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Aug 31

Stephen Strasburg: About Yesterday Afternoon (August 30)

It’s a lot easier when the team scores runs. When the offense is clicking and guys not named Bryce Harper contribute big hits, those three-run Justin Bour home runs turn into the opening for a poorly written blog post rather than an example of why Stephen Strasburg didn’t bring his good stuff to Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon.

The truth is Strasburg didn’t bring his best stuff to the park yesterday, and Miami scored four runs, both off home runs. I don’t think it was four innings and pull him out of the game bad, but with Doug Fister (5-7) in the bullpen the Nationals have that luxury. The real reason they lifted Strasburg was because of upper back tightness, something that had bothered him earlier in the year. Seeing as Strasburg has been the Nationals best starter of late, this could be a problem.

Of those seven hits the Marlins worked off Strasburg, two were bunts. The first was a gorgeous bunt down the third base line by Dee Gordon to lead off the game, and Adeiny Hechavarria led off the second with a bunt between Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman. I think my favorite part of that play was after Hechavarria is standing on first and Strasburg looks over to the bench as if in complete disbelief. I could almost hear him say dejectedly, “Why are they doing this to me.” Maybe it was a look to say my back is really hurting. You can make up your own description. I go with the first.

Justin Bour scares me. Not in the sense that I’d be afraid to walk on the same side of the sidewalk scared, but he’s a scary individual. He hits the ball a long way. In every game, be it against the Mets or the Nationals, I always flinch when he swings. Flinching is a natural reaction when someone believes bad things will happen because of an action. I always believe bad things will happen to a baseball when Bour swings. Is this reasonable? Bour has 14 home runs in 292 official at-bats this season. That’s one homer for every 20.8 ABs. His ISO is .192, which would rank him 49th in the major leagues if he qualified for the batting title. That’s behind such noted sluggers as Trevor Plouffe and Chris Coghlan. Plouffe & Coghlan are fine hitters, but that sounds like the name of a law firm that specializes in litigating bakery mishaps, not the types of names that inspire dread and fear.

Not like the Bour flinch.

I’m beginning to enjoy his home run pose, though.

There’s an absolute certainty when he hits that ball. He calmly looks down and tosses his bat aside. I love that he doesn’t wear batting gloves. It’s like I’m watching a video from a different time. He might as well have just popped out as hit another long home run for all the emotion he shows.

As for Strasburg, there’s no word regarding his upper back tightness, and I doubt there will be anything definitive for a few days. From what I’m gathering it’s one of those things that he might have to pitch through. On Sunday, Strasburg pitched four innings and allowed four earned runs on seven hits while striking out three. Both home runs allowed by Strasburg (Derek Dietrich hit a solo shot in the fourth) were on pitches elevated. Bour’s came on a fastball up and out over the plate while Dietrich turned on one middle-in. Ichiro Suzuki also had another hit, slowly closing in on 3,000 MLB hits.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup     4 6.67
##   Curveball    15 25.0
##    Fourseam    40 66.7
##    Two-seam     1 1.67

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1 2 3  4
## Changeup   1 0 1  2
## Curveball  5 2 5  3
## Fourseam  11 7 9 13
## Two-seam   0 0 0  1

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam
## Ball                   1         8        7        0
## Ball In Dirt           0         1        0        0
## Called Strike          1         0        7        1
## Foul                   1         1        7        0
## In play, no out        0         2        3        0
## In play, out(s)        0         2        7        0
## In play, run(s)        0         0        2        0
## Swinging Strike        1         1        7        0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Curveball Fourseam
## Double           0         0        1
## Flyout           0         0        1
## Forceout         0         0        1
## Groundout        0         0        2
## Home Run         0         0        2
## Lineout          0         1        0
## Pop Out          0         1        2
## Sac Bunt         0         0        1
## Single           0         2        2
## Strikeout        1         0        2

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   48.33         51.67     25.16     39.31

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       1           3     0.667      0.00
##   Curveball       3          12     0.333     0.667
##    Fourseam      24          16     0.438     0.708
##    Two-seam       1           0       NaN      0.00

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Changeup Fourseam
## Swinging Strike        1        2

Standard Batting Lines Against Stephen Strasburg

##              Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##  Adeiny  Hechavarria  2  2 2  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 1.000 1.000 1.000       3
##           Brad  Hand  2  1 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  1 1.000 1.000 1.000       5
##      Derek  Dietrich  2  2 1  0  0  1 1  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 2.000       7
##      Devaris Gordon  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       8
##       Ichiro  Suzuki  2  2 1  1  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 1.000       8
##         Jeff  Mathis  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##         Justin  Bour  2  2 1  0  0  1 1  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 2.000       9
##       Marcell  Ozuna  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       7
##        Martin  Prado  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       8
## 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 85.8 86.8 87.9   -8.547     3.678       -8.295         2.343
##   Curveball 78.8 81.2 84.0    8.332    -5.428        9.126        -6.985
##    Fourseam 91.6 93.9 95.9   -4.602     8.956       -3.925         7.958
##    Two-seam 92.3 92.3 92.3   -6.302     6.305       -5.789         5.218

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_Stephen Strasburg_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-08-31_Stephen Strasburg_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-08-31_Stephen Strasburg_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-08-31_Stephen Strasburg_Batters

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