Sep 03

Max Scherzer: About Last Night (September 02)

What’s sort of remarkable about a night where Max Scherzer spent more time from the stretch than a Pilates instructor, allowing 11 hits, and struck out 10 batters is that he somehow managed to throw only 108 pitches and last six innings.  How is that possible?  Scherzer struck out four Cardinal batters on three pitches and another three batters on four.  That sort of pitching chiasmus will keep your pitch count down even when the Cardinals made a permanent home on the bases.
The Cardinal batters last night were an aggressive group.  They weren’t waiting around to let Scherzer get ahead in the count apparently, and the reasoning made sense.  Scherzer had a nasty curveball working (a pitch he rarely throws), and if Scherzer was going to offer the fastball, why not take some hacks?  If you remember in my Gio Gonzalez post the other day I mentioned how the Cardinals rarely swung at anything out of the zone.  Well, on Wednesday night they swung at nearly 45% of Scherzer’s offerings out of the zone.  Part of that is because Scherzer has so much movement on his fastball (a pitch he used quite a bit), but it was the slider that caused the most confusion as the Cards swung at those 3/4 of the time when they broke out of the zone.  Oh, if only these pitchers didn’t try to be so tricky.
Being aggressive wasn’t a bad strategy.  They had 11 hits.  The Cardinals just couldn’t get the big hits when they needed them, and since that’s not something that can typically be said about the Cards this season, Scherzer and the Nationals will certainly take it.  The Cards had multiple runners on with less than two outs in the second, third, and fifth innings, and the Cards were able to plate one of those runs just once, in the fifth, when Thomas Pham delivered a two-out single.
As though Scherzer didn’t have anything to do with that.
For example, in the third inning with Stephen Piscotty (a first pitch single) and Jhonny Peralta on first and second respectively and one out, Scherzer proceeded to strike out Brandon Moss in five pitches by throwing offspeed and breaking balls (Moss saw one fastball after hitting one out in the second inning) and striking him out on a nasty changeup and by serving the signature Scherzer platter of sliders and fastballs (away, away, up, and away) to Pham and freezing him with a fastball outside black.  So, yeah, the Cards may not have gotten the big hits when they needed them, but Scherzer worked those Cardinals for 10 strikeouts when he needed them.
Let’s just say that the Nationals and Scherzer needed some breaks to go their way.  Scherzer was in the midst of a fairly awful stretch that I like to call August where batters were hitting a reasonable .287 against him but had jacked seven home runs in five starts and batters had a slugging percentage of .548.  Everything he threw out to the plate was either hit over the fence or against it, and his ERA during the month was 6.43.  He wasn’t making pitches, and anything left over the plate was driven a long way.  During the month, his BABIP in was a sky-high .366, and nothing that happened last night will bring that number down.  He’s still hittable at the moment, but he struck out enough batters to minimize the damage.
I love talking about this like I’m discussing Livan Hernandez or something.  Scherzer has still allowed only 150 hits in 184 innings on the year, and he’s striking out nearly 11 batters per nine.  There’s probably not a chance in the world he takes the Cy Young away from someone to be named in L.A., but it’s not as though his season has turned into an epic disaster.
As for last night, in six innings of work, Scherzer allowed two earned runs on 11 hits and struck out 10.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup     7 6.48
##   Curveball    15 13.9
##    Fourseam    67 62.0
##      Slider    19 17.6

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1  2  3 4  5 6
## Changeup  0  1  3 2  1 0
## Curveball 1  6  3 0  4 1
## Fourseam  9 15 10 9 17 7
## Slider    4  1  4 2  3 5

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Ball                   3         4       15      2
## Ball In Dirt           0         1        0      1
## Called Strike          0         5       11      0
## Foul                   1         0       15      4
## Foul Bunt              0         0        2      0
## Foul Tip               0         0        1      0
## In play, no out        1         0        6      2
## In play, out(s)        0         2        6      0
## In play, run(s)        0         0        1      1
## Swinging Strike        2         3       10      9

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

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

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   52.78         47.22     44.47     75.79

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       2           5     0.400      1.00
##   Curveball       9           6     0.167     0.444
##    Fourseam      44          23     0.217     0.727
##      Slider       2          17     0.765      1.00

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Called Strike          0         0        1      0
## Swinging Strike        1         2        3      3

Standard Batting Lines Against Max Scherzer

##            Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##      Brandon  Moss  3  3 1  0  0  1 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333      20
##       Greg  Garcia  1  1 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3
##     Jason  Heyward  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      12
##    Jhonny  Peralta  3  3 2  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667      11
##       Kolten  Wong  3  3 2  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667      12
##    Matt  Carpenter  4  4 1  1  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.250 0.250 0.500      13
##  Stephen  Piscotty  4  4 2  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 0.500      13
##       Thomas Pham  3  3 1  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      11
##         Tony  Cruz  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       9
##       Tyler  Lyons  2  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  1 0.000 0.000 0.000       4
## 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 83.9 85.4 86.4   -11.64   0.04714       -10.77        -1.334
##   Curveball 79.2 80.3 81.8    1.657    -3.293        2.371        -4.567
##    Fourseam 91.3 94.6 97.6   -9.924     7.363       -8.953         6.379
##      Slider 82.4 85.8 87.6   -1.426    0.4005      -0.3816        -1.008

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:

2015-09-03_Max Scherzer_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-09-03_Max Scherzer_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-09-03_Max Scherzer_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-09-03_Max Scherzer_Batters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.