Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Updated tweaked the ID and some charts - see end of post
Mr. Pesky Fish, Jeremy Hermida, did the Cubs in, again. But Jeff Samardzija made his debut for the Cubs
Jeff Samardzija's debut had mixed results, but he seems to have been received well. While he blew the save by giving up the game-tying run, Samardzija showed good stuff and a lot of "poise", according to various voices on the radio. Striking out two and allowing two hits, he gave the Cubs two innings on 31 pitches, 23 for strikes. That's better control than Ryan Dempster had, as the Cubs' starter allowed six walks in six innings, tossing 110 pitches. Dempster still lowered his ERA to 2.99 by allowing just a single runner to cross home plate.
Analyzing a new pitcher's stuff is always fun. So, Mr. Samardzija presented a nice cap to a long week. A W flag to fly would've been nice, too. But the offense is to blame there, and Jeremy Hermida and his home run of Bob Howry (also a problem).
Samardzija threw the ball very hard, hitting 99.9 at release, by my calculations. He did seem to lose some velocity as his outing went on. Below, you can see the dip. I've got him throwing three two-seam fastballs, once of which is the last pitch. (Update: see bottom of post)
Along with the fastball(s), you've got a slider and a splitter. Or "splitty", Jeff calls it on his "blog".
The splitter doesn't look too consistent (Updated see below for more). Nice slider, though. Release points are pretty consistent. Seems to have two spots.
We'll need more data to sort that out. Here are some more aggregations - spin movement and flight paths.
I'll probably check Samardzija's two innings out on MLB.TV. Should be interesting to see.
Update While watching the game, yes, I realize now that's a pitch-out. Also, the first two-seamer by my ID could've just been a four-seamer in the dirt. It didn't look different, other than be way down, from his other fastballs to that point.
Cantu's double was impressive, high heat, up and over. Ripped down the line. Brenly noted it, that Jeff Samardzija didn't see too many guys who could do that in the Minors.
The next "two-seam" looked like the other fastballs, but with less tail. Hard to be confident on that ID. The next pitch was a splitter, by the PFX data. It was not a good one, and, Brenly noted it could've been a straight change or a splitter. I'll go with splitter. Bad splitter.
Brenly and Kasper call the 2nd pitch to Uggla a straight change, but it looks, and PFX's, just like the other pitches I, and they, had called sliders to that point. The next one to Uggla was a better slider.
Another missed ID is on a "splitter" that was just a bad slider. It looked like he lost his grip on it, and then he reached for the resin bag.
The first pitch to his last batter looked like a different fastball, but flights straight over the aggregate of the other fastballs.
Here are some updated charts.
I'm looking at that split in the release points, but nothing firm yet. Some of it looks like pitch type, or it looks like an inning to inning difference, or it could be other things, too. Need. More. Data.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Alfonso Soriano and Scott Eyre have been activated from the DL and both will be available tonight, according to cubs.com. Kevin Hart and Micah Hoffpauir return to Iowa.
Getting Soriano back should be a psychological lift, but that could be a bursting bubble if the lead-off man struggles off the bat.
The Cubs now have three lefties in the bullpen, since I don't know how long. Anyone know the last time we had three active southpaws out there in the 'pen?
Tonight's match-up is a battle of lefties, with Ted Lilly facing off against Doug Davis. Ted threw more fastballs and sliders last time out, compared to recent starts. Here's a look back at Ted's pitch selections since last year.
click to enlarge
Doug Davis has had a lot of success against the Cubs. If you read previous posts about Doug Davis, you'll see a bit on that, and his heavily used curveball.
Update Here are fresh numbers for Doug Davis, taken from 2008 starts (sans Cincy and Philly, which may both be correct now).
When I look at these pictures, I see him as a guy with two planes, two pitches on each - the fastball (four-seam) and change-up (two-seam?) and the cutter and the curve. Notice the release points and spin movement, but mostly the flight paths - the launch angles, when the pitches within each pair diverge, and, in the tables, how slow he throws.
Look, if he's not locating his pitches, it is not good enough stuff to avoid being crushed. But, you can see why this guy gets away with it a lot - Davis gets a lot of ground-outs, and is constantly working off-speed. Tough to time that if it isn't fat.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
In Part One, we saw what we already knew, Kosuke Fukudome is not having the success he had at the plate earlier in the season. He looks like the guy who unnerved many Cubs fans during Spring Training.
To start, this is a re-work of something from Part One, which will remind you of a notable increase in swings out of the zone, along with some more takes in the zone. He's also whiffing more, in the zone.
First question - does he show a different trend based on pitcher hand? Small sample warning for July.
He actually looks pretty stable against RHP, but LHP seem to be giving him more trouble as the season has moved on. I think we've seen this with our own eyes, too. And Fangraphs sees it, too.
Did I mention the power drops against lefties?
Another split from Fangraphs, BB% - the K% doesn't vary by pitcher hand for Kosuke, so the K/BB looks pretty much like this, too:
I'm biased towards the first pitch, too much so, perhaps (hence the "bias"). So, I decided to look at Kosuke on the first pitch. It was interesting.
Fukudome swings at a majority of first pitches in the zone against righties, but takes more strikes against lefties. The season actually started with Fukudome slightly inverted in this regard, but his numbers against lefties kept changing, as the season progresses.
July is a small sample, so it should be taken with some salt. Four grains, one for each pitch. Whiff rates are based on small samples, too, but are intriguing.
On first pitches in the zone, Fukudome whiffs on 12% of swings against righties, but 29% against lefties. That's a big difference.
And it's been a bigger problem lately. Against lefties, on first pitches in the zone, he whiffed on 2 of his first 17 swings (11.8%), but on 4 of his last 7 (57.1%).
Those are tiny samples, but, his performance has been horrid, and these numbers stick out like a sore thumb. He's taking too many first pitch strikes against lefties, and he's whiffing more when he swings at them.
I'm going to punt to Part 3 and look at lefty pitch selections against Kosuke.
The Cubs get a fresh look at Jon Rauch, who just came over to Arizona from Washington. Randy Wolf moves into our division, to Houston. This will be a great experiment in park effects.
First, are the Astros really buyers right now? Seriously? And, seeing that they are, Randy Wolf? Seriously?
Randy is not horrible, but going from Petco to the Juice Box won't work to his advantage. I've covered Wolf a few times, so I'll refer you back to some of those (over here and even here), and move on to Jon Rauch.
Rauch is huge. OK, not huge. He's not even seven feet tall. 6'11". He can dunk over Randy Johnson. Locals may remember him, from the 2002 and 2004 White Sox, who drafted him in 1999. He worked less than 40 innings for the South Siders before being shipped off to Montreal in a trade for Carl Everett. So, he was an original National, so to speak.
Rauch probably throws a full set of fastballs - four-seam, two-seam and cut. I'm lumping them into a single FA for now. He also has a change-up, and two breaking pitches.
This first pass isn't perfect, but close enough.
Which boils down to this
With some funky release points
Which make for flight paths like this - bird's eye looks like someone's first base.
Yes, he's tall (notice the release point chart y-axis is 6ft - 8ft, not the usual 5-7) and he throws hard on a downward plane. Are his pitches tough to pick-up or not?
Cubs face Yusmeiro Petit in Arizona tonight. This is just going to be a quick look at this spin movement and flight paths. I'll have some other stuff later tonight. Petit's stuff is a little unusual, and deserves more attention, but perhaps another time.
I'll post Fukudome Part 2 (here's part 1) and perhaps some other stuff later tonight.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Here's my latest cut at Randy Johnson's pitches. He'll face Rich Harden Monday night, in what has the potential to be a good match-up. The Big Unit has had two good starts in a row, but has struggled most of 2008.
Randy Johnson - Pitch Types
Very few cutters, if those are even cutters and not just noise.
Randy Johnson - Release points
Randy Johnson - Flight paths
Randy Johnson - Pitch Selection by Start
Randy shelved the splitter for at least part of May.
Randy Johnson - Pitch by Situation vs. LHH
Randy Johnson - Pitch by Situation vs. RHH
Randy likes to mix that sinking two-seamer in against righties. It's one of his most effective pitches, even compared to his more famous four-seamer and slider - not to mention the splitter.
He still has some quality stuff, but he's hittable, which was not the case for many years. He's a Hall of Famer, but I like the Cubs' chances.
Ray Durham goes from San Francisco to Milwaukee in exchange for cash and prospects, details pending, per WGN radio. No word on any other Bay Area players (cough...Huston Street...cough) at this time.
Updated: More info here - Weeks is keeping the job (for now) and the prospects have been confirmed.
Durham and Jack Taschner have been subject of gone-to-Milwaukee rumors for a couple of day snow, but the relief pitcher apparently was not part of the deal. Just 20 minutes before the mention on Cubs' pre-game, MLB.com said Taschner could still be included, and mentioned Darren Ford and Steve Hammond as part of the package going to San Francisco.
A former White Sox, Durham has a career .787 OPS and is actually over that number so far in 2008. It is more OBP than SLG, as Ray has just three home runs this year. He's also walking a bit more than both 2007 and career numbers.
Hey, wow, the Cubs just hit two straight doubles. I must be watching a re-run.
Rickie Weeks has been the everyday second baseman for Milwaukee, with Craig Counsell as back-up. Weeks has made 77 of 97 starts for the Brewers. Rickie has an OPS+ of just 82, which is put to shame by Durham's 112. Still, it is hard to imagine Durham making a major difference.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
This is a two-part look at Kosuke Fukudome's plate discipline. This post covers his overall trends in swinging, or not swinging, at pitches. Part two will discuss the effects specific splits show - or don't show (pitcher hand, speed, pitch type).
Starting off with some information from Fangraphs, we can see that Kosuke has been in decline.
First three charts are walks and strikeouts - and the picture is not pretty in the K side.
As far as hitting the ball, he's not shown any power all year.
But his ground ball rate appears to be increasing
Not good. What can PITCHf/x tell us? I like to look at four numbers - swing rate/whiff rate in/out of the zone. Breaking each down by month and by week gets towards sample sizes of some meaning - but the weekly numbers are noisy, and this week is a short, incomplete, week. Still, the numbers are consistent with what anyone watching him can see.
He's chasing more and more pitches out of the zone, and missing more pitches, too. Part Two will look at this a little more closely, including some speculation on how George Sherrill's chin music plays into all this.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Micah Hoffpauir is back in the big leagues and the Cubs' pitching staff is back down to 12. Jon Lieber has been placed on the 15-day DL with a "right foot strain", according to RotoWorld.
In 2007, Jon ruptured a tendon on that very foot, and missed the rest of the season. It's just over a year ago when something went "pop" in Lieber's right foot, and an aggravation of that injury is not out of the question. That's pure speculation, as I'm yet to find any details on Jon's status.
Micah should stick with the club until Soriano comes back, which should be soon. Derrek Lee isn't likely to need any rest at the moment, so the Cubs now have two immobile lefty hitters on the bench. Hmmm. Not sure I get that, but Hoffpauir is worthy of some at bats.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Brian Moehler and Ted Lilly repeat their May match-up Friday night in Houston. As the Cubs were heading out on that road trip, I posted a preview of Moehler and his six pitches. The Cubs won that night, behind Geovany Soto's inside-the-park-but-really-a-regular home run.
Tim Dierkes linked to a Bruce Miles piece, the big takeaway is the Cubs still need a bat on the bench and another lefty reliever. Specifically, Brian Fuentes. I have no idea how well we match-up, trade-wise, with Colorado, but Fuentes is a worthy target. I took a look at Fuentes and Manny Corpas not too long ago. I'm sure Fuentes is still nasty.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Clint Hurdle gave three top-shelf pitchers two innings a piece, following starter Ben Sheets with Carlos Zambrano and Dan Haren. He stuck to his plan for a while, but, well, the plan didn't last. But the game did.
Carlos Zambrano threw the 3rd and 4th innings. Zambrano was a little wild, but turned in two shut-out innings, capped by a pick-off of Milton Bradley. A lead-off single to Ichiro was quickly followed by a double-play from Derek Jeter. Both were on sinking, two-seam fastballs. The third inning ended uneventfully.
After Carlos struck-out A-Rod, finishing him off on a hard four-seamer, Hanley Ramirez created trouble in the 4th when he committed on error on a Milton Bradley grounder. Big Z picked-up his team by picking off Kevin Youkilis, who reached on Hanley's gaffe.
The first three pitches Zambrano threw to Manny Ramirez were not recorded by PITCHf/x, and Yankee Stadium, may it rest in pieces, has a PFX installation that runs a couple MPH hot and the spin movement is a few inches off to the catcher's left (negative on the pfx_x scale).
All-Star Game - PITCHf/x - Carlos Zambrano
mph - Pitch Speed 50ft. from home plate (I usually adjust to 55)
pfx - Movement, in inches, caused by spin
px/pz - Plate location, in feet
All negative values indicate movement/location to the catcher's left.
|3||88.9||-14.60||2.07||0.35||1.82||F2||Ichiro||Single to Right|
|4||89.9||-12.24||1.97||-0.87||2.98||F2||Jeter||643 Double Play|
|7||92.4||-6.11||5.07||1.00||3.23||FC||Hamilton||43 Ground Out|
|16||96.1||-13.90||3.54||0.15||2.12||F2||Manny||43 Ground Out|
Values are un-adjusted and taken directly from Gameday's with the exception of Pitch ID's
Hurdle's plan was Edinson Volquez in the 7th, Brian Wilson and Billy Wagner in the 8th, followed by Brad Lidge. Ryan Dempster wasn't in the plan, but the game ended up tied in the 9th, and things changed. Volquez and Wagner both blew the save, so Hurdle went back to the starters, beginning with Dempster.
Ryan didn't draw the big names Zambrano faced, but Kinsler/Navarro/Drew is no picnic. Perhaps a walk in the park. Or a walk back-and-forth from the dugout. That's what it was for the AL trio, as Ryan set all three down on strikes, sending the game to extra innings.
All-Star Game - PITCHf/x - Ryan Dempster
Refer to the notes and key above
|12||95.3||-11.72||6.45||-0.56||3.19||FA||Navarro||Foul Tip Strike out|
|18||93.9||-10.46||9.17||-0.60||1.73||FA||Drew||Called Strike out|
No matter what happens the rest of this season, or his career, Ryan Dempster can always say he struck-out the side in the bottom of the 9th of a tied All Star Game, in Yankee Stadium, the year the park closed. Being in that game, in that situation is odd enough. The chances of striking out those three guys in order is about 1 in 300, roughly speaking and based on career strike-out rates.
All-Star Game - PITCHf/x - Carlos Marmol
When the game continued on into the 13th inning, Carlos Marmol got the call. The top player remaining on the players' ballot after Kerry Wood's blister forced him out of the line-up was Marmol, but he wasn't expected to appear.
What didn't appear was Dan Uggla's mitt. After making back-to-back errors earlier in the game, he booted a one-out grounder off the bat of J.D. Drew. In all fairness, the ball hit a heal divot and took a horrible bounce up and into Uggla's chest. It had practically been rolling prior to that.
Marmol was his wild self with the fastball, controlled self with the slider. He struck-out Michael Young looking at a 3-2 slider, while Drew stole second. Carlos ended the 13th with a strike-out of Carlos Quentin, a foul-tip of another slider.
|2||81.7||0.917||-4.92||-0.444||1.614||SL||Navarro||43 Ground out|
|14||80.8||3.323||-5.075||0.352||2.972||SL||Young||Called Strike out|
|19||82.0||3.771||-5.602||0.623||3.079||SL||Quentin||Foul Tip Strike out|
Marmol was a nice finish to a fine Chicago showing, as all three of our pitchers represented the Cubs nicely.
The game went on into the 15th inning, and Terry Francona had to bring in Scott Kazmir, who, like Dempster, worked on a single day's rest. Brandon Webb replaced Marmol for the 14th, and Brad Lidge was the NL's last man out, as he took the ball for the bottom half of the 15th. Brian McCann also came in, making him the last man of the bench for either team.
It seemed the game would end after the 15th, no matter what. Would we see another Bud Selig shrug? Or a walk-off? Fortunately, the latter. A walk-off Sacrifice Fly. Michael Young drove-in Home Run Derby champ Justin Morneau to end it properly.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I just posted some PITCHf/x stuff on Rich Harden's debut as a Cub. Now some photos.
As an Athletic, throwing a four-seamer:
Same pitch, as a Cub. Note the different team colors and logo, as well as the fans in the stands, as opposed to empty seats:
Not sure what you call this one, but I don't expect to see too much of it:
Updated:No, that's not a slider.
Rich Harden was pretty impressive on Saturday against the Giants. His command wasn't sharp the whole time out, but he was able to throw two or three pitches and change speeds. He dialed up some serious heat towards the end, so this looks like a guy who has figured out how to pitch in a way that's compatible with his physical make-up. Or limitations.
That may be optimistic on my part, but I get the feeling he's not the next Mark Prior. He's not the next Jim Palmer, either, but he's something very special and adds a dimension to the Cubs that they didn't have before: A second guy with no-hit stuff.
Maddog talked about what he saw from Harden in the comments in Friday's post.
I think Harden is throwing some sliders. I know I saw a couple yesterday, but not many at all (less than 5 and maybe even only 2 or 3). He's strictly fastball/changeup for the most part.
I pulled down the PFX numbers from last night, and, guess what, I think Maddog is spot on.
There's more in the comments from me and Jon (who I believe is the spokesman for northsidebaseball.com) and a great link.
Jon Quoting Rob Bowen:His changeup acts like three different pitches, and one of them has real similar action to a split.
I added a comment, retracting my previous assertion(s) about the "slider". Change-ups, Benjamin, Change-ups. And some sliders.
The small sample exaggerates the slider's position in the aggregate view.
Not fair. Not fair at all.
Harden missed too much by his own standard, but Rich was pretty pumped-up, too.
Again, a righty working ahead on righties, behind a lefties. Something for future research....
I'll be going back, at some point, to review Harden's pitches from my previous posts and see if I can sort them out into something that is more accurate.
Friday, July 11, 2008
In the post on Harden's stuff this season @ Oakland, Jon commented on a supposed lack of sliders and a loss of velocity. Essentially, this boils down to two questions, neither of which had yet been answered to Jon's satisfaction. Or mine, for that matter.
If you haven't already, go review the post - and Jon's comment, as it contains some Gameday data that helps set this up.
Welcome back. On to the questions.
First, is that "slider" really a change-up? Some scouting reports claim he doesn't throw it anymore.
Second, has he lost any velocity?
I'll start with question #2.
Has Rich Harden Lost Any Velocity Recently?
I say no. His velocity is fine. As Jon pointed out, the only game the Gameday pitch speeds look lower are July 1 against the Angels. There are a bunch of slower "fastballs" in Anaheim that come, pretty much, together and then his velocity actually goes up to the end of the outing (just 5 innings, I believe). Rudolph the Red Dot is what Gameday called a change-up, the rest are fastballs.
Rich Harden - Fastball (and Change-Up) Speed, Beginning to End, 7/1/08 @ ANA
Going back to the Oakland home games (after his first start back from the DL), and using my own pitch ID's, here are some numbers, or a graph, of his max/avg/min pitch speed - both at release and home plate.
In his last two games, he was less effective, and, against the White Sox, he was wild. Lasting just five inning each time out, he gave up 10 hits - nine singles and a double. So, it isn't like he got pounded, either time.
Looking at fastballs, he did miss the zone more, last time out.
Just to drive the point home, his opponent's hitting numbers from those last two starts.
That's a guy who may be a little wild one day this season. No one is hitting him hard, and his velocity seems stable.
Is That a Change-Up or a Slider?
Update: Better Pitch ID's coming - see here - that's not a slider, ignore what I'm about to say, or said.....
I'm sticking with slider. The high spin rate is probably due to the fact that he throws over the top. Here's a game from Seattle, 4/4/2007 - the only PITCHf/x game for Harden last year. Spin movement looks the same, although I can see what I suspect are a couple splitters, a change lurking amongst the fastballs, and that slider. (I found them)
It is possible that the blob of pitches on the bottom is made-up of sliders and change-ups. But I ask this question - if they're so different, why are the speed and movement so similar? If that's a change-up, what the heck is it? If he gave up the slider, where is it in Seattle in 2007?
I like the fact that MLB.TV archives games. To get down to brass tacks, I went to the video tape. I just needed to watch part of the first inning against the White Sox.
First observation: Defense let him down - even after the error, Jack Cust couldn't get to a line drive (sun issues) which would've ended the inning. Not sure how Quentin scored, I had enough Hawk and DJ by that point
Second observation: I think it is a very tight slider. It's a good pitch, unfair almost. He takes a little off and on his fastball, can cut it, normally rides with a small bit of tail. But he'll throw the "slider" on any count, and anywhere, too. He should make a lot of guys look bad a lot of the time.