Aug 29

Max Scherzer: About Last Night (August 28)

In the third inning of last night’s Marlins and Nationals game, Max Scherzer (11-11) pitched to Ichiro Suzuki with Dee Gordon on first and no outs. In between the long pauses, the looping tosses to first, and the wide-angle shots of the Nationals bench staring at Gordon at first, Scherzer threw some pitches.  This is the pitch sequence: fastball in, fastball up and in that Ichiro fouled off, fastball up and out for ball one, and fourseamer with run up and out that was far too tantalizing of a pitch for Ichiro to resist. Strike three and a rare Ichiro strikeout. Gordon still at first, and now there’s one out.

Why is that particular sequence important? For the outcome of this game, a 4-3 Nationals loss, it’s not. One batter later Martin Prado golfed a fastball low and inside into the bullpens to left center, and the score was 3-1. Personally, however, I find the sequence fascinating. Scherzer got Ichiro thinking inside, and with him wanting to pull the ball to try and move Gordon over Scherzer then went outside. No off speed pitches. Nothing that Ichiro could pull. On 0-2, Scherzer gave Ichiro a look at mid 90s heat up and outside. If he chases, great. If not, he’s changed Ichiro’s eye level. He has him thinking. I thought Scherzer might try to bust him back inside, but on 1-2 he went right back to the same general area but this time Ichiro jumped at the chance to take a swing.

This stuff is fascinating.

The pitch Prado hit out wasn’t a bad pitch. Scherzer had gotten Prado to chase a slider 0-1 on the outside corner, and he’d gone back low and outside 0-2 with a slider in the dirt. He went back to the same general area with a changeup. A fastball up and in might have been more appropriate. I don’t know. What the heck do I know about pitching? A game that was tied was now 3-1 because Prado hit a good pitch a long way. The fastball to Marcell Ozuna in the fourth caught a lot of plate, and Ozuna drove that one to deep center for a home run. Yeah. Scherzer probably wants that pitch back.

Doesn’t it seem like that’s the way with these Scherzer starts lately? I know I write this sentence quite a bit. There are at-bats where Scherzer completely overmatches the hitter, and then one pitch later the batter has jacked a three-run home run on a pitch that missed too much in the zone. Well, maybe not the San Francisco start. That one was just ugly. But, it was that way against Colorado. It was that way last night. You could make an argument that perhaps the additional time off (Matt Williams reconfigured his rotation to have Scherzer start in the upcoming series against the Mets) cost him a little in terms of control, but I don’t find that to be a compelling argument.

Scherzer has been missing ever so slightly with pitches, and it’s probably some bad luck that batters aren’t missing ever so slightly at all. It’s been that way for over a month now. I don’t think a few extra days off had anything to do with it.

It took Scherzer only 85 pitches to cruise through seven innings. Cruise is an odd verb to use, isn’t it? Scherzer allowed four earned runs and surrendered six hits, but at-bats lasted only one or two pitches. If not for Gordon leading off the game with an eight pitch at-bat and a Derek Dietrich at-bat in the sixth that took all of seven pitches, Scherzer could have finished the entire game on 85 pitches. He had eight strikeouts. He threw 12 pitches in the fourth, five pitches in the fifth, and 10 in the sixth. He wasn’t wasting any time in this one. Maybe he’s being too aggressive then.

Now that he was back in the East and away from altitude, Scherzer did go back to throwing his trademark slider.

On the night, Scherzer threw seven innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits while striking out eight. After allowing seven home runs through the first three months of the season, Scherzer has allowed seven in the month of August alone.

This has nothing at all to do with Scherzer’s night, but I really love it when they show the batting leaders charts on screen. Bryce Harper leads the NL in batting average? Thanks for the visual! I know that nobody really thinks batting average is the bee’s knees anymore, but it makes me think of days gone by when stats were simpler and the backs of baseball cards were all the information we needed. Also, it reminds me of playing Hardball! on the Playstation and constantly checking the leaderboard as Scottie B wracked up crazy batting totals that only a true legend could produce.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    11 12.9
##   Curveball     5 5.88
##      Cutter     1 1.18
##    Fourseam    49 57.6
##      Slider    19 22.4

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1 2  3 4 5 6 7
## Changeup   3 0  3 1 0 3 1
## Curveball  2 0  1 0 1 1 0
## Cutter     1 0  0 0 0 0 0
## Fourseam  12 6 12 7 3 6 3
## Slider     1 4  3 4 1 0 6

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Cutter Fourseam Slider
## Ball                             4         0      0        6      7
## Ball In Dirt                     0         0      1        0      1
## Called Strike                    0         3      0       10      2
## Foul                             2         1      0        9      1
## In play, no out                  0         0      0        2      1
## In play, out(s)                  3         0      0        8      2
## In play, run(s)                  0         0      0        3      0
## Swinging Strike                  2         1      0       11      4
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         0      0        0      1

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Fourseam Slider
## Double           0        1      0
## Flyout           1        1      0
## Groundout        2        4      2
## Home Run         0        2      0
## Pop Out          0        3      0
## Single           0        2      1
## Strikeout        2        5      1

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   60.00         40.00     37.50     55.00

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       5           6     0.333      1.00
##   Curveball       3           2      1.00      0.00
##      Cutter       0           1      0.00       NaN
##    Fourseam      33          16     0.625     0.606
##      Slider      10           9     0.111     0.800

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Changeup Fourseam Slider
## Swinging Strike                  2        5      0
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0        0      1

Standard Batting Lines Against Max Scherzer

##              Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##         Adam  Conley  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##  Adeiny  Hechavarria  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      11
##      Derek  Dietrich  3  3 1  1  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.667      12
##      Devaris Gordon  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      14
##       Ichiro  Suzuki  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       7
##      Jacob Realmuto  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       7
##         Justin  Bour  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       8
##       Marcell  Ozuna  3  3 1  0  0  1 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333       7
##        Martin  Prado  3  3 2  0  0  1 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.667      11
##        Miguel  Rojas  1  1 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 83.8 85.3 87.5   -9.885     1.786       -9.051        0.4107
##   Curveball 79.5 80.7 81.9    1.704    -1.924        2.549        -3.319
##      Cutter 91.0 91.0 91.0   -4.982     2.909       -3.707         1.139
##    Fourseam 92.6  95. 97.6   -8.201     7.595       -7.350         6.732
##      Slider 82.2 86.5 89.3  -0.7109     2.110       0.3281        0.8930

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_Max Scherzer_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-29_Max Scherzer_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-29_Max Scherzer_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-29_Max Scherzer_Batters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.