Steven Matz: About Last Night (September 11)

If there’s a legitimate argument for Yoenis Cespedes as NL MVP (I’m working on a post with my own thoughts), those in favor can basically point to each night’s box score and say, “See?  This guy is raking!”  Cespedes did it again last night, going 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, and three RBI.  I don’t think Cespedes has any shot whatsoever at winning the MVP over Bryce Harper. It’s a great story, much like the Mets ascending to the top of the NL East is a great story, and there will be more words written about it than are necessary. After Harper wins the award easily we’ll all look back and laugh, thinking we were so passionate with our arguments, but before that moment, let me marvel in the 38 games of awesome I’ve been witness to over the past month and a half. If you haven’t noticed, that’s now 15 home runs Cespedes has hit with the Mets. He also has 10 doubles, three triples, and a 1.040 OPS. If this were 1988, Cespedes probably would have a legitimate case for MVP. In 2015, with everyone so smart and quick to remind everyone else how dumb they are, Cespedes for MVP chatter makes for a good month of outraged bloggers making semi-coherent arguments.


In other news, Steven Matz (3-0) pitched last night. Remember him? He’s that phenom that came on the scene, mowing down batters and hitting like he was a younger Madison Bumgarner. Not that much younger. It’s hard to believe but Bumgarner is only two years older than Matz. Back to my original point, Matz pitched last night, and though he may have pitched only five innings, it felt like eight. Maybe eighty. Let’s just say that the Mets may need to give Matz an extra day off to help him forget pitching from the stretch. You know, muscle memory and all that. Every inning there was someone on base, and usually there were a few.

Singles, walks, an error, oh my!

When Daniel Castro hit his first major league home run in the fifth, I had mixed emotions. The Braves had cut the lead to 2-1, which wasn’t the best, but if that was going to be the end of it, then at least I wouldn’t have to see Braves on the bases. I needed a change of scenery as it were. Just one inning that went one-two-three would have been something to hold onto. I’d even take one with a home run. It was Castro’s first big league homer. Enjoy it. Let’s just get the rest of those Braves hitters out. No such luck.  Freddie Freeman decided to single up the middle on the very next pitch.


It was that kind of game.

On the bright side, Matz located his fastball much better in this game than in his previous start against the Marlins. He looked calmer, and except for a rather angry yelling into his mitt moment after the Castro homer, he didn’t look flustered on the night. Unfortunately for Matz, he didn’t get the calls on the inside with his fastball, which I thought that he located extremely well for the most part. In the second inning, he was close on inside 0-2 fastballs to both Andrelton Simmons and Christian Bethancourt. According to my zone calculations, both pitches were balls, but they were certainly close enough that they could have been called strikes. With a slightly more generous, consistent strike zone, I might have seen that elusive one-two-three inning that Matz couldn’t find on Friday night.

Matz’s changeup wasn’t good at all. It was up and flat and the Braves batters hit the pitch hard.  During the SNY broadcast, Keith Hernandez made an interesting observation about Matz’s delivery. Hernandez noted that Matz slowed down his delivery when he threw the curveball and changeup. Earlier in the game, particularly in the first, I thought I’d noticed Matz falling off more to the third base side when throwing his curveball. I might have been seeing things, however, as I didn’t see any repeats as the game went along.

The curveball was a mixed bag. The Braves laid off it when it wasn’t in the zone, refusing to chase, and that was more because the pitch wasn’t close to the zone to force the Braves to make a decision. It reminded me a little of Gio Gonzalez’s start in St. Louis a few weeks back. It was sweeping and had nice break but it didn’t remain in the strike zone long enough or end close enough to the zone to make it worth a swing.

It still blows me away that the Mets rotation is one continual run of guys throwing mid-90s. Except for Bartolo Colon, who has become must see every start, and Jon Niese, the team runs out starter after starter that show up on my Daily Heat page. Unreal.

Matz isn’t a finished product by any stretch, and last night was one of those nights where you can see the promise of what he will one day be, but he’s not there yet.

On the night, Matz threw five innings and allowed one earned run on six hits and two walks while striking out two.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup     8 8.99
##   Curveball    21 23.6
##      Sinker    60 67.4

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1  2 3  4  5
## Changeup   1  1 0  5  1
## Curveball  5  2 4  5  5
## Sinker    14 13 8 14 11

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Ball                   1        10     20
## Called Strike          2         3     11
## Foul                   2         4     12
## Foul Tip               0         1      0
## In play, no out        2         0      4
## In play, out(s)        1         3      8
## In play, run(s)        0         0      1
## Swinging Strike        0         0      4

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                  Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Field Error             0         0      1
## Forceout                0         0      2
## Grounded Into DP        0         0      1
## Groundout               0         2      4
## Home Run                0         0      1
## Lineout                 0         1      0
## Pop Out                 1         0      1
## Single                  2         0      3
## Strikeout               0         0      2
## Walk                    0         0      2

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   51.69         48.31     24.84     54.17

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           4     0.500     0.750
##   Curveball       8          13     0.231     0.500
##      Sinker      34          26     0.269     0.618

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Sinker
## Swinging Strike      2

Standard Batting Lines Against Steven Matz

##                 Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG
##          Adonis  Garcia  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333
##      Andrelton  Simmons  2  2 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 0.500
##  Christian  Bethancourt  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000
##          Daniel  Castro  3  3 2  0  0  1 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.667
##      Frederick Freeman  3  2 1  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.500 0.667 0.500
##         Matthew Wisler  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000
##          Michael  Bourn  2  1 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.500 0.000
##          Nick  Markakis  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333
##           Nick  Swisher  3  3 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000
##  Pitches
##        7
##       10
##        7
##       14
##       11
##        7
##       10
##       15
##        8

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 82.0 83.5 85.3    9.374     3.920        9.193         2.702
##   Curveball 75.2 77.1 79.2   -5.657    -6.211       -6.266        -7.690
##      Sinker 92.7 94.3 96.3    8.527     6.016        8.027         4.956

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:

2015-09-12_Steven Matz_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-09-12_Steven Matz_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-09-12_Steven Matz_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-09-12_Steven Matz_Batters


    • Turd on September 12, 2015 at 7:40 pm
    • Reply

    Harper for MVP? Maybe but I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. The Nats are nothing but a disappointment so far. Plus Harper doesn’t button his uni all the way up, that has to be worth at least a few non first place votes, right?

    1. You make a valid point. The way the Nats have collapsed down the stretch will probably give many voters pause. I know some like to argue for Joey Votto or Paul Goldschmidt, but I don’t think either of those players has a chance if we go with the team didn’t live up to expectations. Votto is an interesting case. It’s not his fault his team uses a rotation entirely of rookies. Still. No chance Votto wins. The Cards have now dropped three in a row, and if the Pirates win tonight they’ll be 2.5 games back. The Cubs have an outside shot at the Central crown. Why not another MVP for McCutchen or Rizzo? You could make an argument there. Personally I think Harper is the NL MVP this season. He’s been pretty phenomenal. He’s played a solid right field, and his arm has made runners fear taking the extra base. I can’t argue with the shirt button thing. I’ve tried not to comment on his need to go all Tom Selleck chest exposure. It’s creepy. If he was Bruce Campbell and holding a mojito I’d be on board with it. Baseball players should button up their shirt. It falls into that realm of old, well fed managers shouldn’t wear tight baseball pants and football coaches look funny in suits.

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