Masahiro Tanaka made his fourth start of the season on Tuesday, pitching in Fenway Park and going seven and one thirds of an inning, walking no one and striking out seven. He gave up two runs, both solo homers, to go with seven hits. Tanaka has now given up one home run per start (two against the Red Sox, none against the Cubs), and let's start this post by looking at the two home run at-bats, which actually came right in a row.
The first was to left-hander David Ortiz:
The second was to right-hander Mike Napoli:
For comparison, here is how Tanaka pitched David Ortiz in the non-home run at-bats:
And here is how he pitched Napoli in the other two times he faced him:
Here is what Tanaka's overall pitch selection looked like from a spin and speed perspective, labelled with MLBAM tags:
One thing that stands out is fewer curveballs. Also, Tanaka threw more four seamers than sinkers. However, the most prominent thing was his velocity. It seems that he threw more pitches over 95 MPH than he had in any other start. This is probably not park related, as Fenway Park is actually known to be a "cold" park when it comes to velocity. For whatever reason, it appears Tanaka was just throwing harder.
Since we looked at location in individual at-bats, let's compare how he located each pitch on average:
For comparison, here is his average result locations:
Tanaka's groundball rate wasn't bad against the Red Sox, but he fell short of the 50% mark that he posted in the first three starts. Here is where he located the average pitch that was hit on the ground and the average pitch that was hit in the air.
This time, there was basically no difference on average. Next, continuing to look at pitch results, I wanted to do something different, giving a visual look using movement, something we haven't looked at since Tanaka's first start. So here is a simple average strike, ball, and contact movement chart:
There seems to be a considerable difference when it comes to movement and results for Tanaka, at least in this start. An average movement chart with each pitch type will most likely demonstrate which pitches were the most effective:
This again seems to support that his fastball and slider were effective and his sinker was not. Notice that his splitter and slider have low vertical numbers, and
his balls and contact pitches had higher vertical numbers on average.