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Aug 19

Jordan Zimmermann: About Last Night (August 18)

If your starters have struggled staying in the game, as have the Nationals (Joe Ross‘ 4+ innings on Sunday was the longest by a Nats starter over the last three games entering Tuesday), then playing a game in Colorado probably isn’t ideal. According to the MASN graphic to kick off the broadcast, an average of 11.26 runs are scored per game, which means lots of extra pitches and bloated ERAs. Give Jordan Zimmermann (9-8) credit. He may have allowed six runs on Tuesday night, but at least he lasted six innings.
That’s like a complete game by the Nationals’ standards these days.
Not all of those six runs were Zimmermann’s fault. Ian Desmond‘s error on a Nick Hundley grounder led to Nolan Arenado scoring in the first for instance. And Bryce Harper‘s error allowing DJ LeMahieu to reach second on his single in the fifth didn’t cause LeMahieu to score on Arenado’s double, but, you know. When things aren’t going well, like your team losing six in a row, and you’ve already allowed four runs, sometimes you just want a few breaks to go your way. Facing Carlos Gonzalez and Arenado with a man on second and one out isn’t my idea of a good time. It’s like French frying when you should have been pizzaing. That Gonzalez home run in the first was all Zimmermann as he elevated his fastball and Gonzalez pulled the inside pitch down the right field line. Are the Nationals ready for Gonzalez to be a memory by this point? He’s been slowly building an MVP case against their embattled starters, and by the end of this series he might tie Harper in home runs (Gonzalez now has 28 to Harper’s 31) if history tells us anything.
After the game, Zimmermann claimed that he made a lot of 0-2 mistakes, and Jose Reyes took an 0-2 fastball over the fence while Kyle Parker‘s homer in the sixth came on a 1-2 curve. The point is largely the same. Putting batters away when up in the count was an issue last night. Reyes’ home run; LeMahieu singled down 1-2; Zimmermann hit Ben Paulsen while up 0-2. Maybe Zimmermann was frustrated with Harper’s error by that point and just let one go or he was dizzy from the high altitudes. You throw snowballs in the Rocky Mountains. Baseballs are a lot tougher on the cardiovascular system.
I don’t even know how to really assess a start in Colorado. It’s been well discussed the difficulties pitchers have there, and any start, at least by my East Coast biased eyes, might as well be tossing helium filled bouncy balls to guys with giant Spruce-sized bats. Things were ugly, then they got better like in the third when Zimmermann struck out the side, and then they got sort of ugly again. It was like high school and then running out of your prescription for Tetracycline. Zimmermann basically threw lots of fastballs and sliders, abandoned the curveball until the fifth and sixth, and threw an extremely high rate of pitches in the zone (60%). That’s not exactly Greg Maddux pound the strike zone sort of stuff, but with a free swinging bunch like the Rockies it’s probably not the best strategy for keeping the score low.
Again, maybe that’s Denver/altitude related.
In six innings of work, Zimmermann allowed six runs, four earned, on nine hits, one walk, one hit batter, and more than a few stoic stares into his mitt while striking out six.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##   Curveball     9 9.00
##    Fourseam    65 65.0
##    Two-seam     1 1.00
##      Slider    25 25.0

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1  2  3  4 5 6
## Curveball  0  1  2  0 4 2
## Fourseam  17 12 11 10 8 7
## Two-seam   0  0  0  0 1 0
## Slider     7  2  5  1 8 2

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Ball                              2       21        0      4
## Ball In Dirt                      0        0        0      1
## Called Strike                     1       11        1      6
## Foul                              2       13        0      6
## Foul (Runner Going)               0        0        0      1
## Hit By Pitch                      0        1        0      0
## In play, no out                   0        3        0      1
## In play, out(s)                   1        8        0      3
## In play, run(s)                   1        4        0      0
## Swinging Strike                   1        4        0      2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)         1        0        0      1

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##              Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Double               0        2      0
## Field Error          0        1      0
## Flyout               1        2      1
## Groundout            0        5      2
## Hit By Pitch         0        1      0
## Home Run             1        2      0
## Single               0        3      1
## Strikeout            2        1      3
## Walk                 0        1      0

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   60.00         40.00     35.00     53.33

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 %
##   Curveball       3           6     0.667     0.333
##    Fourseam      39          26     0.269     0.538
##    Two-seam       1           0       NaN      0.00
##      Slider      17           8     0.375     0.588

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Called Strike                     0        1      1
## Swinging Strike                   1        0      2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)         1        0      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Jordan Zimmermann

##           Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##      Ben  Paulsen  3  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   1  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      12
##   Brandon  Barnes  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9
##  Carlos  Gonzalez  3  3 1  0  0  1 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333      13
##       David  Hale  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       4
##      DJ  LeMahieu  4  4 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.250 0.250 0.250      12
##       Jose  Reyes  4  4 3  0  0  1 0  0   0  0 0.750 0.750 1.500       8
##      Kyle  Parker  3  2 1  0  0  1 1  1   0  0 0.500 0.667 2.000      15
##     Matt  McBride  1  1 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 1.000 1.000 1.000       1
##     Nick  Hundley  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      12
##    Nolan  Arenado  3  3 2  2  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.333      14

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##   Curveball 78.9 80.7 82.2    1.689    -3.575        2.032        -5.056
##    Fourseam 91.5 92.8 93.9   -3.453     7.736       -2.864         6.669
##    Two-seam 93.1 93.1 93.1   -6.407     3.009       -5.576         1.980
##      Slider 85.6 87.6 89.3    1.032     4.202        1.754         2.933

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:

2015-08-19_Jordan Zimmermann_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-19_Jordan Zimmermann_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-19_Jordan Zimmermann_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-19_Jordan Zimmermann_Batters

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