Saturday, May 3, 2014

Breaking down Takayuki Kishi's No-Hitter

On Friday, Seibu Lions right-hander Takayuki Kishi threw a no-hitter against the Chiba Lotte Marines, completing the shutout in 117 pitches. For this week's look at a NPB pitcher, with Yuki Matsui still in the Ni-gun, I thought it would make sense to look at his no-hitter and see how he was so successful in his outing.

First, let's take a look at his pitch velocities, labelled with the Yahoo tags, along with his pitch count.

He did an okay job of holding his velocity throughout, though his fastest fastballs came at the very beginning of the game. He then fell a couple of ticks down for a while before a short spike. He then slowed down again before his last couple of fastballs when he got his fastball up to about where it was at the very beginning of the game.

While Kishi has been a good NPB pitcher for quite sometime now, he is not a household name, especially for those who do not follow the NPB with regularity. So I think it might be helpful to see what the average velocity of his pitches were in the game, just to give a better idea of what his average stuff is like. The bar itself is based on KMH, while the number in the parenthesis is in MPH:

He is not a hard thrower by MLB standards, and only really average at best when compared to NPB standards. He has a slow hook, and a change that is under 80 MPH, but his slider has a respectable velocity of 81-82 MPH. 

In an attempt to see how Kishi was successful in the game on Friday, let's look at how often he used the four pitches he showed off:

He used his fastball a relatively normal amount, and didn't seem to fall in love with any of his off-speed pitches. His slider was his least used pitch, while his change was his second most used pitch. This may have to do with the platoon of the opposing batters.

Obviously Kishi didn't give up any hits, but a further look at his pitch results may reveal exactly why he didn't give up hits:

Notice that he was much more of a flyball pitcher than a groundball pitcher, and his whiff percentage was only slightly above average. He gave up a lot of contact and didn't strike out a lot of hitters. However, this shows that he threw a lot of strikes.

Where exactly did he throw these pitches? This graph should give us a good idea:
Overall, Kishi was pretty balanced, not ignoring a location, or focusing on just one. Low in the strike zone seemed to be the norm, as glove low and arm low were his two favorite locations. However, middle low was his least frequent, meaning that he threw it to one side when he threw it low, which matches what we see on high pitches. He also stayed out of the very middle of the plate.

What is impressive about this last fact is that Kishi threw a large amount of pitches in the strike zone:

The above graphs suggest that he lived on the corners of the strike zone very well.

The last four graphs will be about his fastball, with the first two showing his fastball results by velocity and pitch count, and then by percentage.

Strangely, many of his hardest thrown fastballs were either fouls or balls. Most of the flyballs came on the middle velocity fastballs or the slowest fastballs, not surprising. He also seemed to get whiffs with his fastball earlier in the game than later in the game. The graph seems to show the uptick in velocity back to where it was at the beginning of the game late that I noted in the first graph.

Oddly, his fastball was a more efficient whiff pitch than his other pitches, but it also ended up being foul balls a lot as well. His strike percentage was exceptionally high with the pitch, as was his flyball percentage.

Now, let's look at how he located the fastball, first by velocity and pitch count:

Now by percentage:

He really liked to throw it high, and he balanced keeping it arm side, glove side, and middle while doing so. When he threw it low, it was usually arm side. He almost never kept it arm side and in the middle of the plate.

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