July 25, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 99 Review: Strasburg uninspiring in 6-4 loss to Rockies

ZIMMERMAN TO D.L. FOR HAMSTRING STRAIN; TEAM RECALLS INF ZACH WALTERS

Despite an exciting ninth inning comeback attempt, the Washington Nationals fell to the Colorado Rockies 6-4 in the finale of the three-game series at Coors Field.

Nats starter Stephen Strasburg struggled again in the first inning en route to another uninspiring performance, as the nominal ace of the rotation gave up four earned runs in just 5 1/3 innings. [Read more...]

Statistically Speaking: Finding the Nats’ pipe shots

Much like last week’s Statistically Speaking article, this week’s will have a bit of an All-Star flavor to it. While this season’s game has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Nationals fans due to the lack of some very deserving players, the team ultimately selected, Nats player or otherwise, appeared to be a reasonable representation of the respective leagues. Adding insult to injury for the National League, however, was this peachy comment from the NL’s starting pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright:

“I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it,” Wainwright said. “I didn’t know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind.”

The player deserving of said pipe shots—a pitch grooved right down the middle of the plate—was of course soon-to-be-retired New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Not surprisingly, Jeter did exactly what Wainwright (and everyone else) expected him to do with the gimmie, knocking the 90 mile-per-hour offering into the outfield for a double. Upon realizing the gravity of his ‘pipe shot’ comment, Wainwright about-faced on giving Jeter the mulligan:

“Sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way,” Wainwright said in a dugout interview in the eighth inning. “I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter’s done today or off me. It was mis-said. I made a mistake.

Regardless of the ultimate result or intention of the pipe shot, the pitch was exactly as published:

numlocation.php

The PITCHf/x data also shows us (courtesy of Brooks Baseball), the pitch’s ‘px’ value was 0.1545 feet and its ‘pz’ value was 2.320 feet, which are the left/right distance of the pitch from the middle of the plate as it crosses the plate and the height of the pitch as it crosses the plate, respectively, while having 0.3206 inches of horizontal movement and 9.667 inches of vertical movement. Add it all up, and it was about as close as a pitcher could get to putting the ball on a tee for a hitter.

For Wainwright, this location and ‘grooving’ was intentional; sometimes, it isn’t quite the case, and pitches end up rolling down that pipe and right into a hitter’s sweet spot; has this been an issue for Nats pitcher this year, as talented as they are? First, let’s look at what Nats pitcher’s have done in terms of pitch location for all fastball types (the pitch of choice when you’re looking to groove a pitch), with Wainwright’s pitch in red for reference:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.10.26 PMThere appears to be quite a few pitches that could fit the bill as a pipe shot, so let’s slim the field down with some additional criteria, with some help from an old Greek. By taking the px and pz information from Wainwright’s pitch and considering that the bulls eye for all pips shots, we can use the following calculation to figure out how close each of the above 8935 fastballs were to being pipe shots:

(x-center_x)^2 + (y - center_y)^2 < radius^2 

where x is a given pitch’s px value, center_x is the Wainwright pitch px, y is a given pitch’s pz value, and center_y is the pz for Wainwright’s pitch. From here, we apply a numeric value to the radius to shrink our sphere of influence for what we will consider pipe shots. To cut to the chase and to keep numbers to a dull roar, I selected a radius of 0.001 for our pipe shot ‘winners’, which are displayed below, with the Wainwright’s pitch again in red and the average strike zone outlined in black for reference:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.09.46 PMHere, we find seven winning pitches, from, surprisingly, seven different pitchers; for those curious the table below provides additional information as to count, velocity, and pitch movement (HMov and VMov):

name pitch_type pitch_result start_speed HMov VMov balls strikes
Clippard, Tyler FF Flyout 90.7 -1.22 11.59 1 1
Fister, Doug FF Groundout 89.2 -7.278 6.27 1 2
Gonzalez, Gio FF Called Strike 92.5 6.475 9.676 0 0
Jordan, Taylor FT Called Strike 88.2 -9.67 6.25 3 0
Roark, Tanner FF Called Strike 92.6 -7.61 8.37 1 0
Stammen, Craig FT Called Strike 91.4 -10.97 4.82 2 1
Strasburg, Stephen FT Called Strike 94.5 -9.03 10.17 0 0

Overall, the pipe shots from the Nats haven’t been terribly egregious, with a pair being first pitch strikes and only one grooved in a hitters count, courtesy of Taylor Jordan. Thankfully for the Nats, all of these grooved pitches ended up without any damage being done in the form of hits balls or runs scored, unlike Wainwright’s cookie to Jeter; despite this sliver of luck with the approach, the infamous pipe shot probably isn’t the best method of garnering strikes and outs, and should be best left to the Home Run Derby.

***

Data courtesy of Baseball Savant, unless otherwise noted.
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Stuart Wallace is a Contributor to District Sports Page. A neuroscientist by day, the Nevada native also moonlights as an Associate Managing Editor for Beyond the Box Score and a contributor at Camden Depot and Gammons Daily. A former pitcher, his brief career is sadly highlighted by giving up a lot of home runs to former National Johnny Estrada. You can follow him on Twitter @TClippardsSpecs.

 

 

 

Washington Nationals Game 98 Review: Zimmerman injured, Nationals power past Rockies

RYAN ZIMMERMAN INJURED IN SIXTH AS NATIONALS RALLY PAST ROCKIES

A mile above sea level at Coors Field on Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals came back to defeat the Colorado Rockies 7-4. The victory didn’t come without a cost, however, as Ryan Zimmerman was pulled from the game in the sixth inning with a right leg injury.

The Nationals’ other Zimmerman(n), Jordan Zimmermann, took the mound for his first start since his early exit on July 11th due to a strained right biceps. On Tuesday, he just wasn’t his best and Washington fell into an early hole because of it. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 97 Review: Desmond Leads Nationals Past Rockies

DESMOND GOES 5-FOR-5 AS NATIONALS DEFEAT ROCKIES

At Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night to begin their nine game road trip, the Washington Nationals defeated the Rockies 7-2 thanks in large part to a big night from Ian Desmond.

Neither starting pitcher was overpowering, but in 5.2 innings, Doug Fister gave up two runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and two walks. For Colorado, Franklin Morales gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits with three strikeouts and four walks.

Washington jumped ahead in the fourth inning and didn’t look back. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Minor League and Prospect Report for July 20th

Another week of minor league baseball is in the books. Here are players around the Washington Nationals’ organization that are making headlines. For this week, we’ll go over players that participated in All-Star Games, among others. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Colorado Rockies Preview

After taking 2-for-3 from the Milwaukee Brewers, the Washington Nationals now head out west for a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 96 Review: Werth’s walk-off double helps Nats win series vs Brewers

NATS OVERCOME SORIANO’S BLOWN SAVE TO TOP BREWERS

Jayson Werth hit a walk-off RBI double in the ninth inning to lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park Sunday afternoon, taking two of three from the Brewers to start the second half of the MLB season on a high note.

The Nats persevered despite a rocky start from Gio Gonzalez, who lasted just 3 ⅓ innings and, in that time, allowed three runs on four hits and tossed 88 pitches.

Washington got off to an early lead in the bottom of the second after Adam LaRoche singled on a grounder to left and, with one out, Bryce Harper singled, advancing LaRoche to third. As the third time’s the charm, Ian Desmond singled home LaRoche to make it 1-0 Nationals.

But Sunday was never meant to be a shining day for Gonzalez, it seemed.

After striking out Rickie Weeks to start the third, Gonzalez gave up back-to-back walks to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Then, Jonathan Lucroy hit a soft grounder, and Gonzalez botched the play by lobbing the ball to first as Braun scored easily. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 95 Review: Early Jump Powers Nats Past Brewers

After struggling to bring home base runners in Friday night’s loss, the Washington Nationals made applied their lessons learned early in Saturday night’s 8-3 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Brewers starter Matt Garza (L, 6-7) lasted just a third of an inning, marking his shortest Major League start.

Denard Span kicked off the Nats five-run first inning with a lead-off single. Of all batters to retire, Matt Garza was able to force Anthony Rendon to strike out swinging. It would be Garza’s only out of the day, as Jayson Werth doubled deep to right, Adam LaRoche walked and Ryan Zimmerman singled home Span and Werth.

From there, Harper walked, Ian Desmond reached first on an infield single and Ramos singled home Zimmerman and Harper before Marco Estrada relieved Garza.

Perhaps eased by his five-run lead, Nats starter Tanner Roark handed back a run in the second by way of a Jonathan Lucroy double and stolen base. On the play, Ramos committed a throwing error that allowed Lucroy to come home to make it 5-1 Nationals.

The Nats tacked on additional runs in the third and fourth with help from Harper’s double in the third and walks to Werth and LaRoche in the fourth. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 94 Review: Nats Struggle with RISP in Loss to Brewers

The Washington Nationals tallied ten hits against Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Kyle Lohse, but managed to fall 4-2 in the second-half opener at Nationals Park Friday night.

Stephen Strasburg (L, 7-7) was out-pitched, despite the fact he gave up fewer hits than his counterpart. Through seven innings pitched, he allowed seven total hits and four earned runs while walking one and striking out nine. Lohse, on the other hand, allowed 10 hits and managed just three strikeouts, but held the Nats to 1 run through his seven innings of work.

The Brewers earned an early run when, number-2 batter Scooter Gennett hit the first of the Brewers’ two solo homers off Strasburg to make it 1-0.

In the second inning, Khris Davis repeated the feat with a one-out solo shot of his own to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.

To double their efforts, the Brewers tried small ball in the third. After Lohse struck out to start the inning, Carlos Gomez grounded to short for the second out. Then, Strasburg handed Gennett a walk before Ryan Braun doubled and Aramis Ramirez singled to plate Gennett and Braun and double the Brewers’ lead.

The Nats didn’t have an answer until the third, and even then, they put up a small fight.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a double before Ian Desmond brought him home on a one-out double to make it 4-1 Brewers.

Despite several opportunities for progress – most of which began with a single – the Nats waited until the ninth to post another run.

With Francisco Rodriguez pitching for Milwaukee, Bryce Harper led off with a 389-foot solo shot to trim the Brewers’ lead in half. The deficit remained intact as Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Kevin Frandsen went down in order.

THE GOOD: The Nationals tallied 11 total hits on the night – more than the Milwaukee Brewers could produce. While the long ball hurt Stephen Strasburg, he still provided a fairly solid outing – the Brewers merely capitalized on his mishaps. Bryce Harper, who has struggled a bit since returning from his injury, went 3-for-4 on the night with one run and one RBI and the solo homer. Denard Span also tallied three hits and Ryan Zimmerman added two and a run.

THE BAD: The Washington Nationals went 1-for-10 with RISP – only Ian Desmond brought home someone on the left side of the diamond

THE UGLY: The first inning featured a brief delay, courtesy of an obstruction call on a play involving Denard Span and Anthony Rendon. Span led off with a single before Rendon hit a grounder to short. Span outran the throw to second and was called safe but second base umpire Angel Campos called Span out for obstruction because of how he rebounded from his slide just in front of Scooter Gennet

THE STATS: 2 R, 11 H, 6 K, 1 HR (Harper), 1-for-10 with RISP, LOB 7

Nats Nightly: Brewers 4-2 over Nats in nation’s capital

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and “Doghouse” of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and advocate for Robot Umps.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio
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