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Aug 30

Jacob DeGrom: About Last Night (August 29)

Yesterday I discussed how Max Scherzer struck out Ichiro Suzuki with high heat, offering a look with the fastball up and out of the zone before enticing Ichiro with a nearly identical pitch to force him to swing. In Saturday’s game against the Red Sox, Jacob deGrom (12-7) approached Blake Swihart in the second inning in a similar fashion, only deGrom one upped Scherzer by doubling up with the curve to start the at-bat.

It was an interesting at-bat. The end result was a strikeout, which was nice, but how deGrom got there I found interesting. deGrom started Swihart out with a curveball middle in for a called strike. The curve caught my attention because it wasn’t particularly good, and in an early at-bat against Pablo Sandoval deGrom had featured a curve with much more bite. The one to start Swihart’s at-bat was clearly meant to be called a strike, maybe induce weak contact. deGrom then followed up that pitch with another curve. This time he dropped the pitch about a foot in front of the plate, hoping to get Swihart to swing.

Swihart laid off, but it got me wondering how often pitchers follow up a “show me” curve with one meant for aggressive swings, and I also began to wonder how many times batters go after pitches like that. I didn’t research this any further. I’ll have to come up with the queries, but it was an interesting sequence.

Oh, and deGrom finished that at-bat against Swihart with a fastball middle of the zone for a foul then went up and away for the strikeout. See? It was bound to happen. I watch enough of this starting pitching stuff, and I’d pick up a thing or two.

It wasn’t until the fifth when Boston recorded their first hit against deGrom, and he was every bit as good through the first five innings of yesterday’s game as he was hittable in his last start against Philadelphia. He worked both sides of the plate, changed eye levels with pitches up with run and then mixing in a changeup down, and he mixed pitches so well that batters had little idea of what to expect. Through four innings he’d struck out seven, and through five he had nine. He needed to be every bit of perfect because the team couldn’t solve the riddle that is Joe Kelly (8-6). It was like so June all over again.

The sixth was unfortunate. I say unfortunate because Mookie Betts fouled off a 2-2 changeup that by all rights he had no business hitting. Okay, another double down approach was at play here. With the count 2-1, deGrom threw Betts a changeup that had Betts swinging so hard he likely bruised his shoulder on the follow through. It was an aggressive swing in a hitter’s count. It was also a very good pitch. Seeing how aggressive Betts was, deGrom followed up the changeup with another that Betts fouled off the end of his bat. It was a great pitch. Another millisecond one way or the other that pitch is bounced in front of the plate or missed entirely. Those are the breaks.

Betts singled off a fastball that ran back over the plate, and he scored on a Sandoval double to deep center on a fastball up and out over the plate. Like I said, deGrom had to be absolutely perfect. In his second at-bat, Sandoval nearly chased a 0-2 fastball up near his eyeballs and eventually struck him out with a fastball up and in, and deGrom had struck him out with a fastball middle-in in the first inning. Sandoval’s an aggressive hitter. He saw one over the plate he liked, and he didn’t miss it in the sixth.

Baseball’s a funny game. Sometimes you allow seven runs in 2 2/3, and your team wins the game 16-9. Other times you’d like to borrow a few of those runs from the previous start when you really have your good stuff. On the day, deGrom threw six innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 10.

Below I’ve listed the particulars for yesterday’s game.

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    16 14.7
##   Curveball    14 12.8
##    Fourseam    47 43.1
##    Two-seam    20 18.3
##      Slider    12 11.0

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1 2 3 4  5 6
## Changeup  0 5 2 3  3 3
## Curveball 3 2 1 1  4 3
## Fourseam  6 9 7 7 13 5
## Two-seam  4 1 0 4  3 8
## Slider    0 2 1 4  0 5

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Ball                   6         6       12        5      5
## Ball In Dirt           0         1        0        0      0
## Called Strike          1         1       10        4      3
## Foul                   2         3       10        5      1
## Foul Tip               0         0        2        0      1
## In play, no out        0         0        2        2      0
## In play, out(s)        2         1        2        2      0
## In play, run(s)        0         0        1        0      1
## Swinging Strike        5         2        8        2      1

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Bunt Groundout        0         1        0        0      0
## Double                0         0        1        0      0
## Field Error           0         0        1        0      0
## Flyout                0         0        1        0      0
## Forceout              0         0        0        0      1
## Groundout             2         0        1        1      0
## Lineout               0         0        0        1      0
## Single                0         0        1        2      0
## Strikeout             4         0        5        1      0
## Walk                  0         1        0        1      0

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   48.62         51.38     35.04     65.81

Note: Zone % is the number of pitches thrown that were considered in the strike zone; Out of Zone is the number of pitches thrown out of the strike zone; and O-Swing % and Z-Swing % relate to those pitches out of the zone and in the zone that were swung at by batters.

Calculations: I calculated the strike zone based upon the formula provided by Mike Fast in a post for Baseball Prospectus. O-Swing % = Swings at Pitches Out of the Zone / Total Pitches Out of the Zone, and Z-Swing % = Swings at Pitches In the Zone / Total Pitches In the Zone. Fangraphs has a great explanation regarding plate discipline, and I encourage you to read about it if you get a chance. After enjoying my site first, of course.


Pitch Types by Zone Location

##  Pitch Type In Zone Out of Zone O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##    Changeup       4          12     0.500     0.750
##   Curveball       3          11     0.364     0.667
##    Fourseam      27          20     0.250     0.630
##    Two-seam      12           8     0.375     0.667
##      Slider       7           5      0.00     0.286

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Changeup Fourseam Two-seam
## Swinging Strike        4        5        1

Standard Batting Lines Against Jacob DeGrom

##            Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##  Alejandro  De  Aza  2  1 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.500 0.000      10
##     Blake  Swihart  3  3 1  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       9
##        Brock  Holt  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      18
##    Jackie  Bradley  3  3 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      13
##         Joe  Kelly  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##      Mookie  Betts  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      14
##    Pablo  Sandoval  3  3 1  1  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.667      14
##       Travis  Shaw  3  2 0  0  0  0 2  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      16
##   Xander  Bogaerts  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
## Warning in rm(x): object 'x' not found

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 84.3 86.3 87.9   -6.584     3.324       -6.620         1.875
##   Curveball 79.8 81.7 83.7    5.220    -3.140        5.573        -4.769
##    Fourseam 92.5 95.9 98.0   -4.037     8.508       -3.766         7.491
##    Two-seam 93.1 95.2 97.2   -7.729     6.058       -7.604         4.860
##      Slider 88.7 89.9 91.1    1.390     2.763        1.782         1.463

Note: Horizontal movement denotes average distance, in inches, from point of release to home plate (+ moves away from a right-handed batter) while vertical movement is average distance, in inches, from release point to home plate. As measured from the back point of home plate, the x-axis (horizontal) runs to the catcher’s right, the y-axis points at the pitcher, and the z-axis (vertical) runs upward.

Note 2: The corrected horizontal and vertical are based upon a paper by Alan M. Nathan from the University of Illinois nd account for the elimination of both gravity and drag. The corrected averages more accurately reflect the true movement of the baseball.


Average (MPH) Velocity for Pitches by Starters Last Night:

2015-08-30_Jacob DeGrom_BoxPlot

Below are the pitch locations by both batter stance (left or right) and by pitch type.

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-30_Jacob DeGrom_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-30_Jacob DeGrom_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-30_Jacob DeGrom_Batters

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