Monday, April 28, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka: Start Five

Masahiro Tanaka's fifth start of the season was his shortest so far, but still relatively successful, as he went 6.1 innings and gave up two runs, including a homer, and struck out 11 and walked 4 against the Angels. Through five starts this year, Tanaka has given up 10 runs, but 5 homers. He has a 2.27 ERA and a 2.91 FIP.

Like usual, let's start by looking at the home run Tanaka gave up, this time to David Freese, on the first pitch of an at-bat.

Freese is a right-handed hitter, so the fastball was actually up and away from him. For comparison, here is how Tanaka pitched him in the other at-bats.

Tanaka went middle to high and away twice more, and gave up contact again, though for an out, and got a foul ball. When he stayed inside, he was more successful.

Here is Tanaka's spin and speed chart from the game:

Perhaps this was just affected by the park, but it seems that there were more high spin splitters in this outing. Let's see if there was any major differences in how he located in this outing compared to other outings:

The curve was still relatively high, but this time he really struggled to get the slider down. He also couldn't get the sinker glove side enough to get inside the strike zone, though his splitter was still located well. Now, here is an average result location graph for comparison.

Tanaka was more likely to give up a foul ball when he went furthest glove side. His furthest arm side pitches were the most likely to give up runs. His whiffs, yet again with the splitter, came low and arm side. It appears that they came further arm side than his average splitter as well, suggesting that his furthest arm side splitters were the best. Strangely, pitches down in the zone were less likely to turn into outs, while his outs and called strikes were basically the same, arm side and middle.

This graph will show whether or not Tanaka was able to successfully locate away from both lefties and righties:

This graph not only shows how low he threw on average (as the entire graph is an approximation of the strike zone), but it also shows that he never really got the ball glove side consistently. He was always arm side, which was good against lefties, but not as good against righties.

Tanaka's groundball percentage was the second best out of his five starts, and this time, there was a big difference between the two

Tanaka got groundballs when he stayed arm side and low, like the splitter, but gave up flyballs when he went higher and glove side, like the slider or fastball. Digging further into location, the next two graphs will look at how he located by the count in the at-bat. First, let's look at his average locations by balls in the count:

With no balls in the count, he was more likely to go higher in the zone, but the deeper into the count he got, he went lower. The lowest, and only glove side location on average, was with two balls. With one ball and three balls, he located nearly exactly the same, which seems a little strange. Here is how he located by strikes in the count.

With no strikes, he located just about everywhere, which brings his average to be right down the middle. With one and two strikes, he really attacked low, bringing his splitter more into play.

Lastly, let's see if he located any differently based on what inning it was:

In his short time in the 7th, he threw the lowest and the most glove side of all his innings, though it is notable his other glove side inning was the beginning of the game. The third was a strange inning, in that it separated his consistent 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings. The 6th inning was odd in that it was his highest zone and extremely arm side.

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