OK, so in this bit of work on Ricky Nolasco and his pitching out of the stretch versus the windup, I’m going to compare how he locates his pitches based on count type. Remember, in the previous article, I categorized each count type based on groups of linear weights values for those pitches. Based on that, I came up with three types of counts: Neutral, Hitter’s, and Pitcher’s. Based on the advice by THT writer and friend of the Maniac Nick Steiner, I went ahead and checked out the plots for these types of pitches.
Pitch location by count
Let’s start by looking at the neutral counts.
This gets to the point that both VEP and RZ pointed out in the previous article, that Nolasco may be too fine with the fastball with runners on. As you can see, he clusters his pitches closer to the edges and is far more erratic in location with runners on (right chart) than with the bases empty. Let’s see if this continues in pitcher’s counts.
There’s a little bit of difference between the locations here. In general, Nolasco looked to keep the fastball away from the zone in these pitcher’s counts, perhaps interested in getting hitters to chase bad pitches. Looking at the right side graph, however, it feels as if he tightens up around the zone with runners on, whereas he may be more loose with the bases empty.
Finally, let’s look at the locations under a hitter’s count. Keep in mind that there are a lot fewer pitches in this category than in the other two.
Nothing to report here, though it can be noted that Nolasco was far more careful pitching outside with runners on than he was with the bases empty. This is understandable.
So what can we garner from this? It appears as if, in neutral counts, Nolasco is getting fine with his fastball and missing on the outer edges. This seems to be causing a problem in terms of getting into favorable counts, something that we saw in the previous piece. I took a look at balls vs. called strikes in these neutral counts to see if there was anything unusual about the strike zone being implemented. Keep in mind that we’re looking at 356 and 332 pitches in neutral counts with bases empty and runners on respectively.
A few oddly placed balls here and there, but for the most part these strike zones are pretty closely called. The difference does indeed seem to be his placement of these pitches. This inability to locate as well as he does with runners empty may be running Nolasco into more hitter’s counts, thus leaving him with fewer options. It would certainly explain the differences in strikeouts and walks. In the next piece (if and when I get a chance), I’ll take some basic linear weights and determine the context-free run values of Nolasco’s pitches in these situations. I’ll likely take a look at these by pitch count akin to the above shown. We may actually be getting somewhere digging through this research.