There seems to be a revolution against the grounder, as hitters and coaches alike are expressing the need to hit more fly balls. One way for pitchers to combat hitters who try to lift the ball is to throw high four-seamers. The Rays, noted early adopters of trendy stats, led the league in upper-half fastballs in 2016, throwing nearly 20 percent more than their rate in 2012.
The Cubs ranked fourth lowest on that same list. Nevertheless, we’ve seen how elevating more fastballs can be advantageous, as evidenced by Kyle Hendricks’ increased usage of the four-seamer as the 2016 season progressed.
As the league continues to adjust to pitching by perhaps hitting more fly balls, we’ll want to monitor how Cubs pitchers respond.