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Aug 21

Max Scherzer: About Last Night (August 20)

You think the Nationals are happy to see the end of Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Reyes by now? I’m sure Max Scherzer (11-10) is by now. Today in Washington, all of the talk likely centers around RG3 and the pummeling he took at the hands of the Lions, but Scherzer probably discuss anything but that one Reyes at-bat in the seventh where he had the shortstop 1-2 and couldn’t finish him off. An eight pitch at-bat later, Reyes has a single, Matt Williams is pulling Scherzer from the game, and the Rockies go on to take the lead.

It’s one thing to give up a run. It’s another thing to have no control over that outcome.

Last night wasn’t Scherzer at his best. Well, if three earned runs on only a handful of hard hit balls isn’t your best, then you can live with that. The final line is better than Scherzer’s last outing against Colorado where he allowed eight hits and four earned runs in six innings while striking out 10. When I wrote about that game I mentioned how Scherzer had overpowering stuff, and at time he was downright unhittable. He left a lot over the plate, however, and the Rockies hit three out of Nationals Park.

He mitigated one of those risks early on with a first inning walk of Gonzalez. No chance of a fastball grooved when you’re keeping a 97-mph heater up and away. One Nolan Arenado popup later and the inning fades from memory. He also pitched around Daniel Descalso in the bottom of the second. The Rockies are in this guy’s head. Scherzer’s fourseamer showed good life last night with run. Sometimes you watch that pitch and moves like a side-armer in Wiffle ball. I’d say I’m impressed, but that’s a given, so I’ll just wonder aloud if the batters factor in that movement when planning on their swing? Is it an adjustment? How do you prepare for that? Styrofoam balls and a wind machine?

Scherzer threw only a few breaking balls yesterday. Six total. I suppose if breaking balls aren’t going to move like normal in the thin mountain air, why even bother with them. He used his changeup (he threw a beautiful one to strikeout Charlie Blackmon in the third) to keep the Rockies batters off balance, and if not for Reyes driving in a run with a double and recording three hits off Scherzer overall, we’re probably discussing how savvy Scherzer was for limiting his pitches to lead the Nationals sweep.

Scherzer pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth, striking out Arenado and Ben Paulsen to limit any further damage after Reyes’ double and an intentional walk to Gonzalez. The run in the sixth came off a two-out infield single by the pitcher Yohan Flande. Desmond still almost nailed Flande at first, and if Yunel Escobar finds another inch in that glove the inning is over and no run is allowed. I bet Scherzer’s had enough of Flande bunting too. He bunted is way on in their last meeting in D.C., and Flande tried again right before the infield hit. What it takes to get the job done I suppose.

On the night, Scherzer went 6+ innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits and three walks (one intentional) while striking out seven.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    19 18.4
##   Curveball     2 1.94
##      Cutter     9 8.74
##    Fourseam    65 63.1
##      Slider     4 3.88
##        <NA>     4 3.88

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1  2 3 4  5 6 7
## Changeup   2  0 6 4  4 1 2
## Curveball  1  0 0 0  0 1 0
## Cutter     0  1 1 2  3 1 1
## Fourseam  14 13 6 6 13 8 5
## Slider     0  2 0 0  0 2 0

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Slider
## Ball                             3         1      3       18      2
## Ball In Dirt                     0         1      2        0      0
## Called Strike                    2         0      0       10      1
## Foul                             6         0      1       14      0
## Foul Bunt                        0         0      0        2      0
## Foul Tip                         0         0      0        2      0
## In play, no out                  2         0      0        3      1
## In play, out(s)                  1         0      1        9      0
## In play, run(s)                  1         0      0        1      0
## Intent Ball                      0         0      0        0      0
## Missed Bunt                      0         0      0        1      0
## Swinging Strike                  2         0      1        5      0
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        2         0      1        0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##             Changeup Cutter Fourseam Slider
## Double             1      0        1      0
## Flyout             0      0        5      0
## Groundout          1      0        2      0
## Intent Walk        0      0        0      0
## Lineout            0      0        1      0
## Pop Out            0      1        1      0
## Single             2      0        3      1
## Strikeout          3      1        3      0
## Walk               0      1        1      0

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   54.37         45.63     35.06     60.70

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       8          11     0.636     0.750
##   Curveball       0           2      0.00       NaN
##      Cutter       1           8     0.375      1.00
##    Fourseam      41          24     0.250     0.610
##      Slider       2           2      0.00     0.500
##        <NA>       4           4      0.00      0.00

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Changeup Cutter Fourseam
## Foul Tip                         0      0        1
## Swinging Strike                  1      0        2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        2      1        0

Standard Batting Lines Against Max Scherzer

##            Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##       Ben  Paulsen  3  3 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      12
##   Carlos  Gonzalez  3  1 0  0  0  0 1  2   0  0 0.000 0.667 0.000      12
##  Charlie  Blackmon  4  4 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.250 0.250 0.250      21
##   Daniel  Descalso  3  2 0  0  0  0 1  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      11
##    Dustin  Garneau  3  3 1  1  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.667       8
##        Jose  Reyes  4  4 3  1  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.750 0.750 1.000      14
##      Matt  McBride  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       8
##     Nolan  Arenado  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9
##      Yohan  Flande  3  3 2  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667       8
## 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 84.3 85.8 87.8   -7.151     2.205       -6.244        0.9146
##   Curveball 81.5 81.8 82.1    1.120    0.2500        2.149        -1.227
##      Cutter 88.4 89.7 91.2   -2.004     4.113      -0.8900         2.781
##    Fourseam 91.6 95.4 97.4   -7.512     7.364       -6.631         6.429
##      Slider 83.9  87. 88.6   -1.930     2.868      -0.9200         1.539

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:

2015-08-21_Max Scherzer_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-21_Max Scherzer_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-21_Max Scherzer_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-21_Max Scherzer_Batters

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