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Aug 10

Max Scherzer: About Yesterday Afternoon (8/9)

Even now, it’s a little hard to process Max Scherzer’s outing. He hung a curve to Carlos Gonzalez in the first, but after that, he was cranking it up to 98 (I’ve only seen Scherzer throw that hard a few times this year. He hit 97-mph or higher three times yesterday and remained comfortably 95 or higher). In that second Gonzalez at-bat, he blew him away with a 97-mph fastball up and away.

Much like Stephen Strasburg did on Saturday, there was no way Gonzalez was catching up with that pitch.

At one point, after the Gonzalez home run in the first, Scherzer struck out five of the next seven batters, and he finished with 10 on the afternoon. The Nats were up 3-1, and that one run allowed looked like Scherzer had made his one mistake, and he was determined to not let it happen again.

So what happened?

He challenged Daniel Descalso for one. Entering Sunday, Descalso had hit 13 home runs in 1519 career plate appearances. He had three on the season. Maybe with better sense, Scherzer doesn’t groove one right down the heart of the plate, but Descalso is exactly the sort of player you challenge. Especially when you’re feeling it like Scherzer was at the moment. When you’re Max Scherzer, you’re paid to challenge guys who are hitting .216/.285/.336 with seven total extra base hits on the season.

Sometimes you get hurt by it.

If you think about it this way, in the third inning the Rockies tried to bunt their way to runs. With three straight bunts by the pitcher Yohan Flande, Charlie Blackmon, and Jose Reyes, it looked as though Colorado was going to either force Yunel Escobar to play third like a high school softball player or they were going to wear out the grass down the third base line. It was interesting strategy. One you employ against the game’s best. Scherzer struck out Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado on three pitches each.

The second home run by Gonzalez was a good swing on a pitch that missed his location. He got him with that fastball up and out of the zone in the third. In the sixth, the fastball got too much plate and Gonzalez made him pay. He hung a first pitch slider to Kyle Parker to plate Ben Paulsen (doubled earlier on a first pitch fastball) for the 4-3 lead.

While Scherzer was blowing guys away, I don’t recall seeing the sharp slider or many offspeed pitches in general. It was mostly fastballs, challenging the Rockies, and eventually the caught up to it and made Scherzer pay.

Coupled with Drew Storen sort of melting down in the eighth again, it turned into a 6-4 loss. Another tough one in a series the team rightfully had a chance to sweep. On the day, Scherzer tossed six innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and one intentional walk (to Descalso!) with 10 strikeouts.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    10 11.9
##   Curveball     2 2.38
##    Fourseam    59 70.2
##      Slider    11 13.1
##        <NA>     2 2.38

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1 2  3 4  5  6
## Changeup   1 0  1 1  3  4
## Curveball  1 0  0 0  1  0
## Fourseam  12 9 10 8 10 10
## Slider     2 0  1 2  0  6

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Ball                             3         1       13      2
## Called Strike                    1         0        8      1
## Foul                             3         0        9      3
## Foul Tip                         0         0        1      0
## In play, no out                  0         0        3      1
## In play, out(s)                  2         0        6      0
## In play, run(s)                  0         1        2      1
## Intent Ball                      0         0        0      0
## Swinging Strike                  0         0       17      3
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        1         0        0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##              Changeup Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Bunt Pop Out        0         0        1      0
## Double              0         0        1      0
## Flyout              1         0        1      0
## Groundout           1         0        1      0
## Home Run            0         1        2      0
## Intent Walk         0         0        0      0
## Pop Out             0         0        2      0
## Runner Out          0         0        1      0
## Sac Bunt            0         0        1      0
## Single              0         0        2      2
## Strikeout           1         0        8      1

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Changeup Fourseam Slider
## Swinging Strike                  0        8      1
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        1        0      0

Strikeouts by Batter

##      Batter Name Strikeout(s)
##      Ben  Paulsen            1
##   Brandon  Barnes            1
##  Carlos  Gonzalez            1
##  Daniel  Descalso            1
##       Jose  Reyes            1
##      Kyle  Parker            2
##  Michael  McKenry            1
##    Nolan  Arenado            2

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 84.3 85.5 87.2   -7.424    0.9200       -6.823       -0.1831
##   Curveball 78.9 79.8 80.8    3.450    -2.035        4.197        -3.300
##    Fourseam 91.2 94.2 97.9   -7.294     7.439       -6.401         6.643
##      Slider 85.2 86.6 88.9    1.046     1.125        2.070       0.01325

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:

2015-08-10_Max Scherzer_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-10_Max Scherzer_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-10_Max Scherzer_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-10_Max Scherzer_Batters

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