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Sep 25

Steven Matz: About Last Night (September 24)

It seems like only yesterday when Steven Matz debuted against the Cincinnati Reds and Brandon Phillips homered to lead off the game.  Of course, if my memory serves me right, Matz’s first pitch went all Nuke LaLoosh and nearly tossed the ball over the backstop, was down 3-0 to Phillips, and then the home run. Now, looking over the game log, my memory hasn’t failed me in this instance. Thursday night’s game started much better for Matz with a strikeout of Jason Bourgeois. For an added bonus, he struck Bourgeois out with a curveball, a pitch he’s been struggling with over the last two starts. He also struck out Todd Frazier (or is he the “always dangerous” Todd Frazier? Can that be his new name?) on a rather wicked curve in the dirt. What was encouraging about the Frazier strikeout was that Matz had allowed three straight singles, was down 1-0, and had runners on first and second with one out. Things could have gotten really bad, really quickly.

This seemed like one of those games where the Mets should have won but were going to squander away, didn’t it? It seemed like that because the last week and half was filled with games like that. What is it they say, familiarity breeds contempt? Earlier in the day, the Nationals finished out a listless home series with the Orioles by being swept. The Mets have done everything in their power to keep the Nationals interested in the East lead over the past week, and this game seemed like more of the same. Matz worked through nearly every inning with runners on base. Lots of singles. Lots of pitches. Except for the lack of walks and a complete meltdown inning, this game was Matz’s Gio Gonzalez game. When there was trouble, Matz worked through it with a strikeout.

I wouldn’t call this a bad start by Matz. That’s an odd thing to say considering he allowed 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. If there’s a complaint to make, it’s that Matz hung his curveball a few too many times. He located his fastball particularly well, working both sides of the plate and mixing eye levels. On a strikeout of Bourgeois in the second, Matz started him out low in the zone and then struck him out with fastballs up and out. It was an impressive pitch sequence to the Reds leadoff hitter. One, it wasn’t as though Matz was tossing up anything to the plate and hoping that it would find it’s way to the strike zone. From my perspective, it appeared that Matz had a plan to attack Bourgeois in that at-bat.

When Matz struck out Phillips in the third, he used both his curveball and fastball, attacking both sides of the plate. Impressive.

Maybe Matz allowed three runs on a barrage of Reds singles (nine of the 10 hits were singles), but it wasn’t as though he was offering up middle of the plate beach balls for the taking. Interestingly enough, a quote from Matz in Adam Rubin’s article on ESPN agrees:

This is definitely the best I’ve felt with commanding the zone and everything,” Matz said. “I felt really good. Today was the best fastball command I’ve had. And that’s really what I work off of. Everything else is getting there. My curveball is just a tick off, I think — still a little up in the zone. But everything else, I feel like, is pretty on.

In a way, this start reminded me of Jacob deGrom. Matz relied upon his fastball, tried to get the Reds to chase out of the zone, and when he absolutely needed to he worked his 95-mph heat down at the knees.

Matz didn’t get the win, but the Mets did. That’s a plus. With the team’s magic number down to three, there’s a chance the team wins the East for the first time since 2006 as early as Saturday night. Thanks, guys!

On the night, Matz tossed 5 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on 10 hits while striking out eight.

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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    10 10.8
##   Curveball    19 20.4
##      Sinker    64 68.8

Pitch Type by Inning

##            1  2  3  4 5 6
## Changeup   2  0  3  1 2 2
## Curveball  5  6  4  2 1 1
## Sinker    18 13 10 10 8 5

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Ball                             4         3     18
## Called Strike                    1         4     13
## Foul                             2         3     14
## Foul Tip                         0         0      2
## In play, no out                  1         2      4
## In play, out(s)                  2         2      5
## In play, run(s)                  0         2      1
## Swinging Strike                  0         2      7
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         1      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Double           0         0      1
## Flyout           1         0      1
## Groundout        0         1      1
## Lineout          0         1      3
## Pop Out          1         0      0
## Single           1         4      4
## Strikeout        0         2      6

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   58.06         41.94     28.62     56.83

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       5           5     0.200     0.800
##   Curveball      12           7     0.571     0.500
##      Sinker      37          27     0.259     0.622

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Curveball Sinker
## Called Strike                     0      3
## Foul Tip                          0      1
## Swinging Strike                   1      2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)         1      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Steven Matz

##            Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##       Adam  Duvall  1  1 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 1.000 1.000 1.000       1
##  Brandon  Phillips  3  3 2  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667       9
##       Brayan  Pena  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      13
##    Eugenio  Suarez  3  3 2  1  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.000       9
##  Ivan  De  JesusJr.  3  3 2  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667      15
##   Jason  Bourgeois  3  3 0  0  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      15
##         Jay  Bruce  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      11
##        Joey  Votto  3  3 2  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 0.667       9
##        Josh  Smith  1  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3
##     Ramon  Cabrera  1  1 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 1.000 1.000 1.000       1
##      Todd  Frazier  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       7

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 80.9 83.9 87.2    7.682     2.442        7.422         1.270
##   Curveball 75.8  78. 80.0   -4.539    -6.262       -5.105        -7.581
##      Sinker 88.6 93.9 95.2    10.34     4.905        9.968         3.802

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:

2015-09-25_Steven Matz_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-09-25_Steven Matz_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-09-25_Steven Matz_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-09-25_Steven Matz_Batters

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