Max Scherzer: About Last Night

Prior to his July 30 start against Miami, Max Scherzer hadn’t walked three batters in game this season, and now he’s done it in back-to-back starts. Important? Meaningful? Scherzer has sort of been a strike throwing machine this season, sporting an impressive and career best 1.27 BB/9 while owning a pretty ridiculous 8.23 strikeouts for every walk. His BB/9 rate is good for fourth in the major leagues for all qualified starters and the three men above aren’t strikeout pitchers like Scherzer. Well, perhaps Michael Pineda qualifies (16 strikeout games puts you in the conversation for sure), but Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes won’t get anyone confused for Nolan Ryan.
The way things have been going for the Nationals lately, the team needs a dominant Scherzer to arrive to the ballpark each night. Doug Fister has been struggling; Jordan Zimmermann owns the lowest K/9 rate of his big league career; Gio Gonzalez has looked good, but it’s always an adventure; and Stephen Strasburg has been a mixed bag of ineffectiveness, dominance, and hurt. Tanner Roark would own D.C. if inserted into the rotation, but Matt Williams won’t do that because Roark is in the bullpen and the wily veterans run this team.
So, when normal pitchers give up three or four or five runs it’s sort of not cool, but they’re normal. When Scherzer gives up three runs and has a 40 pitch inning like he did against Arizona in the fourth, it’s a sign that things just aren’t right in the world. He struck out nine and only allowed four hits in six innings, so that’s a cause for celebration. He also struck out Paul Goldschmidt three times. That’s cool. If not for that fourth inning, however, we’re talking about Scherzer for president.

Below I’ve listed the particulars for yesterday’s game. The tables and charts don’t exactly tell the entire story of last night’s pitching performance. These are just numbers, not stories, and each start is its own individual story. I like to think of these charts as the footnotes at the bottom of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. They’re not essential to making sense of the story’s narrative flow, but it definitely adds to the story’s richness if you understand the political and religious climates of late nineteenth century Ireland. In other words, it’s one thing to know that a thing occurred in a linear fashion, but it’s best to gain a deeper understanding as to why those events occurred.

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count     %
##    Changeup    17  14.9
##   Curveball     3  2.63
##      Cutter     1 0.877
##    Fourseam    71  62.3
##      Slider    22  19.3

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Slider
## Ball                   8         3      0       17     10
## Called Strike          3         0      0       16      1
## Foul                   2         0      1       16      2
## Foul Tip               0         0      0        3      0
## In play, no out        0         0      0        2      0
## In play, out(s)        2         0      0        6      1
## In play, run(s)        0         0      0        1      1
## Swinging Strike        2         0      0       10      7

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Horizontal Mean Vertical
##    Changeup 81.1 84.7 87.2          -8.547       -0.2153
##   Curveball 78.1 79.1 79.7           4.210        -3.464
##      Cutter 89.9 89.9 89.9          -3.236         2.822
##    Fourseam 91.3 94.5 96.7          -7.540         7.238
##      Slider 84.7  87. 88.6          0.1722         2.073

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.

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

Pitch Location by Batter:


Pitch Location by Pitch Type:150804_ScherzerPitches


Pitch Locations by Batter:


Pitch Location by Pitch Type & Batter Stance:


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