Jordan Zimmermann: About Last Night (8/7)

A pitcher’s intent is one of those things that sort of fascinate me. Take for instance in the fourth inning of last night’s game against Colorado, Jordan Zimmermann threw a 1-0 fastball inside to Jose Reyes. Ball two. Clearly it was meant to push Reyes, who crowds the plate, back so Zimmermann can better control the outer half. The next pitch was a called strike, then a foul, with the at-bat ending in a groundout.
How does pitchF/X account for that? Of course, as far as I know, it doesn’t. There’s no metric except in the twisted imaginings of science fiction for floating numbers that detail what a pitcher is thinking out on the mound. In the database it means it’s a ball, and now Zimmermann is pitching from a 2-0 count where we’d expect the batter to have a clear advantage. Does Reyes, though? At this point, Zimmermann has just thrown a 94-mph fastball near his hip, pushing him back and getting his heart racing. Does Reyes, a seasoned professional, All Star, and batting champion, take a deep breath and focus?
Another example from this game is in the fifth when Zimmermann started Kyle Parker out with a strike, which he immediately followed with a fastball up.  He wasn’t trying to throw a strike there. He just wanted to show Parker that he could throw a pitch there. If Parker swung at the pitch, super. Now it’s 0-2 or it’s a popup. Probably the best example, one people are extremely familiar with because television broadcasters love to point it out, is the breaking ball thrown out of the zone to get the batter to chase.
I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately. It bugs me a little, honestly. More on that later, though. Another post.
Nothing about that 5-4 loss to the Rockies is on Zimmermann. He allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings and even with the one run he almost worked out of that mess after Nolan Arenado doubled to lead off the seventh and Zimmermann got Carlos Gonzalez to popup and DJ LeMahieu. Zimmermann had Ben Paulsen 1-2, but couldn’t finish him off, and after a seven pitch at-bat, Paulsen singled home the Rockies first run. Maybe Matt Williams could have taken Zimmermann out there, but he hadn’t hit 100 pitches yet (a threshold I’ve mentioned often where Zimmermann really loses effectiveness) and the Nationals were up 4-0.
No. Zimmermann earned his keep. There were no five pitch sequences where suddenly the Nats are down 5-0. His breaking ball was sharp; his fastball was moving with a little extra oomph; and he was rarely hit hard at all.
The splits show a 7-7 ground ball to fly ball count, but I remember a lot of Ryan Zimmerman plays at first with grounders into his mitt and soft tosses from Danny Espinosa. The Carlos Gonzalez had a sharp single.
That’s about it.
On the night, Zimmermann tossed his 6 2/3 innings, allowing the one earned run on four hits and no walks while striking out six.
It was a tough loss.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##   Curveball    14 13.2
##    Fourseam    75 70.8
##      Slider    17 16.0

Pitches by Outcome:

##                     Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Ball                        6       24      2
## Called Strike               3       13      4
## Foul                        3       16      3
## Foul (Runner Going)         0        1      1
## Foul Tip                    0        1      0
## In play, no out             0        1      2
## In play, out(s)             2        8      4
## In play, run(s)             0        1      0
## Swinging Strike             0       10      1

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Double            0        0      1
## Flyout            0        2      2
## Groundout         1        4      2
## Lineout           1        0      0
## Pop Out           0        2      0
## Single            0        2      1
## Strikeout         0        5      1

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Fourseam Slider
## Called Strike          1      1
## Swinging Strike        4      0

Strikeouts by Batter

##       Batter Name Strikeout(s)
##   Carlos  Gonzalez            1
##       DJ  LeMahieu            1
##  Jorge  De  La  Rosa            2
##       Kyle  Parker            1
##      Nick  Hundley            1

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Horizontal Mean Vertical
##   Curveball 79.4 81.2 83.4           3.134        -5.627
##    Fourseam 92.1 93.5 94.9          -4.527         8.867
##      Slider 86.4 88.1 89.5           2.030         3.524

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.

Average (MPH) Velocity for Pitches by Starters Last Night:

2015-08-08_Jordan Zimmermann_BoxPlotBelow are the pitch locations by both batter stance (left or right) and by pitch type.

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-08_Jordan Zimmermann_StancePitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-08_Jordan Zimmermann_PitchesPitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-08_Jordan Zimmermann_Batters

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