Sep 20

Noah Syndergaard: About Last Night (September 19)

I wonder how things would have gone for Noah Syndergaard in the first inning if he’d replaced that 0-2 fastball to Carlos Beltran at the knees with the slider he threw Greg Bird in the fourth or the curve he threw Didi Gregorius in the fifth. Luckily for us, Syndergaard tried to do that very thing in the sixth when he started Beltran 0-2, hung a curve that Beltran pulled foul, and then Beltran ultimately singled on a fastball. In the first, Beltran hit a 99-mph fastball considerably farther. The moral of the story? Though Beltran is 38-years old and by Baseball Reference’s standards worth just over a half a win above replacement, he can still hit a fastball early in the day before his body gets sleepy. The one time you want Beltran to actually stand there and watch he swings. Go figure.

Five runs?

That number is real. Syndergaard allowed five runs, and I’m not so much confused by the number, but doesn’t it seem like that number should be two? As in two mistakes and two fastballs hit a long, long way by a couple of veteran players whose sole purpose in this world is to screw over the Mets? His fastball was electric. His curveball, especially late, had some nasty bite. The curve he threw to Dustin Ackley to end the sixth was filthy. It started at the knees, and then it spent the next few moments of its brief existence driving towards the ground there to burrow a warm comfortable home in the earth. Ackley waved at it as if he was playing Whack-A-Mole. Syndergaard’s curve had so much sharp, quick break to it that I thought it was the slider he mixed in from time to time yesterday. Syndergaard now throws a slider too? Dan Warthen is doing some good work with these rookies. If he can convince Syndergaard to not throw all fastballs (pssst, Jacob deGrom too) in the first inning then I will sleep better at night and not stress over first inning struggles.

I understand the reasoning. Establish the fastball early. Incorporate the secondary pitches as the game goes along. It especially makes sense with younger pitchers who are working through nerves. If they’re going to miss, they’re less likely to miss with the fastball, or at least at least when you throw mid to high 90s the damage is likely to be less, than if you hang a curve early in the game because you don’t have a feel for it. Sure. That makes sense. It also makes sense to vary things up a bit.

Of the first 11 pitches Syndergaard threw, 10 of them were fastballs. He threw one changeup to Brett Gardner that was blooped into right-center for a single. I’m not asking for a philosophy change here. Just mix in an offspeed pitch, drop a curve into the dirt, or bury that fastball up into Beltran’s hands.

Obviously at that moment Syndergaard was looking for either a strikeout or a double-play, but he’d have had a bit more luck with that if he tried to keep Beltran off balance. Maybe the real issue there was he went back to the same zone with his fastball. Perhaps a pitch up and in or up and away to get him to chase.

Though he gave up those two home runs, Syndergaard pitched extremely well. He retired 12 straight after the home run to Beltran, and continuing the trend from recent outings there were a lot of groundouts. Of the 18 outs Syndergaard recorded yesterday, eight came via the ground ball, two were fly balls, and there were eight strikeouts. He’s doing something right. One of those fly balls ended like this, though.

There’s also the matter of the renewed life in Syndergaard’s fastball. He’s back to throwing hard. Really freaking hard. He didn’t top 100 like he did in his previous start against Atlanta, but he hit 99 six times while sitting around 98. Look at my daily Heat Check. Syndergaard owned the list of hardest thrown pitches yesterday.

Yesterday was a setback, sort of, but I don’t think there’s too much to worry about. The first and sixth innings continue to give Syndergaard issues, but he’ll figure this stuff out. On the day, he threw six innings and allowed five earned runs on seven hits while striking out eight.

Oh, in non-baseball related news, if you’re ever in Frederick, Maryland please visit Dutch’s Daughter. You won’t regret your decision. Last night they served me the best crab cakes I’ve ever eaten. Don’t overthink this. Skip the pizza. Drive past the Checkers. Take an evening and enjoy some fine dining.

Order the crab cakes.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    10 11.4
##   Curveball    17 19.3
##    Fourseam    39 44.3
##      Sinker    16 18.2
##      Slider     6 6.82

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1 2 3 4 5 6
## Changeup   3 0 0 4 1 2
## Curveball  1 1 2 2 2 9
## Fourseam  11 6 3 6 6 7
## Sinker     6 1 2 1 0 6
## Slider     0 0 0 2 0 4

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Sinker Slider
## Ball                             4         6        9      3      2
## Ball In Dirt                     0         0        0      0      1
## Called Strike                    1         3        8      5      0
## Foul                             0         2        9      1      0
## In play, no out                  2         0        2      1      0
## In play, out(s)                  2         0        4      3      1
## In play, run(s)                  0         0        1      1      0
## Swinging Strike                  1         3        6      2      2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         3        0      0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Sinker Slider
## Double           1         0        0      0      0
## Groundout        2         0        3      3      0
## Home Run         0         0        1      1      0
## Lineout          0         0        1      0      1
## Single           1         0        1      1      0
## Strikeout        0         4        3      0      1
## Triple           0         0        1      0      0

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   50.00         50.00     42.00     46.00

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       4           6     0.167      1.00
##   Curveball       7          10     0.700     0.143
##    Fourseam      21          18     0.556     0.524
##      Sinker      12           4      0.00     0.583
##      Slider       0           6     0.500       NaN

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Swinging Strike                   1        3      1
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)         3        0      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Noah Syndergaard

##           Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##    Brett  Gardner  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       8
##     Brian  McCann  3  3 1  0  0  1 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.333      14
##   Carlos  Beltran  3  3 2  0  0  1 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.667      11
##    Chase  Headley  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      12
##   Didi  Gregorius  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##    Dustin  Ackley  3  3 1  0  1  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 1.000      11
##     Gregory  Bird  3  3 1  1  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.667      14
##  Jacoby  Ellsbury  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       8
##   Michael  Pineda  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 89.2 89.9 90.5   -6.984     4.189       -6.933         2.729
##   Curveball 82.1 84.2 88.0    5.654    -1.140        5.941        -2.660
##    Fourseam 96.5 98.2 99.6   -3.048     9.161       -2.869         8.014
##      Sinker 97.0 98.2 99.4   -6.537     7.261       -6.592         5.956
##      Slider 88.3 88.8 89.5    2.758   -0.4117        3.134        -2.137

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:

2015-09-20_Noah Syndergaard_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-09-20_Noah Syndergaard_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-09-20_Noah Syndergaard_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-09-20_Noah Syndergaard_Batters

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