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Aug 20

Stephen Strasburg: About Last Night (August 19)

It was clear early on that Stephen Strasburg (7-6) had his good stuff. Whether it was another sign of his returning confidence and command after returning from the disabled list or that he really enjoys pitching against Colorado, Strasburg handled the Rockies batters in seven strong innings to notch his 50th career win.

Of the seven innings Strasburg pitched, he saw more than the minimum in only three of those, and the only run he allowed came from a wild pitch where he still had a chance to nab Ben Paulsen at the plate. If he could have pulled off one of those sweeping jump tags like Jonathan Schoop pulled off last night against Lucas Duda, Strasburg leaves Colorado with a shutout. That’s pretty impressive considering that early in the season Nationals fans were ready to ship him out of D.C. for a box of Cracker Jacks and whatever warm body they could find to take Dan Uggla’s spot on the bench. Right now they’d probably be willing to make the same trade, only this time they’d ask for a few bullpen arms that haven’t been worn down by this current road trip. Last night’s start helped rest those arms.

Sweet victory!

It really is a treat to watch Strasburg pitch when he’s on, and while he didn’t have his blazing fastball last night he located his pitches well and his breaking ball was sharp. Of his five strikeouts, three were on breaking balls. His strikeout of Kyle Parker was a nice fastball on the inner black.

Is this the new and improved Strasburg? The return of the former dominant Strasburg? Yes, maybe. In the three starts he’s made since returning from the DL, Strasburg has allowed three earned runs in 20 innings. He’s allowed 12 hits, walked two, and struck out 25. Two of those starts came against the Rockies, a team that ranks 25th in the major leagues in wRC+, but the other came against the Giants who rank third. He’s pitched seven innings in two of those as well (both against Colorado), something he’d done only twice before this season, and the time spent not accumulating innings will likely help here in the latter stages of the season. Other pitchers will be wearing down and Strasburg will still be coming into his own.

That might be useful when October comes around.

If you’re going to win your 50th career game, allowing a lowly two hits in seven innings is a nice way to go about it. On the night, Strasburg finished with one unearned run allowed with no walks and five strikeouts. He’s lowered his ERA to 4.22, but more importantly, he actually looks more like a guy who stands 6’4 as opposed to a guy slumping from the weight of failed expectations.

We might be seeing Strasburg working his way back into the conversation as the Nationals staff ace.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    17 18.3
##   Curveball    14 15.1
##    Fourseam    51 54.8
##    Two-seam     8 8.60
##      Slider     3 3.23

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1  2 3 4 5 6 7
## Changeup  7  1 1 5 0 1 2
## Curveball 0  6 1 2 0 2 3
## Fourseam  9 14 8 8 4 3 5
## Two-seam  2  0 1 2 3 0 0
## Slider    1  1 0 0 1 0 0

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Ball                             5         2       15        1      1
## Ball In Dirt                     0         1        0        0      0
## Called Strike                    0         5        6        2      0
## Foul                             4         1       16        4      1
## Foul Tip                         0         0        2        0      0
## In play, no out                  0         2        1        0      0
## In play, out(s)                  5         2        7        1      0
## Swinging Strike                  3         1        4        0      0
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         0        0        0      1

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##             Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Field Error        0         1        0        0      0
## Flyout             1         0        2        0      0
## Groundout          1         1        5        1      0
## Lineout            2         0        0        0      0
## Pop Out            1         1        0        0      0
## Single             0         1        1        0      0
## Strikeout          2         1        1        0      1

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   56.99         43.01     37.20     64.92

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          14     0.643      1.00
##   Curveball      11           3      0.00     0.545
##    Fourseam      32          19     0.263     0.719
##    Two-seam       7           1      0.00     0.714
##      Slider       0           3     0.667       NaN

Strikeouts by Description

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

Standard Batting Lines Against Stephen Strasburg

##            Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##       Ben  Paulsen  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
##    Brandon  Barnes  1  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3
##   Carlos  Gonzalez  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
##  Charlie  Blackmon  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      14
##       DJ  LeMahieu  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      11
##  Jorge  De  La  Rosa  1  1 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       4
##        Jose  Reyes  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       6
##       Kyle  Parker  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       6
##      Nick  Hundley  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      10
##     Nolan  Arenado  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      19
## Warning in rm(x): object 'x' not found

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 86.0 88.5 90.4   -7.839     3.981       -7.335         2.445
##   Curveball 79.4 82.0 83.4    3.479    -3.677        4.074        -4.979
##    Fourseam 93.0 95.8 96.9   -5.784     8.778       -5.146         7.588
##    Two-seam 91.8 95.0 96.2   -7.632     6.377       -7.238         5.262
##      Slider 84.4 84.5 84.6    2.938   -0.4953        3.910        -2.226

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:

2015-08-20_Stephen Strasburg_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-20_Stephen Strasburg_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-20_Stephen Strasburg_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-20_Stephen Strasburg_Batters

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