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Aug 11

Jon Niese: About Last Night (8/10)

Self portrait - after Daniel Murphy's 2-run single in 7th.

Self portrait – after Daniel Murphy’s 2-run single in 7th.

I have to admit that I’ve seen enough of the Rockies over this past weekend that I’m ready for them to leave New York already. Those purple shirts are cute and misleading. They make you believe they’re all cuddly and non-threatening while inside those jerseys are purple-shirted grizzly bears ready to rip Mr. Met to shreds.

A little much?

Jon Niese (7-9) may have started for the Mets on Monday night, but the real pitching story of the night was rookie Jon Gray making his second major league start. If this kid figures out a way to avoid all that is bad about pitching in Colorado, then do the Rockies ever have an ace in waiting on their hands. After six innings, where he only had one inning where he struggled at all, he threw 75 pitches across six innings, allowing one earned run on a Travis d’Arnaud home run, his lone hit allowed, and struck out five. There’s an obvious Mr. Gray and torture joke there, and I’m not too proud to point it out.

But, since I don’t write about Rockies pitchers except to make occasional Mike Hampton chasing the money references, we’ll skip past that little bit of wonderful and move along to Niese’s start. Well.  It’s tough to say what was more disappointing: the Mets inability to do anything with a 23-year old rookie making his second big league start or Niese having the audacity to allow two runs. Is there a batter hotter than Carlos Gonzalez right now? That line drive he hit to left-center off of Niese for the two-run home run shouldn’t be possible by a guy not 250 pounds of steroidal muscle. Gonzalez’s homer was his fifth in the last fifth game, and honestly, after watching him hit against the Mets, I’m more terrified of the seven the Mets have against the Rockies than I was before this past Friday. That stretch of games against the West’s last place team looks a whole lot more interesting now that Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado are making baseballs disappear with regularity.

Also, does this team catch everything? Ugh. When the Mets do hit the ball, there’s a purple shirt that materializes out of thin air to put leather to it. Grizzly bears? They’re like Rocky Mountain ninjas with some Scooby Doo ghost magic thrown in. I sort of thought the stories of their fielding ability were overblown.

No. Not a bit.

The error that DJ LeMahieu made was on a bad throw after diving to stop a Ruben Tejada grounder. I kept hoping that Arenado would drop a pop-up to prove he’s human. Drop it, android. We’re onto you.

As for the pitching, watching Niese pitch tonight was as pleasant and enjoyable an experience as Bartolo Colon’s start yesterday was a slog. Niese had great movement with both the cutter and the curve, locating both well. He threw a curve to Gonzalez in the sixth that both terrified me with the ferocity of his swing and made me giggle at how badly Gonzalez missed. He doesn’t miss many. Let me enjoy when I can.

Niese mixed his pitches extremely well last night. Look at those splits for pitch types. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a starter throw five different pitches with as equal frequency as Niese did last night. No wonder he allowed just the two runs. The Rockies couldn’t sit on any one pitch, and with the cutter and curve moving as much as they did, it wasn’t like sitting on one of those would have been much help anyway. Sometimes I think I overcomplicate this pitching and hitting thing. See ball. Hit ball. Sometimes, though, you watch a game like this and you appreciate just how masterful a guy like Niese can be when he’s fully engaged and his job isn’t a nightly open audition. After a Nick Hundley infield single in the fourth, Niese retired 11 straight Rockies.

I was glad for that. I was also glad for the three runs scored in the bottom of the seventh. I’m fairly certain that it was directly responsible for me not sleeping last night (pretty excited by that Daniel Murphy single), but, you know, sacrifices.

On the night, Niese pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs (one stupid pitch to one red hot hitter) on six hits while striking out five.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    10 10.5
##   Curveball    14 14.7
##      Cutter    19 20.0
##    Fourseam    18 18.9
##    Two-seam    34 35.8

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1 2 3  4 5 6 7
## Changeup  2 1 2  1 1 1 2
## Curveball 1 2 1  2 2 3 3
## Cutter    1 1 4  4 5 0 4
## Fourseam  1 3 5  4 0 2 3
## Two-seam  2 5 4 15 3 2 3

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Ball                   4         6      5        4       10
## Called Strike          1         1      7        2       10
## Foul                   1         1      3        8        3
## Foul Bunt              0         0      0        0        1
## In play, no out        1         1      2        1        0
## In play, out(s)        3         3      0        2        7
## In play, run(s)        0         0      0        0        1
## Swinging Strike        0         2      2        1        2

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Flyout           0         1      0        1        1
## Forceout         0         0      0        0        2
## Groundout        1         2      0        1        3
## Home Run         0         0      0        0        1
## Lineout          1         0      0        0        1
## Pop Out          1         0      0        0        0
## Single           1         1      2        1        0
## Strikeout        0         0      3        0        2

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Cutter Two-seam
## Called Strike        2        1
## Swinging Strike      1        1

Strikeouts by Batter

##     Batter Name Strikeout(s)
##  Brandon  Barnes            1
##     Drew  Stubbs            2
##   Jonathan Gray            1
##     Kyle  Parker            1

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 81.9 83.8 85.4    8.373     4.295        8.049         2.997
##   Curveball 72.9 74.8 77.1   -2.654    -5.571       -3.207        -7.242
##      Cutter 86.1 87.3 88.8    1.218     3.258       0.7007         2.038
##    Fourseam 88.1 90.0 91.7    5.128     6.394        4.504         5.299
##    Two-seam 85.6 89.4 91.3    9.439     3.249        8.938         2.039

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:

2015-08-11_Jonathon Niese_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-11_Jonathon Niese_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-11_Jonathon Niese_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-11_Jonathon Niese_Batters

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