Angels starter Ervin Santana is hoping to not only add a split-finger fastball to the mix, but make it his strikeout pitch.
Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reported about how Santana has been working on the new pitch, which he tried out last September. Guided by sinker/splitter artists Dan Haren and Joal Piniero, Santana is working to gain confidence with the splitter in hopes that it will add yet another dimension to his fastball/slider/change mix. How could this pitch help Santana in 2011?
The first thing that pops to mind would be an improvement in his ground-ball rate and, consequently, an improvement in his home runs allowed. Santana has always allowed more fly-balls than ground-balls and last season he allowed a career high 22 percent line drive rate. Second, if he can indeed make the splitter a strikeout pitch, his strikeout rate could rise to the point where he becomes a real nice sleeper (His current ADP has him in round 18).
If the addition of the splitter leads to more swings-and-misses and more ground-balls, there is no reason Santana can't post a 3.75-ish ERA in 2011 with more strikeouts and a lower WHIP.