Aug 31

Noah Syndergaard: About Yesterday Afternoon (August 30)

There was a span of about 30 minutes yesterday where I was convinced baseball games were fixed. Joe West wasn’t behind the plate. That was Tim Donaghy. It happened much quicker than that. My sudden insight didn’t exactly happen in the proverbial “blink of an eye.” That might be overselling it. I’ll say it happened in the sip of water, which I wanted to quickly switch out to wine.

The Mets were on their way to gaining ground in the East. They were up 4-2 heading into the seventh. The Marlins were up 4-2 on the Nationals in the fifth. Within minutes both scores were knotted 4-4 with the tying score in both games happening at nearly the same time. You can’t make this stuff up. This isn’t me making drama out of loosely related events. This stuff was predetermined in the most Calvinistic way possible. Not for nothing, but it was Sunday. Just saying. The Nationals would proceed to add another run in a game they would eventually win 7-4. The Mets nearly got swept, again, and that they went onto win 5-4 in no way makes me doubt that something funny was going on yesterday.

If you look at that pitching line from Noah Syndergaard doesn’t it seem completely made up? He’d allowed two hits through five. While Syndergaard hadn’t been striking out many batters, he’d benefited from a rather generous Joe West strike zone and an aggressive Boston lineup to work his way through those five innings with the Red Sox working the Mets infielders like boxers constantly working the jab. Eventually one would slip through, right, and then they’d throw the big haymaker.

In the sixth, Boston continued with their jabs, looking for a Mets weakness. Mookie Betts grounds out to Ruben Tejada. It was close. Torey Lovullo waited to see if Betts was safe, but Tejada’s throw beat him to the bag by a half second. Pablo Sandoval then drove one into the ground into Juan Uribe’s mitt. Two outs. Xander Bogaerts, who’d already earned his way on with an infield single in the first, hit one past Daniel Murphy at first—another grounder, another jab—and the Red Sox had their chance. The haymaker came on David Ortiz’s 494th career home run, passing one of my all-time favorites Fred McGriff. Syndergaard came middle-low with the heat, and Ortiz sent it out even faster.

In the first inning, Syndergaard started Ortiz out with a fastball in nearly the same location. Watch the game again. Just that at-bat if you’re pressed for time. Ortiz gives the location a look as if to remember if Syndergaard throws in that location again. You don’t enter a game with 493 home runs by being really lucky and guessing. I’m convinced he was waiting on that pitch again.

I loved Syndergaard’s approach yesterday. He worked mostly with his fastball early on, mixing in more changeups and easing off on the curveballs. Also, he finished batters off inside, working from outside in as a fairly typical pattern. In the fifth, one at-bat stood out to me as a good example of his using the inside edge to finish batters. Pitching to Brock Holt, Syndergaard gave him a steady diet of changeups that dove middle of the plate down, and then Syndergaard threw 97-mph heat on the inside black. Holt singled on the pitch, but he didn’t make particularly good contact on his soft fly ball to right field.

So, no, I find it difficult to believe that Syndergaard allowed four runs yesterday. He pitched so well that it was like watching two games. See? There was some wacky mojo going on yesterday, a disruption in the Force.

On the day, Syndergaard pitched six innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits (didn’t happen I tell you) and one walk with three strikeouts.

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

Pitches by Type:

##        Pitch Type Count    %
##          Changeup    25 22.5
##         Curveball    15 13.5
##          Fourseam    39 35.1
##  Intentional Walk     4 3.60
##            Sinker    28 25.2

Pitch Type by Inning

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

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Intentional Walk Sinker
## Ball                   9         6       10                0      4
## Ball In Dirt           1         1        0                0      0
## Called Strike          0         2        8                0     12
## Foul                   4         2        9                0      5
## In play, no out        1         0        1                0      2
## In play, out(s)        3         3        6                0      5
## In play, run(s)        0         0        2                0      0
## Intent Ball            0         0        0                4      0
## Swinging Strike        7         1        3                0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##             Changeup Curveball Fourseam Intentional Walk Sinker
## Double             0         0        1                0      0
## Flyout             0         0        2                0      1
## Groundout          3         1        4                0      4
## Home Run           0         0        1                0      0
## Intent Walk        0         0        0                1      0
## Pop Out            0         2        0                0      0
## Single             1         0        1                0      2
## Strikeout          0         0        2                0      1

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   45.95         54.05     48.10     56.59

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       3          22     0.545      1.00
##         Curveball       5          10     0.300     0.600
##          Fourseam      25          14     0.429     0.520
##  Intentional Walk       0           4      0.00       NaN
##            Sinker      18          10     0.500     0.389

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Fourseam Sinker
## Called Strike          0      1
## Swinging Strike        2      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Noah Syndergaard

##            Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##  Alejandro  De  Aza  3  2 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000      12
##     Blake  Swihart  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      10
##        Brock  Holt  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      14
##       David  Ortiz  3  3 1  0  0  1 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333      14
##    Jackie  Bradley  1  1 1  1  0  0 0  0   0  0 1.000 1.000 2.000       3
##      Mookie  Betts  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      17
##    Pablo  Sandoval  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9
##        Wade  Miley  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
##   Xander  Bogaerts  3  3 2  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667      10
##              <NA>  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      12
## Warning in rm(x): object 'x' not found

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##        Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor
##          Changeup 85.8 87.8 89.6   -7.563     3.259       -7.482
##         Curveball 79.9 81.9 83.8    6.419   -0.5340        6.931
##          Fourseam 95.1 97.0 99.0   -3.758     9.660       -3.568
##  Intentional Walk 76.4 78.8 79.9   -3.970     8.933       -4.813
##            Sinker 95.2 97.3 99.0   -7.146     7.718       -6.894
##  CRT Mean Vert
##          1.690
##         -2.168
##          8.416
##          8.025
##          6.345

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:

2015-08-31_Noah Syndergaard_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-31_Noah Syndergaard_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-31_Noah Syndergaard_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-31_Noah Syndergaard_Batters

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