WS Coverage: Pedro’s Fastballs

Tonight Pedro Martinez takes the mound again for the Phllies. Dave C noted before the series that Martinez is still a solid pitcher, but very prone to giving up the long ball. That is just what we saw in Game 2: he got 8 Ks to just 2 BB over 6 innings, but gave up two solo home runs. That is what we have seen with Pedro over the past couple years: very good at limiting walks, solid strikeouts, but horrid ground ball numbers leading to lots of HRs.

To look at this tendency of solid K/BB ratio and bad GB% I am going to take a look at a couple of his pitches. Here is the breakdown of what he throws to RHBs and LHBs.

|           |  vRHB |  vLHB |
| Four-Seam |  0.43 |  0.28 | 
| Two-Seam  |  0.15 |  0.26 | 
| Cutter    |  0.13 |  0.10 | 
| Curve     |  0.16 |  0.12 |
| Changeup  |  0.13 |  0.24 |

Against RHBs he favors his four-seam fastball, which is an extreme flyball pitch, getting just 27% ground balls. Where he locates it in the zone is a big reason. Here is the height and horizontal locations for the pitch compared to the average four-seam.
It seems that in exchange for this height, which results in all those fly balls, he is able to hit the outside edge of the zone better than most pitchers and is able to keep the pitch out of the heart of the plate

Against LHBs he mixes in his two-seam fastball more often, and this pitch shows a very interesting pattern. Here I show the horizontal location of the two pitches to LHBs for Martinez and average. The four-seam is orange and two-seam blue and Pedro’s pitches are in the full color and average in the faded.. Since there are four different lines the graph is a little cluttered.
With his four-seam fastball, just like we saw against RHBs, he is better than average at locating the pitch on the outside half of the plate and avoiding the inside half. But with his two-seam, it looks like most of the time he goes for the outside, but then some times the inside. This is an interesting bimodal distribution I have only seen before with Mariano Rivera. It looks like Martinez will at times go inside against LHBs with his two-seam fastball. This ability to keep a pitch out of the heart of the zone while hitting both edges of the plate with the same pitch type seems to me to be quite rare.

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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.

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