Aug 14

Noah Syndergaard: About Yesterday Afternoon (August 13)

No one ever said this pitching thing was easy. Throw too many fastballs, as Noah Syndergaard (7-6) did in his two innings, and the batters sit on the pitch and hit the ball a long way. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw it. The fastball DJ LeMahieu hit for home run was clocked at 96.5-mph coming in as was the first pitch fastball Nolan Arenado saw before putting the Rockies up 2-0 with his 28th home run of the season.

Throw too many secondary pitches and you run the risk of falling behind in the count and ultimately leading to a walk. In the third Syndergaard started Charlie Blackmon out with three straight changeups, fell behind 2-1, and then eventually walked him on a 3-2 changeup. Right before that, Ron Darling mentioned that Syndergaard had lost confidence in his fastball in the Tampa game and stopped throwing it. This guy is like Nostradamus. Then he had to say something about Syndergaard having trouble holding guys on and Blackmon stole second base on the first pitch.

Shhhhh. The Rockies can hear you.

It’s one of those things you hear broadcasters discuss quite frequently. There’s the subtle dance between pitchers and batters of adjustments and changing patterns. Looking for a pitch out over the plate? Okay, We’ll bust you inside. Jumping on pitches inside, bringing the hands through quicker? That’s fine. We’ll just throw off speed away and you’ll spin in place waving at a slider diving for the outside chalk. Batters make adjustments. Pitchers make adjustments. Fans squirm in place through it all.

Even dumb old me picked up patterns as I noticed that Syndergaard started the leadoff batter in the fourth, fifth, and sixth with a curveball. Oh, I’m so smart. Then he waited until the second pitch in the seventh. See. I would have been sitting on a curve when that 95-mph sinker blew past me. Okay, let’s not pretend that I wouldn’t have been running for a change of pants after that first fastball came in.

After the third, Syndergaard retired 11 of 12. The one baserunner he allowed as a LeMahieu walk in the sixth. Interestingly enough, that’s a pretty gutsy call throwing LeMahieu a 3-2 curveball with Carlos Gonzalez up next. Darling was against it, and with Gonzalez as hot as he is it was questionable. At that point, the Mets are up 7-3, and I’m a little surprised LeMahieu didn’t chase. What rookie would throw that pitch there? He probably could have gotten him to chase a fastball up. In the situation, though, I thought it was a nice pitch because now you’ll have idiots like me, only not so idiot-er, crunching numbers and creating pitcher profiles that might plant a seed of doubt in hitters minds. A 3-2 curve? If he ever figures out the changeup, all our plans for hitting domination will be ruined!

The one problem with the pitch in general was that it started out low and there was no reason for LeMahieu to chase. It’s okay. Gonzalez hit into a double play while Daniel Murphy fell down in his continued adventures manning first in Lucas Duda’s absence.

On a similar note, Syndergaard started Nick Hundley off with back-to-back curveballs in Hundley’s first two at-bats. I’m sure that was part of the plan to attack Hundley, but do the pitchers, catchers, and coaches all huddle up and discuss certain batters where they’ll work their secondary pitches in? I see that quite frequently with the batters in the bottom third of the lineup. I’d imagine it’s probably where pitchers get most of their hits with the guy on the mound either relaxing with a grooved fastball or trying to get a feel for their breaking pitches. Is it keep the feel for the pitch?

Watch a game and notice how the eighth hitter sees more breaking balls. I need to look at this, break down pitch type by batting order. This sort of fascinates me.

Another thing, and this is completely unrelated, but why do they count it as four pitches when there’s an intentional walk but they don’t count the warm up pitches before the inning starts. Those eight pitches can’t be anymore stressful than soft tossing to the catcher when intentionally walking someone.

That makes no sense to me.

I’ve gone way afield here, and I apologize for that.

Syndergaard still didn’t pitch much inside, and I’d love to see him bust batters in. He’s impossible to handle when he does so. On the day, Syndergaard allowed three earned runs in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    12 12.8
##   Curveball    28 29.8
##    Fourseam    32 34.0
##      Sinker    22 23.4

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1 2 3 4 5 6 7
## Changeup  1 0 7 1 2 1 0
## Curveball 2 5 3 5 7 5 1
## Fourseam  8 9 6 3 5 1 0
## Sinker    6 1 1 4 3 3 4

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Sinker
## Ball                             8         9       12      7
## Called Strike                    2         8        0      6
## Foul                             2         1        7      2
## In play, no out                  0         0        2      0
## In play, out(s)                  0         4        3      6
## In play, run(s)                  0         0        2      1
## Missed Bunt                      0         1        0      0
## Swinging Strike                  0         3        6      0
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         2        0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                  Changeup Curveball Fourseam Sinker
## Flyout                  0         0        3      1
## Grounded Into DP        0         1        0      1
## Groundout               0         0        1      3
## Home Run                0         0        1      1
## Pop Out                 0         3        0      1
## Single                  0         0        2      0
## Strikeout               0         3        2      0
## Walk                    1         1        0      0

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   45.74         54.26     22.12     56.84

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          10     0.200      0.00
##   Curveball      10          18     0.389     0.300
##    Fourseam      17          15     0.200     0.882
##      Sinker      14           8      0.00     0.571

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Curveball Fourseam
## Swinging Strike                   1        2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)         2        0

Strikeouts by Batter

##       Batter Name Strikeout(s)
##   Carlos  Gonzalez            1
##  Charlie  Blackmon            1
##      Eddie  Butler            1
##       Kyle  Parker            1
##     Nolan  Arenado            1

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 87.2 88.0 89.2   -9.079     3.588       -9.073         1.887
##   Curveball 74.9 79.1 82.7    8.612    -2.769        9.062        -4.639
##    Fourseam 95.5 97.0 98.2   -3.740     10.01       -3.432         8.548
##      Sinker 94.9 96.9 98.3   -7.246     8.445       -7.115         6.895

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:

2015-08-14_Noah Syndergaard_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-14_Noah Syndergaard_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-14_Noah Syndergaard_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-14_Noah Syndergaard_Batters

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