strengths lie in his ability to locate his pitches, and his confidence in being able to use them in any pitch count. His minor-league success was clearly no accident, and it has carried over well into his major-league career. Expect to see more of Owens in the rotation in 2016, even if he isn’t on the Opening Day roster.

Ian York has written about Xander Bogaerts, Rich Hill, Joe Kelly’s approach in certain counts, theeffect of better bullpens on offensive strategy, Rick Porcello’s resurgenceMatt Barnes’ first start, the much improved Jackie Bradley Jr., and Wade Davis.

Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork.

Check out Brandon Magee’s Salem Red Sox pitching reviewTom Wright’s elimination article about the Boston Red Sox and our This Week In Baseball Writing.

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