Saturday, May 10, 2014

Breaking Down Chihiro Kaneko's Most Recent Start

Chihiro Kaneko has blossomed into the most effective starting pitcher in the NPB, especially with Tanaka now in the MLB. So, with Yuki Matsui still in the Ni-Gun, I thought he was a logical choice for an article concerning one of his starts. In his most recent, against the Fighters, he went seven innings, 126 pitches, striking out nine, walking five, and giving up three runs (one earned) on six hits.

As a warning, some pitches didn't have velocity numbers, so all of them aren't going to show up here on the velocity and pitch count chart:

Kaneko's velocity clearly declined as the game went on, and his max pitches were all at the beginning of the game. It doesn't seem that his change and slider had much speed differential, especially compared to the extreme difference of the curveball.
 Kaneko's fastball percentage was a little low, but he spread his other pitches of his deep repertoire pretty evenly, with his slider being the most prevalent. As far is how he located his pitches, he was about evenly split on pitches in the strike zone and out of the strike zone.

As far as how he located his pitches in more specific terms, his favorite locations were low, both to the arm side, and the glove side.

If he located the pitch high, it was usually middle/high. As far as results go, it seems that only about 6 % of the pitches he threw out of the strike zone didn't turn into a ball:
Despite this, he had a good whiff percentage, and an okay foul and called strike percentage. To further break down his locations, lets look at where he located the pitches that turned into balls:

The Glove/Low location is even more prevalent here, as is the arm/low, showing that he was trying to go low for whiffs more than high for whiffs out of the strike zone. For comparison, here are the called strike locations:

 Arm low gets a big boost here, and he threw a few pitches right down the middle that did not generate a swing. Here are where his whiffs were located:

 Middle and low was the most prominent location, which probably means that he should have kept it there more than the glove side and low locations. Using more pitch specific locations, here was where he located his fastballs:

 Middle/high sees a big increase, and the low locations saw decreases, nothing surprising. Here are locations of his second most used pitch, his slider:

This is where his glove/low heavy locations come from, as nearly half of them were thrown there, like most sliders. His second most common location was the middle/high location, probably ones he couldn't get down as much as he wanted to.

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