Braves: What Analytics Say About Kyle Muller in His Debut

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 06: Kyle Muller #66 of the Atlanta Braves delivers the pitch in the first inning of an MLB game against the Washington Nationals at Truist Park on August 6, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 06: Kyle Muller #66 of the Atlanta Braves delivers the pitch in the first inning of an MLB game against the Washington Nationals at Truist Park on August 6, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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We look into the analytics for Kyle Muller during his first go-round with the Atlanta Braves and how well he did. 

Things may not have ended the best with the Atlanta Braves, but Kyle Muller was huge during his time in the big leagues while we waited on some key members of the starting rotation to get healthy.

After a rough outing on Thursday in which Kyle Muller allowed 6 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks over 2.1 innings with just 1 strikeout, the 6-foot-7 lefty was demoted back to Triple-A with Huascar Ynoa ready to return.

But before that clunker, he had been huge for the Braves with a 2.88 ERA in his first seven big-league starts.

Kyle Muller had gone at least 5 innings in four of his 8 starts giving up 1 earned run or less in five of them.

Coincidentally, his best and worst starts came against the Reds. On June 27 he shut them out over 5 innings with 9 strikeouts while only allowing 1 hit.

Which probably tells you that the league was starting to adjust to him and why this was certainly the right time to send him down.

Braves Kyle Muller — Diving into the Analytics

Looking a the percentile rankings on Baseball Savant, it’s clear that Kyle Muller has a very good fastball that produces elite spin rates and is able to get a lot of swing-and-misses.

He was middle of the pack in K%, chase rate, and xERA.

On the negatives, his BB% was very bad, which is typical for young pitchers — especially ones that tall. He also gave up a lot of hard contact when he did give up contact.

The 23-year-old threw a fastball, slider, curveball, changeup, and sinker. But primarily he threw those first three pitches.

His fastball averaged 93.4 MPH, had an average spin rate of 2,434 and had a Whiff% of 18.6 with batters hitting .260 against that pitch.

The secondary stuff was highly effective working off that fastball. Batters hit just .138 against the slider, which sat at around 86.6 MPH and had a Whiff% of 34.1.

Muller’s curveball produced the best Whiff% at 48.1 to go along with a .211 BAA.

Despite the effectiveness of his slider, it actually ranks below average in terms of movement.

It had an average vertical drop of 32.5 inches and a horizontal break of just 0.7 inches.

By comparison, Sonny Gray has one of the better sliders in baseball among starters and his slider has 46.3 inches of vertical movement and 17.6 inches of horizontal movement.

Even his curveball, which produced some good results, ranks below average in terms of movement.

And his fastball, which has very good spin rates, didn’t have a ton of movement.

Not that movement is the end-all-be-all to success, just pointing out what the analytics say.

Max Fried and Charlie Morton do lead the Braves in vertical fastball movement, so certainly there is something to be said about its effectiveness.

And we know Fried gets a lot of vertical movement on his curveball, but so does Sean Newcomb, so … do what you will with that information.

But I think we can all agree that the more the baseball moves the harder it is for the batter to square up.

Just looking at all the information, Kyle Muller definitely has some things to work on when he goes back down.

First is just being able to command all of his pitches and throw more strikes, which again, is the biggest hurdle for any young pitcher.

And then I think he needs to work on trying to figure out how to create more movement on his pithces. Yes, he produced some high whiff percentages, but he also got hit hard when he did get hit.

If he can create some more horizontal movement on that slider, I think that would be a huge benefit to him not only getting more strikeouts but giving up less hard contact.

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But all-in-all, it was a very successful debut for Muller with the Braves and he’s a big reason why this team remains in the division race.