Sunday, April 27, 2014

Breaking Down Shohei Otani's Most Recent Start

With Yuki Matsui now in the Ni-Gun, I wanted to continue my breakdown of NPB starts. So until he gets back up, I will look at individual starts of notable NPB pitchers, with this one being about Shohei Otani's start on April 27th against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Through four starts this season, Otani has struck out 28 batters and walked 7 with a 2.83 ERA in 22 innings. His start against the Marines was his worst so far, as he still struck out 9 in 7 innings and walked just 1, he gave up 2 home runs and 5 runs, all earned.

Let's start looking at his start by looking at his velocity and pitch count chart:

It appears that Otani maxed out at the end of his outing with his fastball. At the beginning, he started slow for him, and built up to around the 40-50 pitch mark before decreasing again. Once he got to about 100 pitches, he started throwing as hard as he could, with both his fastball and his splitter/fork. His slider velocity basically moved the same way his fastball velocity.

So since this wasn't a great start for Otani, let's break down his results:

It seems that he gave up a lot of fall balls, but he had a good strike percentage and got plenty of called strikes. His whiff percentage was only about average. Looking at the pitches he threw in the strike zone, it appears that if anything, Otani threw too many pitches in the strike zone.
Here is where Otani liked to locate his pitches in the outing:
Otani threw a great number of pitches low and to the glove side. However, Otani's second biggest location was right down the middle, perhaps confirming that he threw too many hittable pitches (as the two home runs show). Middle arm and high glove were his least frequent locations. Otani only threw three different kind of pitches, and his pitch breakdown may give us an insight on why and how he located:

His fastball percentage was perhaps a little low, and he threw a lot of sliders, which may be why he located so many pitches low and to the glove side. One of the home runs he gave up was on the fork (splitter) and another on a fastball. Looking further into his pitch selection, the following two graphs breakdown how he got groundballs, and how he got flyball. As the second graph shows, he gave up more flyballs than groundballs:

Otani was more likely to get groundballs off the fastball, and flyballs off the slider. His forkball was also more likely to get flyballs.

Since, like most pitchers, Otani's main pitch is his fastball, let's compare the pitch to his overall results and locations.

Clearly Otani located the fastball to the low glove side less than his slider. Surprisingly he threw less pitches down the middle with the fastball than his other two pitches. Middle glove and low arm side were two locations that saw increases, as well as high arm.

Otani's fastball results:
The fastball is where a good number of his foul balls came from, and his strike percentage was higher with the fastball. His whiff percentage was lower with the fastball. The following graph also shows that he threw more pitches in the strike zone with the fastball than his other two pitches:

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