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Aug 16

Jon Niese: About Last Night (August 15)

This series with the Pirates is stirring up all those bad feelings from the 80s and early 90s. J.A. Happ has suddenly morphed into Zane Smith and Charlie Morton turned into Doug Drabek. I’m almost 100% certain that Jeff Locke is going to look like Randy Tomlin in today’s game. As a matter of fact, he does look a little like Tomlin.

I’m still confused as to why the team hasn’t been able to score more than four runs combined off the likes of Happ and Morton. These are the types of pitchers you score four runs in the first inning, not over the course of 12 innings. I know, I was there when Morton allowed nine earned runs in 2/3 of an inning to the Nationals. I don’t care how well Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon throw. If you can’t score off the likes of Happ and Morton then you end up losing two games you should have won.

Watching the Pirates brings out the worst in me.

That first inning home run to Aramis Ramirez could have been much worse without Niese’s pickoff of Gregory Polanco. Even late inning errors and Michael Conforto heroics wouldn’t have brought the team back against the crack ace-like quality of Morton’s sinker, but it would have given the team a lead if the 3-2 pitch to Andrew McCutchen goes Niese’s way. Was it a strike? Eh. It was close, and Niese certainly wanted that call. I’m too biased to call it objectively, so let’s look to the database to find out. According to my fancy calculations, and using such things as wishful math, the pitch was out of the zone. Anyway, a guy like Cutch is going to get that call.

Niese lost his cool. He grooved one to Ramirez. Pirates up 2-0.

It was a similar story in the third when Niese hung a curve to Polanco who hit one that bounced of the foul pole in right that I believe ricocheted off and once and for all provided compelling evidence to support the magic bullet in the Zapruder film. That one traveled a bit, didn’t it? 3-0 nothing now.

There were those two pitches really. Niese lost his cool on one, and he spun another. Other than that, we’re discussing a guy that has suddenly transformed into the equivalent of the 1986 Bob Ojeda. Ojeda’s numbers from 1986: 18-5 with a 3.05 FIP, 6.13 K/9, 2.15 BB/9, and 0.62 HR/9. Niese in ’15: 7-9 with a 4.22 FIP, 6.11 K/9, 2.48 BB/9, and 1.02 HR/9. It’s a bit of a stretch when you look at it like that. The FIP isn’t really close, and Niese has a slightly higher home run and walk per nine rate, but take out May when Niese allowed five home runs and 21 earned runs, and we’re discussing two very similar results here. Since June, entering Saturday’s game, Niese has thrown 78 1/3 innings, allowed 67 hits and walked 20, struck out 54, and has a 2.76 ERA. That’s 12 starts, just under 40% of the season, and Niese has been great. Jon Ojeda. That’s my new name for him.

In this game, Niese once again had good movement with his cutter and curve. He mixed his pitches like nobody’s business, throwing all five of his pitches with near equal frequency. Maybe he doesn’t throw the heat of Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard, but he belongs in this rotation, even when Steven Matz returns. Looking over my new additions to the page, pitch types by zone location, the Pirates swung at his changeup 40% of the time out of the zone and nearly the same rate with the cutter. It’s not that they’re bad hitters who swing at everything. Those pitches move. Okay, sure, but those are tough offerings. I almost want to run my numbers against Morton because he did have filthy stuff last night. Can you tell I’ve had my cup of coffee now, and I’m no longer cranky? I won’t run my numbers though. Oh no. Not for Charlie Morton. The hurt is too fresh.

On the night, Niese threw six innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    16 19.5
##   Curveball    12 14.6
##      Cutter    14 17.1
##    Fourseam    24 29.3
##    Two-seam    16 19.5

Pitch Type by Inning

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

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Ball                   3         3      3        9        4
## Ball In Dirt           3         0      0        0        0
## Called Strike          1         3      3        6        6
## Foul                   3         3      3        4        1
## Hit By Pitch           0         1      0        0        0
## In play, no out        1         0      0        2        0
## In play, out(s)        3         1      3        2        3
## In play, run(s)        0         1      0        0        1
## Swinging Strike        2         0      2        1        1

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##              Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Double              1         0      0        0        0
## Flyout              2         1      0        0        0
## Groundout           1         0      3        2        2
## Hit By Pitch        0         1      0        0        0
## Home Run            0         1      0        0        1
## Lineout             0         0      0        0        1
## Single              0         0      0        2        0
## Strikeout           2         0      1        1        1
## Walk                0         0      0        1        1

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   48.78         51.22     23.43     47.15

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       6          10     0.400     0.833
##   Curveball       5           7     0.286     0.400
##      Cutter       6           8     0.375     0.833
##    Fourseam      13          11     0.182     0.538
##    Two-seam      10           6     0.167     0.400

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Changeup Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Called Strike          1      0        1        0
## Swinging Strike        1      1        0        1

Strikeouts by Batter

##       Batter Name Strikeout(s)
##  Andrew  McCutchen            1
##    Charlie  Morton            1
##       Jungho Kang            1
##       Neil  Walker            1
##    Sean  Rodriguez            1

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 80.4 82.9 84.8    8.623     2.764        8.263         1.422
##   Curveball 73.7 75.2 77.3   -1.500    -5.300       -2.081        -6.844
##      Cutter 86.6 87.6 89.3   0.4614     3.426     -0.03821         2.379
##    Fourseam 86.9 89.1 91.5    4.847     5.043        4.359         4.086
##    Two-seam 87.7 89.7 93.2    10.18     2.728        9.733         1.535

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:

2015-08-16_Jonathon Niese_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-16_Jonathon Niese_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-16_Jonathon Niese_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-16_Jonathon Niese_Batters

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