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Looking at the Strike Zone

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This morning, on about 97 minutes of sleep, I started looking through strikezone plots from last night's game. Turns out Jerry Crawford's night wasn't as terrible as we thought. Take a look and offer your thoughts, after the jump.

Liriano and Sabathia vs LHB



Neither pitcher seemed to get low borderline calls (in general, no matter which side of the box the hitter was on), so some consistency there is at least fair. Looking at what would be the outside portion of the strike zone, Francisco Liriano dealt five pitches which were of an acceptable height but missed the plate. Two of them were strikes, both were called (one fastball, one slider). C.C. Sabathia, missing outside, had two pitches called for strikes on the black and another four that were called for strikes but definitely outside of the strike zone (two fastballs, a sinker and a slider).

There is some difference: Liriano threw just 29 pitches (in eight plate appearances) to left-handed hitters last night, while Sabathia threw 52 (in 12 plate appearances). While it’s certainly not fair, because balls outside of the strike zone shouldn’t be called strikes in terms of a ratio, Sabathia’s consistency in working down and away to lefties seemed to work in his favor.

Liriano came off the plate and in just one, getting an out. Sabathia missed a couple of times, but he didn’t miss close and each pitch was appropriately called a ball.

Liriano and Sabathia vs RHB



The first thing I notice is that Sabathia hit the zone low and away to righties, but had those strikes called for balls on four separate occasions. Liriano, meanwhile, largely didn’t put anything is that small area. Unfortunate for Sabathia, but not really an advantage or disadvantage since there isn’t an opposing record to compare it to.

Looking outside of the strike zone, of Sabathia’s five strikes (not including balls in play) only one was a called strike (a sinking fastball): the pitch which is middle-in, with a pitch closer to the zone called a ball. For Liriano, meanwhile, of all the strikes outside of the zone only two were called and both were inside: one was nearly on the black (fastball), the other a bit further out (slider).

Game Notes

  • One of those amazing commentators was talking about how Liriano didn’t take care of the lefties he faced. Well, lefties were 2-for-7 off him, which isn’t bad. It was the timing that sucked: Robinson Cano’s single and Curtis Granderson’s triple were the killers in the sixth.
  • Liriano actually threw two changeups to lefties last night, which is almost unheard of in the sample size of 29 pitches. Both were first pitches.
  • Part of Liriano’s struggles, in spite of his ability to strike the Yankees out and get plenty of swings and misses, were due to his inability to work ahead early and stay there. Just 54% of his first pitches were strikes, two of the first three pitches were strikes just 55% of the time, and only 36% of 1-1 counts became 1-2 counts. None of those percentages are good, by the way. That’s a recipe for disaster against a lineup like New York’s.
  • On the domination side of the equation, which there was much of until the sixth, 27% of his strikes were swings and misses. That’s nearly double the Major League average. There were lots of flailing Yankees on Wednesday night.
  • The Twins did hit Sabathia hard. They posted a .409 well-hit average of at-bats, which is more than double the league average. Sadly many of them were right to a defender.

Okay, I’m done dwelling on last night. It’s time to focus on winning tonight.