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Oct 10

Jacob deGrom: About NLDS Game One

Personally, yesterday was about as good as it gets for a baseball fan. I left work around noon, making it home in time for the start of the Texas/Toronto game; watched Texas take a 2-0 lead in their series after tying the game 4-4 in the eighth and letting their bullpen absolutely shut the Blue Jays down until winning it in the 14th; moved onto watching John Lackey pitch one heck of a game against the Cubs (thought I might see my second postseason no-hitter after watching Roy Halladay’s no-hitter against the Reds in 2010); and then capped my evening by watching the Mets play postseason baseball for the first time since 2006.

I now have new Mets postseason memories that are fresher than a stupid Yadier Molina homerun and an amazing Endy Chavez catch.

Hooray!

So, on the excitement scale, we had: a come from behind thriller that kept the Royals from starting their series down two games, a gem of a start from Lackey that ended up as a shutout, a 14-inning game that took an eighth inning run to tie it and now has the Rangers up 2-0, and a particularly thrilling pitching matchup that had a three-time Cy Young winner against last season’s Rookie of the Year who’s morphed into a staff ace.

A few notes on the other games before discussing the Mets/Dodgers game.

Does Josh Donaldson yell at everyone? I haven’t watched that many Blue Jays games this year admittedly, but two of the games I watched involved Donaldson cursing out the opposing team’s pitcher.  The first time was when Edinson Volquez hit Donaldson on the left arm, then later tried to plant one in his ear. Okay, I get that.  Getting hit in the arm really hurts, and sometimes you have to let a guy know about it. Yesterday, though, I’m curious what Keone Kela said to to Donaldson in the 13th that set the potential AL MVP to curse at Kela the way he did. I imagine Kela said something like, “Stop staring at your long foul ball, loser.” Maybe Donaldson was upset he didn’t have that magical walk-off moment.

Then, I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the Jose Bautista bat flip walk. Some might find the bat flip excessive, but not me. If you’re going to walk, do it in style.

I’m really glad to see Colby Rasmus doing well in the postseason so far. In the offseason, I wrote about hoping he found a place that allowed him the opportunity to start enjoying baseball again, and he’s a guy I’ve been pulling for.

Keep doing your thing Colby.

Seriously, Matt Carpenter has 28 home runs? WTH? Also, why is it the Fangraph’s site is constantly opening up the App Store on my iPhone and trying to make me download some stupid app? The site is basically unusable on my phone. Is that because of their ads? So annoying.

Of all the pitching matchups that we’ve been treated to since the start of the playoffs, I find it sort of amazing that Major League Baseball decided to bury the best one at 9:45 Eastern time. I know the game is in Los Angeles, but why in the heck would you start this game so late when more than a few people might be interested in it? How about an eight o’clock start? You have two of the largest media markets in the world directly involved in this series, and they couldn’t figure out a way to highlight a Jacob deGrom (1-0) vs Clayton Kershaw (0-1) start in a more East Cost friendly time slot?

They sort of dropped the ball on this one.

Who did not drop the ball in this game was deGrom. According to Ron Darling with the TBS crew, deGrom became the first person ever to strike out six batters in the first two innings of his postseason debut. Yeah, he did respectable work. It was funny, TBS flashed the pitching line for deGrom after four innings and it read something like four innings pitched, five hits, zero runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. Seeing how the walk was an intentional walk to Joc Pederson to get to Kershaw and two of those hits were Michael Cuddyer misplays on a Justin Turner double in the second and a Cory Seager double in the third, you can see that deGrom was pretty impressive in this game.

Kershaw was pretty darn good too, except for this Daniel Murphy shot:

I’ve professed my love for both of these starters multiple times in this blog, so you can well imagine that this game held a certain appeal to me. It’s difficult to imagine that a matchup between Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole could take second billing over the first four days of the playoffs, but deGrom/Kershaw was about as good as it gets. If not for Kershaw walking the bases loaded in the seventh, we’re probably discussing how this game ended up in extra innings and who knows? A lot will be made about Kershaw’s postseason failings, and walking the bases loaded won’t help quell those voices. I would like to say that Ruben Tejada worked that count from 0-2, fighting off some good pitches, and it wasn’t entirely Kershaw falling apart. Ball four was nearly to the backstop, but still. I guess if you’re going to make a case for a guy who can’t quite get it done when it matters, you might wonder why Kershaw didn’t just go after Tejada. On top of that, Kershaw had Curtis Granderson 1-2, but Granderson didn’t bite on a mid-90s fastball up, and Granderson worked his walk. The 3-2 pitch was close, outside, but it was close enough that a lot of guys swing.

Then this happened:

deGrom had his tense moments as well. Turner’s double on the Cuddyer misplay in the second made it a runner on second with no outs, but deGrom struck out Andre Ethier on a check swing, struck out A.J. Ellis, and then after intentionally walking Pederson, struck out Kershaw. Kershaw as also the final out in the fourth when the Dodgers had runners on first and second and were threatening to score. In this at-bat, Kershaw drove the ball deep to center but right into Yoenis Cespedes’ glove. Sometimes it’s about who’s up when bad things happen as well as how capable a pitcher is of making his pitch.

How did deGrom work the Dodgers? He relied primarily on a fastball that was hitting 97 and 98 consistently early on. He mixed in his slider, particularly early in the game, and he would occasionally work in a curve. He worked up in the zone, striking out Carl Crawford twice on fastballs up and out of the zone. The Dodgers were pretty aggressive last night. They swung at 40% of deGrom’s pitches out of the zone. I didn’t remember too many changeups (10 were thrown apparently), but he struck out Pederson in the seventh on a changeup that had Bartolo Colon wiffle-ball movement. That was a nasty pitch. What seems even crueler is that two pitches prior he’d thrown Pederson a 97-mph fastball, then threw him a changeup that Pederson hit off the end of the bat. Back-to-back changeups? No. deGrom wouldn’t do that would he?  Yeah, he’ll do that. deGrom also struck out Chase Utley on a changeup to tie a Mets postseason record with 13 strikeouts.

Must be nice to have five usable, major league quality pitches.

Aggressive? How aggressive were the Mets in this game as both Granderson and David Wright attacked Kershaw’s first offering to each. Granderson flew out to deep right to start the game, and it was clear the Mets weren’t going to wait around, take pitches, and hope good things happened. I thought the Wright at-bat was big, though. He worked a 12-pitch walk in the first, giving his team some time to take a few breaths and remember it’s still just baseball. You wonder if a eight or nine pitch inning by Kershaw with a couple of strikeouts might have altered the tone of this game.

Just thoughts.

I also think that winning this game is important for Saturday’s game as well. Of course, it’s preferable to start a best of five series 1-0, but you have a young guy in Noah Syndergaard starting game two, and winning the first one takes a little pressure off of him. Instead of coming out and overthrowing, Syndergaard can hit 100-mph on the radar gun and not stress himself out.

Wondering why this Mets team is dangerous?

On the night, deGrom pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 13 while allowing five hits and one intentional walk. He also laid down one heck of a sacrifice bunt in the seventh, which gives me hope that the pitchers actually know how to bunt. In the regular season, I don’t remember too many of those.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    10 8.26
##   Curveball    11 9.09
##    Fourseam    45 37.2
##    Two-seam    31 25.6
##          IN     4 3.31
##      Slider    20 16.5

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1  2 3 4 5 6  7
## Changeup  0  1 3 2 0 0  4
## Curveball 1  3 1 2 1 2  1
## Fourseam  8 13 2 7 2 2 11
## Two-seam  9  0 6 6 3 5  2
## IN        0  4 0 0 0 0  0
## Slider    2  4 2 4 5 1  2

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam IN Slider
## Ball                   1         3       13       12  0      5
## Ball In Dirt           2         2        0        0  0      0
## Called Strike          1         2        7        2  0      5
## Foul                   1         2       12        4  0      6
## Foul Tip               0         0        1        1  0      0
## In play, no out        1         0        2        2  0      0
## In play, out(s)        0         1        5        2  0      0
## Intent Ball            0         0        0        0  4      0
## Swinging Strike        4         1        5        8  0      4

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##             Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam IN Slider
## Double             0         0        1        1  0      0
## Flyout             0         1        3        0  0      0
## Groundout          0         0        1        1  0      0
## Intent Walk        0         0        0        0  1      0
## Pop Out            0         0        1        1  0      0
## Single             1         0        1        1  0      0
## Strikeout          4         1        4        2  0      2

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   54.55         45.45     39.60     77.00

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       5           5     0.400     0.800
##   Curveball       5           6     0.167     0.600
##    Fourseam      25          20     0.400     0.640
##    Two-seam      20          11     0.273     0.650
##          IN       0           4      0.00       NaN
##      Slider      11           9     0.444     0.545

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Foul Tip               0         0        0        1      0
## Swinging Strike        4         1        4        1      2

Standard Batting Lines Against Jacob DeGrom

##           Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##       A.J.  Ellis  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      16
##  Adrian  Gonzalez  3  3 0  0  0  0 3  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      20
##     Andre  Ethier  3  3 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      11
##    Carl  Crawford  3  3 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      14
##      Chase  Utley  1  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##  Clayton  Kershaw  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      12
##     Corey  Seager  3  3 1  1  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.667       9
##  Howard Kendrick  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       9
##     Joc  Pederson  3  2 0  0  0  0 1  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      14
##    Justin  Turner  3  3 2  1  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.000      11

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 84.6 86.1 87.1   -7.449   0.02200       -7.379        -1.308
##   Curveball 81.1 82.4 83.4    4.140    -3.803        4.567        -5.102
##    Fourseam 94.7 96.5 98.3   -4.075     7.609       -3.844         6.720
##    Two-seam 88.4 96.5 97.9   -7.549     5.500       -7.527         4.530
##          IN 71.9 74.4 76.3   -4.697     6.550       -5.833         6.309
##      Slider 87.4 90.0 92.9   0.8410     1.308        1.286        0.2337

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 corner 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 up and down.

Note 2: The corrected horizontal and vertical are based upon a paper by Alan M. Nathan from the University of Illinois and 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:

2015-10-10_Jacob DeGrom_BoxPlotBelow are the pitch locations by both batter stance (left or right) and by pitch type.

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-10-10_Jacob DeGrom_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-10-10_Jacob DeGrom_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-10-10_Jacob DeGrom_Batters

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