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Aug 09

Stephen Strasburg: About Last Night (8/8)

I could watch Stephen Strasburg’s performance last night over and over. He was that good. In fact, I’ve already watched it twice, and I might go ahead and watch it a third time just so I can watch him strike out Ben Paulsen with that ridiculous changeup again. Three pitches Paulsen. It was that easy for Strasburg last night.

In his first start since he strained his oblique on July 4th, Strasburg came out and dominated from about the fifth pitch on. Charlie Blackmon doubled on the fourth, so we’ll start with Jose Reyes’ bunt. Strasburg struck out 12 Rockies last night, but it could have been more. Oh, it could have been so many more. All night long he was working with two strikes on batters. It seemed that way at least. Of the 24 batters he faced last night, Strasburg had two strikes on 17 of them. That’s about 3/4 of the Rockies he faced, and even that number is an understatement of how dominant he was.

Strasburg mixed a fastball that hit 97 with a curveball that dropped like it was doctored with lead weights. He struck Nolan Arenado with a curveball in the first that might have forced Arenado out with an oblique strain after his helpless swing. Let’s just say that if this is the pitcher the Nationals get back for the last two months of the season, then it’s going to be an interesting race in the East.

What surprised me from watching him pitch last night was the variety of ways he got Rockies out. He blew Carlos Gonzalez away with a fastball up, Nick Hundley with a curveball that looked to bury itself into the Earth’s core, and Paulsen with a changeup that moved down and away like the ghost of Troy Tulowitzki was pulling on it with an invisible string from the dugout. No. The Rockies weren’t touching him last night.

It’s night like last night that make us remember why Strasburg is such a tease. He’ll dominate as he’s fully committed to his talent. It’s a mindset with him. If he feels dominant, his presence looms over the game like a true ace. Just go out and be you, Strasburg. 12 strikeouts should be the norm when you have stuff that good.

Anyway, on the night, Strasburg pitched seven innings, allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out 12. Arenado hit a home run, which he sort of does from time-to-time, but the other Rockies walked meekly back to the dugout.

A lot.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    13 14.3
##   Curveball    24 26.4
##    Fourseam    46 50.5
##    Two-seam     8 8.79

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1 2  3 4  5 6 7
## Changeup  1 0  0 3  0 4 5
## Curveball 2 3  1 5  4 4 5
## Fourseam  8 6 12 6 10 1 3
## Two-seam  1 1  0 2  1 1 2

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam
## Ball                             6         8       11        1
## Called Strike                    0         6       11        2
## Foul                             1         4        8        2
## Foul Bunt                        0         0        0        1
## Foul Tip                         0         0        2        0
## In play, no out                  1         0        1        0
## In play, out(s)                  2         1        6        0
## In play, run(s)                  0         0        0        1
## Swinging Strike                  2         1        7        1
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        1         4        0        0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam
## Double           1         0        1        0
## Flyout           2         0        1        0
## Groundout        0         1        0        0
## Home Run         0         0        0        1
## Lineout          0         0        3        0
## Pop Out          0         0        1        0
## Sac Bunt         0         0        1        0
## Strikeout        2         5        5        0

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam
## Called Strike                    0         0        1
## Foul Tip                         0         0        1
## Swinging Strike                  1         1        3
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        1         4        0

Strikeouts by Batter

##       Batter Name Strikeout(s)
##       Ben  Paulsen            3
##   Carlos  Gonzalez            1
##  Charlie  Blackmon            1
##       DJ  LeMahieu          3
##      Eddie  Butler          1
##        Jose  Reyes            1
##      Nick  Hundley            1
##     Nolan  Arenado            1

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 86.3 89.4 90.2   -9.278     2.879       -8.897         1.330
##   Curveball 80.3 82.2 84.5    7.955    -5.617        8.723        -7.227
##    Fourseam 94.7 95.9 97.7   -5.793     9.192       -5.134         7.973
##    Two-seam 93.2 95.7 97.3   -7.803     7.145       -7.366         5.885

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 corner 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 up and down.

Note 2: The corrected horizontal and vertical are based upon a paper by Alan M. Nathan from the University of Illinois and 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:

2015-08-09_Stephen Strasburg_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-09_Stephen Strasburg_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-09_Stephen Strasburg_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-09_Stephen Strasburg_Batters

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