David Robertson Is Not Throwing Fastballs

In Saturday’s Game 2, David Robertson relieved Tommy Kahnle, who had relieved Luis Severino. Robertson worked two shutout innings, and the first of them was the bottom of the seventh, during which Robertson threw 13 pitches. Here is a log of what they were.

  1. breaking ball
  2. breaking ball
  3. breaking ball
  4. breaking ball
  5. breaking ball
  6. breaking ball
  7. breaking ball
  8. breaking ball
  9. breaking ball
  10. breaking ball
  11. breaking ball
  12. breaking ball
  13. breaking ball

Robertson’s first pitch in the bottom of the eighth was a fastball. It was taken for a strike.

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About That Pitch to Justin Turner

We all know that John Lackey‘s 1-0 sinker down and in to Justin Turner last night was deposited by the Dodgers third baseman into the outfield seats, resulting in a walk-off win for the home team in Game 2 of National League Championship Series. It’s possible, however, that the Cubs actually lost the game a moment before that — not when Turner’s fly ball cleared the outfield fence, but when Lackey and catcher Willson Contreras agreed on that particular pitch. Because, as good as Justin Turner was in 2016, he was better in 2017 and all the improvements he made in between helped prepare him for Lackey’s 1-0 offering.

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Justin Verlander’s Slider Was Fixed Before Houston

During the Astros’ walk-off win on Saturday, Justin Verlander threw a 124-pitch complete game, which I didn’t think was allowed. Verlander piled up 13 strikeouts, and, of those, nine came on sliders. Verlander threw 39 sliders in all, 30 of which went for strikes, in large part because the Yankees swung at the slider 27 times. Verlander’s always been known for his fastball, and, in Game 2, the heat was there from start to finish, but the slider appeared overwhelming, with the Yankees having absolutely no answer.

This part’s almost obligatory. Let’s watch a couple strikeout sliders, if only just for the memories.

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Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Greetings!

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Happy LCS season to you ….

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started

12:06
AJ Preller: With increase demand in long receiver especially in PS games, will I be able to sell Hand for a similar package I received for Kimbrel?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: No. But Hand should fetch a nice return

12:07
Padre fan: How many more years do I have to sit in the couch and hope that dodgers lose the POs until my team actually makes their way to the POs?

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Pitching Labels Are Increasingly Irrelevant

David Robertson has flourished in a multi-inning role this postseason. (Photo: Keith Allison)

Current Cy Young-candidate Chris Sale and former Cy Young-winner Justin Verlander faced off last Monday in Game 4 of the ALDS on a dreary afternoon in Boston. It’s the kind of matchup that grabs our collective attention. It’s how they were matched up, however — each pitcher entering the game out of his respective team’s bullpen — that merits further consideration. For Sale, it marked his first relief appearance since 2012. For Verlander, it was the first time he’d pitched out of the bullpen as a major leaguer.

During LDS play, David Price, Jose Quintana, and Max Scherzer were among the other starting pitchers employed as relievers.

A year after Buck Showaler failed to use Zach Britton in an elimination game and the Indians creatively employed Andrew Miller in the late summer and October to nearly advance to a World Series title, it seems managers (and, by extension, the clubs they represent) are attempting to replicate the latter approach, thinking unconventionally, moving away from tradition to best leverage pitching talent.

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Job Posting: Chicago White Sox Baseball Analytics Fellowship

Position: Chicago White Sox Baseball Analytics Fellowship

Location: Chicago

Description:
The Chicago White Sox seek a passionate, knowledgeable, and dedicated individual with a desire to work in Baseball Operations. The fellowship will focus primarily on the numerical methods that drive Baseball Analytics, however there will be additional exposure to all facets of baseball operations. The fellowship is a paid position with a 10-12 month term.
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Job Posting: Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Sports Science Internship

Position: Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Sports Science Internship

Location: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Description:
We are seeking candidates with a passion for winning through improving player development and performance, injury prevention, nutrition, and enhancing player well-being through sports science. These unique positions offer interns the opportunity to integrate sports science, athletic training, and nutrition aimed at improving the performance and well-being of players across the entire Rays organization. Both full season (Feb – Oct) and summer positions (May – Sept) will be considered. Please note that these internship positions often have the potential to lead to full-time employment offers with the Rays organizations, but such an offer is not guaranteed.
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Job Posting: Cincinnati Reds Baseball Operations Data Scientist

Position: Cincinnati Reds Baseball Operations Data Scientist

Location: Cincinnati

Description:
Work with the Manager of Baseball Analytics to implement the department’s research and development efforts within new and existing applications. We envision the person in this position to play a major role in the creation of new baseball analytics concepts with the ultimate goal of enhancing on-field performance.
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Joe Maddon Had a Bad Night

Last night, the Cubs lost Game 2 of the NLCS to the Dodgers and now head back to Chicago down 2-0 in the series. They lost on a Justin Turner walk-off home run, but the big story after the game was who threw the pitch that Turner drove over the center-field fence. John Lackey, a career starter who had never pitched on back-to-back days, was brought in to face Chris Taylor with a man on in the ninth inning. Wade Davis, the team’s best reliever, did not pitch.

Last year, Buck Showalter was excoriated for leaving Zach Britton in the bullpen to watch Ubaldo Jimenez end the team’s season, and given the drastic shift we saw in postseason reliever usage after that happened, it seemed like no one was in any hurry to be the next guy to lose a road game while holding his closer for a save situation that would never come. After a few weeks of pretty aggressive reliever usage — Maddon called on Davis in the seventh inning of Game 5 on Thursday, after all — this was a pretty surprising decision, and Maddon is taking a lot of heat for going to Lackey to face the middle of the Dodgers order in a situation where a run ends the game.

But of all the decisions he made last night, I actually think that one is one of the more defensible.

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Sunday Notes: Corey Knebel is Still an Adrenaline Junkie

Corey Knebel has come a long way since I first talked to him four years ago. At the time, the hard-throwing right-hander was wrapping up an Arizona Fall League season, five months after the Detroit Tigers had drafted him 39th overall out of the University of Texas.

Knebel is now 25 years old and coming off a season where he logged 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers. In January 2015, the NL Central club acquired him from the Texas Rangers, who’d earlier procured his services from the perpetually-bullpen-deficient Tigers.

According to Knebel. while some things have changed since our 2013 conversation, overs haven’t. By and large, he’s the same guy on the mound.

“I guess I’ve kind of grown into this new role,” the 6’4″ 220-lb. fastball-curveball specialist told me in September. “Other than that, I’ve just tried to perfect two pitches. I like to focus on what I know I can do. My delivery is the exact same — I’m still herky-jerky — although I don’t go from the windup anymore; I’m just straight stretch.”

There has been a velocity jump. Knebel’s heater averaged 97.8 MPH this season, up a few ticks from previous seasons. He didn’t have an explanation for why that is, but he does know one thing — it’s not because of a weighted-ball program. Read the rest of this entry »


The Best of FanGraphs: October 9-13

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community Research.
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Effectively Wild Episode 1123: Judgment Calls

EWFI

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about Yellowstone-explosion sensationalism and discuss the improbability of the Cubs’ 277-minute NLDS Game 5 victory over the Nationals, the game’s umpiring oddities and errors, the Nationals’ and Cubs’ reputations and legacies in the wake of the series, and what to do about instant replay and slides.

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Matt Wieters Continues to Be Cursed

Baseball can be really weird, but the game has rarely facilitated action more unusual than the sort that occurred in the fifth inning of Game 5 on Thursday night between the Nationals and Cubs.

The inning in question produced a series of four events that had never happened consecutively in the game’s recorded history, covering some 2.3 million half-innings.

Craig Edwards dove into a potentially overlooked batter-interference call that would have stopped the Nationals’ hemorrhaging in the inning, held the deficit at one, and perhaps have allowed the team to keep playing this October.

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The Nationals’ Protest Case

In a win-or-go-home game that finishes 9-8, there are going to be a lot of important moments. Big plays made or not made by players. Important decisions made or not made by managers. Huge calls made or not made by umpires. We never want to focus on the umpires if at all possible because it takes away from the more important and more entertaining aspects of the game. At some point, however, it’s impossible to omit them from the conversation.

In the top of the fifth inning of last night’s deciding Division Series game between the Cubs and Nationals, the visiting team had runners on first and second base. With two outs and an 0-2 count, Max Scherzer threw Javy Baez a pitch in the dirt. Baez swung and missed for strike three, but the ball got past Matt Wieters, allowing Baez to run to first base. During Baez’s backswing, his bat made contact with Wieters’ helmet.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 10/13/17

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: Technically my second Friday baseball chat of this Friday, for you east coasters

9:05
Bork: Hello, friend!

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friend

9:06
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Jeff, thanks for chatting last night and being back again now. It was a really tough loss for Washington, but, as in every elimination game, it isn’t one play that ends a season. That said, I think there are multiple issues surrounding instant replay that the league will have to address after last night’s game. Is baseball still a game of inches? Or, with instant replay, is it now a game of millimeters?

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Job Postings: Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Research and Development Positions

Position: Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Research and Development Analyst, Junior Analyst and Intern

Location: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Description:
We are seeking Research and Development analysts and interns with a passion for winning through mathematics, data analysis and computation. Our R&D group helps shape our Baseball Operations decision making processes through the analysis and interpretation of data. Our analysts and interns work both individually and collaboratively, coming up with interesting research questions to tackle, finding ways to answer those questions with the data at our disposal, communicating the results of their research to decision makers and other staff, and working to apply the results of their research to improve how our organization operates. We desire candidates who want to make an impact on how our organization makes decisions, will challenge the status quo and explore new ways to make us better.

Responsibilities:

  • Statistical modeling and quantitative analysis of a variety of data sources, for the purpose of player
    evaluation, player development and strategic decision making.
  • Communicating with front office, coaching, player development, scouting and medical staffs to design
    and interpret research and to apply actionable findings.
  • Designing tools to help support decision making processes throughout our organization.
  • Working collaboratively with and assisting other members of our department with your areas of
    expertise.
  • Collecting private and public data for additional analysis.
  • Ad hoc research and quantitative analysis in support of general Baseball Operations tasks.

Qualifications:

  • For intern and junior analyst: A strong foundation in mathematics, statistics, computer science and/or
    engineering. For analyst: Advanced degree in a related field or 2+ years related work experience.
  • Some experience with computer programming. Experience with R, Python, and/or Stan preferred.
  • Experience solving complex problems in a rigorous way.
  • Creativity to discover new avenues of research with the potential to help us win.

To Apply:
To apply, please send an email to researchresume@raysbaseball.com with the subject “R&D Positions” and include a resume, an unofficial transcript (if you were enrolled in a college degree program within the last three years) and answers to the following questions:

  1. When would you be available to start?
  2. Where did you discover this position?
  3. What is a project you believe would add substantial value to a baseball team? Please describe the project and provide an overview of how you would complete it.

Job Postings: Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Operations Internships

To be clear, there are three positions here.

Position: Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Operations Affiliate Internships

Location: Various
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Corey Kluber Is Great, Still Human

The Cleveland Indians’ season concluded on Wednesday night. The team that had thrilled fans with their September winning streak and entered the postseason as the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the World Series was eliminated by a very good New York Yankees team. You can argue how fair it it that the Indians, by virtue of being the best team in the American League this year, had to face the Wild Card-winning Yankees, perhaps the second-best team in the the American League. In any event, that’s the way the playoffs are set up: the Yankees won and the blame game can begin.

People will look to the young star hitters Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, who combined to reach base at a .227 clip, strike out 13 times, and record just a single extra-base hit over the five games. Others will (foolishly) question the Indians’ mental fortitude after dropping six consecutive potential series-clinching games in the past two years. And yes, many will place blame at the feet of Indians ace Corey Kluber, who was as rough in this year’s playoffs as he was brilliant in last year’s.

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Didi Gregorius Is in the Right Place and Time

Back when he was a minor leaguer, Didi Gregorius hit a combined total of 26 home runs. Gregorius is now the regular shortstop for the Yankees, who are a major-league franchise, and last week, he hit his 26th home run of this year alone, off of Ervin Santana. In Game 5 of the ALDS, Gregorius hit home run number 27, off of Corey Kluber. Two innings later, he hit home run number 28, also off of Kluber. Gregorius hits for power now, and while this feels like a fairly sudden development, it hasn’t been so sudden that Gregorius hasn’t been able to perfect the subtle bat flip. By now, Gregorius has hit enough home runs that he knows what they feel like right away.

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Dear MLB: Please Fix The Slide Replay

In one of the craziest, weirdest, most bizarre baseball games anyone has ever seen, the Cubs beat the Nationals 9-8 tonight, advancing to the NLCS. The game had everything you could think of and then some: catcher’s interference, RBI strikeouts that maybe shouldn’t have counted, Max Scherzer hitting a batter to force in a run, and Michael Taylor hitting a bomb on a pitch at his eyes. But, unfortunately, the lasting memory of this game might just be that MLB’s replay rule on slides into a base still sucks.

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