Aug 29

Matt Harvey: About Last Night (August 28)

It’s been a while since we’ve been here. The last time the Mets lost it was a sad drive home from Baltimore, which also happened to be the last time the team scored fewer than five runs. What a great sentence to write. Remember when we were all writing about how the team couldn’t score at all, and now we go through a stretch where the Mets averaged over nine runs a game on an 8-1 road trip?

Personally, this game was also an odd duck because the PITCHf/x data isn’t available except for the fifth inning and beyond, which makes sense to me now since during the game there were no radar gun readings, which felt like watching a high school game. I never realized how dependent I’d become on those readings. Not only for writing these posts. In general. Matt Harvey throws a fastball, and I have to know how fast that was. That hit 97, right? Talk about letting technology dictate how we watch a ballgame. I even find myself doing the same thing when I go to the ballpark. That pitch sounded very fast.

Let’s check!

There should be an option to turn the readings off. I felt liberated for a night. It certainly makes writing this post more difficult, but it was fun to watch a game without feeling like Sheriff Branford from Smokey and the Bandit.

Harvey was the last Mets pitcher to make a start at Citi Field prior to their nine game road trip, so naturally Harvey’s first start since that game would be to kick off a quick six-game home stand before another 10 on the road. As you’d expect from a pitcher with 12 days off between starts, Harvey was wild early on, missing his spots, and as the game progressed Harvey really settled in. Oh, and that curve. Wow. Last night was definitely one of those nights where his curveball was working.

He struck out Blake Swihart in the fifth with a 3-2 curve, and he threw one that had so much break to Jackie Bradley for the strikeout that it probably cost Harvey a chance at pitching the seventh. The ball got past Travis d’Arnaud, Bradley made it to first on the strikeout and wild pitch, and then Harvey started Henry Owens out 3-0 before striking him out with a two-seamer. That’s what happens when you’re too good.

This has been a pretty remarkable run for Harvey. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs since a start against the Dodgers on the Fourth of July, which is a run of eight straight starts allowing two or fewer earned runs, and over his last five starts he’s allowed two earned runs in 34 2/3 innings. That’s an ERA of 0.52. He’s allowed 20 hits over those five starts while striking out 33.

Last night, the Red Sox had their chance in the first when Pablo Sandoval walked and Xander Bogaerts singled, but Harvey got the always dangerous David Ortiz to hit weakly back to him to start the double play, and that was that. Harvey retired the next eight batters he faced until Ortiz singled in the fourth. Those were the only two hits against Harvey, and mostly it was weak fly outs to Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes and strikeouts. Also, can I say that I could watch Cespedes throw the ball back to the infielders softball pitch style all night? How awesome is that? If the Mets were struggling and Cespedes wasn’t crushing the baseball would I feel the same way? How strong is his throwing arm that even that has some heat? It’s nice to see someone isn’t taking everything so seriously.

The team may have missed their chance to gain ground on the Nationals, but Harvey didn’t lose any ground in his recovery. I was worried that the extra days off would cause him to struggle, but other than the first inning that wasn’t the case. For the night, Harvey threw six innings and allowed two hits and one walk while striking out eight.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup     2 1.94
##    Fourseam     9 8.74
##    Two-seam     4 3.88
##      Slider     3 2.91
##        <NA>    85 82.5

Pitch Type by Inning

##          1 2 3 4 5 6
## Changeup 0 0 0 0 0 2
## Fourseam 0 0 0 0 0 9
## Two-seam 0 0 0 0 0 4
## Slider   0 0 0 0 0 3

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Ball                   0        3        1      1
## Ball In Dirt           0        0        0      0
## Called Strike          0        2        0      0
## Foul                   1        2        3      2
## In play, no out        0        0        0      0
## In play, out(s)        1        1        0      0
## Swinging Strike        0        1        0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                  Changeup Fourseam
## Flyout                  0        0
## Forceout                0        0
## Grounded Into DP        0        0
## Groundout               1        0
## Lineout                 0        1
## Single                  0        0
## Strikeout               0        1
## Walk                    0        0

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   92.23         7.767     489.3     46.62

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       0           2      1.00       NaN
##    Fourseam       5           4     0.250     0.600
##    Two-seam       3           1      0.00      1.00
##      Slider       2           1      0.00      1.00
##        <NA>      85          85     0.412     0.412

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Fourseam
## Called Strike          1
## Swinging Strike        0

Standard Batting Lines Against Matt Harvey

##           Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##    Blake  Swihart  2  2 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      14
##       Brock  Holt  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      11
##      David  Ortiz  2  2 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 0.500       5
##      Henry  Owens  2  2 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      11
##   Jackie  Bradley  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
##     Mookie  Betts  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      14
##   Pablo  Sandoval  3  2 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      15
##  Xander  Bogaerts  3  3 1  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      14
##             <NA>  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 87.9 88.8 89.7   -7.025     5.075       -6.826         3.468
##    Fourseam 94.2 97.0 98.2   -5.210     9.634       -4.950         8.325
##    Two-seam 95.5 96.3 97.0   -7.000     7.035       -6.857         5.994
##      Slider 86.9 89.9 92.4   0.7633    0.9533        1.067       -0.5798
##        <NA>   NA   NA   NA       NA        NA           NA            NA

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:

2015-08-29_Matt Harvey_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-29_Matt Harvey_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-29_Matt Harvey_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-29_Matt Harvey_Batters

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