Thank you for this, I was getting tired of all the comments about how Verlander made good pitches, but just got hit hard. His fastball location was off the whole night, I kept telling myself it was only a matter of time before those mistakes turned into gopher balls.
Avila was very clear that Verlander could not command his fastball. Therefore he threw more breaking pitches than usual, which got fouled off because they were not mixed with his usual scary and well-located heater.
Comment by Darrell Berger — October 25, 2012 @ 12:53 pm
It’s a nice story, but it’s not true.
For the season, PITCHF/x has Verlander at 50% fastballs, 12% sliders, 15% curves, and 22% change-ups. Last night, he threw 55% fastballs, 12% sliders, 15% curves, and 17% change-ups.
Honest question, but since when can’t Delmon Young throw? I’m a Rays fan and haven’t seen a whole lot of his defense since he left, but when he was here, he had probably the best OF arm on the team and that is a team with BJ Upton on it. He had an absolute cannon.
Does the pitch to Scutaro look like a hanging slider because he hit it? If he’d missed it, it would look like it had decent drop at least. I often wonder about the results dictating our opinion of the pitch.
I don’t think they were good pitches. For a player other than Sandoval those might have jammed them or got swinging strikes. But we know what sort of player Sandoval is, and he hits the type of pitches Verlander threw. When Pablo is batting, you can expand the strikezone by about half a foot in every direction, so looking at it that way, the first home run pitch was a high strike and the other one was on the mid-outer part of the plate. Both perfectly hittable.
PitchFX says he throws them about 7% of the time. I think his fastball has above-average armside movement though, which is characteristic of a two-seamer, so classification is beside the point perhaps.
It looked bad to me. It didn’t have much drop or lateral movement, though it could have been worse. However, more egregious is it’s location right over the middle of the plate, as the article theme suggests. Even a good slider looks good over the middle of the plate, which is why they’re generally used in the “backdoor sense” – thrown outside to cut in and catch the corner – or to be thrown so as to break out of the zone and become unhittable.
Its also not all that uncommon for catchers to intentionally set up their targets away from the intended location if they think the batter likes to take peek once in a while. It’s especially true when the pitcher is ahead in the count and has no intention of throwing a strike. Otherwise it’s avoided because strikes are often called balls if the catcher has to reach back across to catch the ball.
The one thing I noticed about Verlander’s location was how often he was missing high and out to his arm side. He didn’t have that perfect understanding of his release point by any means last night. I wish I could prove this using pitch f/x, but the data on here only goes to the end of the regular season.
First off, I swear by turning off the brain trust that is Buck/McCarver and listening to the WS like your grandpa on AM radio. Shulman/Hershiser are 1000x better.
Anyway, before the 2nd Panda bomb, when the Tiger pitching coach hit the mound, Orel called it that the advice was to go back to more fastballs. Next pitch….fastballl. Gone. I think the bigger issue wasn’t location as much as Verlander trying to be perfect for the big stage. He lost both his WS start in ’06 and it seemed like he was trying to make up for that.
Comment by MLB Rainmake — October 25, 2012 @ 5:58 pm
First of all, Verlander got squeezed a little, and suddenly got killed by Sandavol on a decent but not perfect 0-2 high fastball. Some bad luck, a few pitches that could have been called strikes, and Sandavol hitting Babe Ruth will get a guy a loss most times. Oh, and his offense didn’t help.
Zito deserves a lot of credit, because this is his second start out of nowhere due to Lincecum not being Lincecum anymore but keeping his composure. His fastball can barely hit 87 but he baffled the Tigers most the night(and his vintage curve was seen and as ridiculous as ever.) One guy hit his spots, didn’t lose his cool if a close pitch wasn’t called a strike, and proved he’s not done yet. Avila and Verlander never seemed on the same page when you see where he’d set up and pitches ended up. The past two games with Zito, while not being the ace he once was, stepped UP again.
I wonder about that too. And even more than it dictating our opinion of those particular pitches, I wonder if we can really conclude that Verlander struggled with his location overall just by highlighting 2 pitches that led to singles. I mean location mistakes happen in every game, it’s just that very often pitchers will get away with them (especially a pitcher with the kind of stuff Verlander has). If anybody ever did a piece like this after a pitching gem (like for example, Cain’s perfect game earlier this year) I bet they could likewise highlight the same location mistakes or worse that were simply taken, fouled away, or produced routine outs. What you would need for context is some way to quantify how many location mistakes a pitcher makes in a typical outing (regardless of the outcome of those pitches) so you can have that as a baseline to be able to know when they’ve really made more mistakes or fewer than they normally do. Until then it’s just way too easy to always conclude that location dictated the outcomes even if it’s not necessarily the case.
Okay, I don’t like making excuses, especially for superstars that
get paid all that money, but these guys just finished a 162 game
regular season schedule, two layers of play-off series, and now
the World Series. These players are worn out, and us fans have
to put up with less than quality performances, just so the
greedy owners and the networks can make extra money! Well,
neither the Giants or Tigers are my favorite teams, but follow
Cabrera, Fielder, and Verlander, and furthermore, did not
watch the Game. And now, I’m glad I did not waste my time
Comment by Juan Chapa — October 25, 2012 @ 8:09 pm
He throws both but they pretty much do the same thing. You can see all kinds of photos of him gripping a two seamer. I wonder if he throws mostly four seamers to his arm side and two seamers to his glove side. It’s probably more a comfort issue with him than thinking of it like two different pitches. Pitch f/x is pretty terrible at telling the two apart, too.
Comment by Eric Cioe — October 26, 2012 @ 10:32 am