Thanks to Harry Pavlidis for providing me with the template for his flight path charts, we can now create these pretty things that will be thrown in ever so often with our PitchFx presentations:
Intuitively, you know Shields change-up goes slower than his fastball. With that knowledge, you can look at the above charts and get an idea of what facing Shields is like. Shields has the ability to use his change in any count because it looks so much like his fastball until it's too late for the hitter to adjust. The change breaks in and down more than the fastball, but doesn't give itself away easily, leaving hitters - at least those guessing fastball - off balance or potentially whiffing completely.
The flight chart data was drawn from Shields one-hit performance versus the Angels. Of the 24 change-ups he threw that night, seven resulted in swinging strikes. To combine our flight paths and that knowledge with some real world examples, I present this:
Shields owned that night. Hard.