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Aug 28

Jon Niese: About Last Night (August 27)

While this is technically a post about Jon Niese and how he pitched last night (the title even says so), let me take a moment to say it’s really nice to see David Wright charging grounders again. Doesn’t it feel like it’s been years since we’ve seen that? Since 2013, Wright has missed 191 games and struggled in games last year due to his left shoulder, so to see Wright making diving plays and recording real at-bats is a pleasure indeed. Maybe we’ll all have to temper our expectations due to his spinal stenosis, and I’m not sure if anyone knows how much he’ll be able to hold up to the day-to-day grind of a baseball season, but for right now, I’ll enjoy the return of the best Mets third basemen in team history.

This wasn’t Wright, but seriously, this happened:

What’s interesting about the Niese’s inning from hell, at least to me, is that in the bottom half of the second Ron Darling and Gary Cohen were discussing Terry Collins not walking Freddy Galvis with two outs to get to the pitcher Aaron Harang. Aaron Altherr had led off the second with a double down the right field line, and he’d moved to third on a Carlos Ruiz groundout with one out. So, with two outs, there are many managers that would elect to walk Galvis and pitch to Harang. I don’t necessarily agree with this strategy. I think as I discussed in the Gio Gonzalez post from yesterday that putting additional runners on, even with the pitcher due up next, can lead to serious trouble. Didn’t we see Noah Syndergaard rocket a double the other day? Haven’t we seen Niese get big hits this season?

How does that third inning start? With a bloop single juuuuuuust out of Yoenis Cespedes’ sliding reach. I’m not making an argument that Harang would have gotten the hit in the second. I’m not claiming that. I just find it interesting that Darling was arguing for the practice of pitching around the eight batter to get to the pitcher, and then Harang singles in the very next at-bat after the discussion.

Darling was sort of the anti-Nostradamus in this four-game series. On both Monday and Tuesday he argued for throwing Ryan Howard fastballs because he couldn’t get around on them (home runs both nights) and then the Galvis/Harang discussion. In all fairness, Darling was arguing for pitching Howard up and in with heat while Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard both left pitches out over the plate. I love Darling as a Met and a broadcaster. He offers great information. It was funny.

You didn’t come here to discuss SNY broadcasters. At least I don’t think that you did. So, Niese, eh?

Five walks. That’s the number that bothers me about last night. There probably should have been more. Niese was sort of all over the place with his pitches last night, and he had trouble locating his cutter. He led off the game striking out Cesar Hernandez with a beautiful cutter low and on the corner, but it looked to me like he left a lot of those up and out over the plate. Both Altherr’s double and Darin Ruf’s home run came on cutters that caught too much plate, but I could be cherry picking.

About a month ago we’re discussing Niese with an 8-10 record after his meltdown in the third. He allowed five runs in that inning, and it was clear from his facial expressions that he was frustrated. After Harang’s single, Niese walked Andres Blanco and David Herrera, and the four pitch walk to Herrera was about as ugly as an intentional walk. Darling made an interesting point that when Niese gets in trouble he begins to rush his delivery, which leads to all kinds of bad things happening.

Allowing five runs is pretty bad.

I’m not quite ready to say Niese is in a slump here. While he’s allowed 12 earned runs in his last two starts, those starts came in pitching friendly environments like Coors Field and Citizens Bank Park. He didn’t necessarily pitch poorly yesterday. He backed off the fastball heavier approach from Colorado to using all of his pitches, and after his one disastrous inning he kept the Phillies scoreless.

Or maybe they were still winded from the third.

Either way, I’m waiting to see how Niese responds in his next start because he was pitching so well prior to Colorado. In my lone trip out to Utah I came home with bronchitis, and I remember once having a very long layover in Denver International Airport. What I’m saying is bad things can happen in the MTZ and it can stay with you for a while. I miss that Ben & Jerry’s in the Denver airports.

Hurt lingers.

As for yesterday, the Mets staged a great comeback and won in extra innings because these are the things they do now. I’m not complaining. In fact, consider this the exact opposite of complaining and this is my early morning high five. Let’s go Mets! Niese pitched six innings and allowed five earned runs on five hits and five walks while striking out five. If he’d somehow managed to earn two wins for this game I’d call him the Five & Dime, so I’ll just call Thursday his Monty moment.

Monty for Monticello because Thomas Jefferson is on the nickel. At this time in the morning it makes perfect sense.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count     %
##    Changeup    20  19.4
##   Curveball    19  18.4
##      Cutter    19  18.4
##    Fourseam    16  15.5
##    Two-seam    28  27.2
##      Slider     1 0.971

Pitch Type by Inning

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

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Ball                            10         5      8        9       11
## Ball In Dirt                     1         1      0        0        0
## Called Strike                    2         4      5        2        6
## Foul                             4         0      3        2        4
## Foul (Runner Going)              0         0      0        1        0
## Foul Bunt                        0         0      0        1        1
## Hit By Pitch                     0         1      0        0        0
## In play, no out                  1         1      1        0        0
## In play, out(s)                  0         4      0        1        5
## In play, run(s)                  1         0      1        0        1
## Swinging Strike                  0         1      1        0        0
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        1         2      0        0        0
##                           Slider
## Ball                           0
## Ball In Dirt                   0
## Called Strike                  0
## Foul                           1
## Foul (Runner Going)            0
## Foul Bunt                      0
## Hit By Pitch                   0
## In play, no out                0
## In play, out(s)                0
## In play, run(s)                0
## Swinging Strike                0
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                  Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Two-seam
## Double                  0         0      1        0        0
## Flyout                  0         1      0        0        0
## Forceout                1         1      0        0        0
## Grounded Into DP        0         0      0        1        1
## Groundout               0         0      0        0        4
## Hit By Pitch            0         1      0        0        0
## Home Run                0         0      1        0        0
## Lineout                 0         2      0        0        0
## Single                  1         1      0        0        1
## Strikeout               1         2      2        0        0
## Walk                    0         0      0        2        3

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   42.72         57.28     26.19     39.80

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          16     0.312     0.250
##   Curveball       8          11     0.455     0.375
##      Cutter      10           9     0.111     0.400
##    Fourseam       9           7      0.00     0.333
##    Two-seam      13          15     0.200     0.462
##      Slider       0           1      1.00       NaN

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Changeup Curveball Cutter
## Called Strike                    0         0      2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        1         2      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Jonathon Niese

##           Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##    Aaron  Altherr  3  3 1  1  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.667      11
##     Aaron  Harang  2  2 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 0.500       5
##    Andres  Blanco  3  2 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      14
##      Carlos  Ruiz  3  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   1  0 0.000 0.333 0.000       9
##  Cesar  Hernandez  3  3 1  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      14
##        Darin  Ruf  3  3 1  0  0  1 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333       7
##  Darnell  Sweeney  1  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##    David Herrera  3  1 0  0  0  0 0  2   0  0 0.000 0.667 0.000      12
##    Freddy  Galvis  3  2 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      15
##   Jeff  Francoeur  3  2 1  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.500 0.667 0.500      11
## 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 80.5 82.5 84.2    6.329     3.506        5.903         2.099
##   Curveball 71.3 74.8 76.9   -4.375    -2.854       -4.966        -4.342
##      Cutter 84.8 86.8 88.4  -0.4305     5.906      -0.8720         4.820
##    Fourseam 87.8 89.6 91.5    5.332     7.850        4.890         6.900
##    Two-seam 87.4 89.3 91.2    8.461     4.425        7.924         3.207
##      Slider 77.0 77.0 77.0   -4.980    -1.270       -5.999        -3.180

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:

2015-08-28_Jonathon Niese_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-28_Jonathon Niese_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-28_Jonathon Niese_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-28_Jonathon Niese_Batters

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