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Aug 23

Joe Ross: About Last Night (August 22)

It was clear early on that Joe Ross (4-5) and Nationals Pitching Coach Steve McCatty were going to force Milwaukee to hit the fastball. Well, everyone except Ryan Braun. Braun got sliders. He whiffed so badly on those there wasn’t really a point in throwing him anything else. Everyone else, however, saw lots of 96-mph heat that probably confused them and made every Brewer wonder what alternate universe they’d stepped into.

What the heck is happening around here?

At one point during the broadcast, you could hear Brewers starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann asking about the slider. It wasn’t clear exactly what he was asking but they’d all read the reports on the Nats rookie. It certainly makes sense.  Entering the game, Ross had used his slider 38% of the time, and over his previous three starts that number had jumped all the way to nearly 44%. Look for it? You’re almost guaranteed to see it in an at-bat, and seeing it a couple of times wouldn’t be shocking in the least.

Ross and McCatty’s strategy worked. Ross limited the Brewers to a run over seven innings (one run on one very long Khris Davis home run), but it didn’t seem even that close. Ross dominated with a fastball that jumped out of his hand and tied up Brewers hitters all night, and he so befuddled Braun that he forced the slugger to try to bunt his way onto base. Scooter Gennett tried the same strategy with more success in the fifth inning, but the point is that the Brewers broke down and employed the Rockies vs. Max Scherzer strategy because they had no other answers for Ross.

In the third he struck out Jonathan Lucroy with a fastball up, and I remember many times last night thinking that Ross pitched up extremely well. I even wrote a note about it. That’s how impressed I was. F.P. Santangelo and Bob Carpenter discussed how Braun wasn’t seeing the ball well from Ross, but all night it looked like the Brewers weren’t as a team. They were late with the fastball, missing badly at times, and anything up was either fouled off or popped up. Other than Davis (who crushed, but not Michael Taylor crushed, a hanging slider), the Brewers couldn’t do anything with Ross.

It probably had less to do with the Nationals ball boys spiking their saline solution with vodka than expecting to see one pitch and finding a mid 90s sinker twisting you up inside. That’s swinging, not emotionally vulnerable, but it might as well be. It was a tough night to come to terms with being a professional ballplayer.

Ross wasn’t perfect. In the fifth he had runners on first and second with nobody out, but he quickly worked through that, and in the sixth, Shane Peterson led off with a single and then was called out at second one batter later when Lucroy grounded into a fielder’s choice. The play was odd because Ian Desmond flipped to second for some reason (surprising everyone, including Danny Espinosa) and I don’t understand why Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn’t challenge the call at second. You’re down 5-0. Your offense is doing nothing against the rookie. Why not take a flyer and challenge the call? What are you waiting for, a key moment in the ninth? It was a close play, and Peterson looked like he got there just as the ball arrived, so the chances of it being overturned are slight, but what the heck. If it works, you force Ross to face Bruan and Adam Lind with runners at first and second and no outs. If it fails, you still have Lucroy at first with one out and no challenge to use.

Plus, it would have been a golden opportunity for Braun to show off those bunt skills again.

Alas, no challenge, no big moments. Davis’ home run came with no one on an inning later, and the Brewers went gently into the night. On the night, Ross pitched seven innings and allowed one earned run on six hits while striking out four.

Oh, and on another note, it’s a great sign for the Nationals that Anthony Rendon walked, stole a base, and hit a home run. Is the point when he begins to play like the MVP candidate from last year. Welcome back, Tony!

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup     4 4.88
##      Sinker    56 68.3
##      Slider    22 26.8

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1  2 3 4 5 6 7
## Changeup  0  0 1 1 1 1 0
## Sinker   12 13 7 5 6 4 9
## Slider    5  2 2 2 3 5 3

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Sinker Slider
## Ball                   0     18      6
## Called Strike          1      4      4
## Foul                   0     15      3
## Foul Bunt              0      1      0
## Foul Tip               0      1      0
## In play, no out        2      2      1
## In play, out(s)        1     13      2
## In play, run(s)        0      0      1
## Swinging Strike        0      2      5

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                  Changeup Sinker Slider
## Bunt Groundout          0      1      0
## Flyout                  0      3      0
## Forceout                0      1      0
## Grounded Into DP        0      0      1
## Groundout               1      4      1
## Home Run                0      0      1
## Lineout                 0      2      0
## Pop Out                 0      2      0
## Single                  2      2      1
## Strikeout               0      1      3

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   54.88         45.12     33.24     56.49

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           0       NaN     0.750
##      Sinker      28          28     0.429     0.714
##      Slider      13           9     0.333     0.615

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Sinker Slider
## Swinging Strike      1      3

Standard Batting Lines Against Joseph Ross

##             Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##          Adam  Lind  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       8
##      Elian  Herrera  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      15
##       Jason  Rogers  1  1 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       1
##        Jean  Segura  3  3 2  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667       6
##    Jonathan  Lucroy  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      11
##  Khristopher Davis  3  3 1  0  0  1 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333       6
##         Ryan  Braun  3  3 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
##    Scooter  Gennett  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      12
##     Shane  Peterson  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      10
##    Taylor  Jungmann  1  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3
## 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 86.0 87.2 88.4   -9.793     5.470       -8.892         4.330
##      Sinker 90.9 94.1 96.4   -9.586     4.955       -8.660         3.845
##      Slider 82.5 84.9 86.9   -1.087     1.209       0.1070       -0.1472

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:

2015-08-23_Joseph Ross_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-23_Joseph Ross_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-23_Joseph Ross_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-23_Joseph Ross_Batters

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