For the first time in this blogs (short) history, I will take a look at another teams pitcher. Going forward, I will be doing this more often.
The Red Sox will be facing Rich Harden for the third time this year. Through their first two match ups, Harden has dominated. In 11 innings, he has given up 7 hits, 7 walks, 15 strikeouts and only one run. On the season, Rich Harden has 4 starts. Outside of his 5/11 start vs the Rangers, he has cruised: Game Log.
Baseball Info Solutions, where I did an internship, says Harden throws a Fastball, Slider, Changeup and Splitter. Four fairly distinct pitches, outside of the changeup and slider, that should be easy to chart. But the thing about Rich Harden is he throws everything hard. So hard that it is fairly tough to chart him with 95% accuracy. I have decided to try a program that runs a K-Means clustering algorithm for me to decipher his four pitches. I am fairly happy with the results:
This graph is the spin angle (Theta) vs start speed. Much thanks to Mike Fast for introducing me to this graphing method. The green is the fastball, the blue is the changeup the red is the slider and the orange is the splitter. Notice how closely packed the clusters are? That just shows how close his pitch types are. Understandably tough for a hitter to pick up the pitch movement. While this plot isn't perfect, it gives a good general idea of what he throws.
To look at Harden's vs the Red Sox in 2008, we only have his 4/2 start to look at. There was no f/x data for his start in Japan. Below is his pitch type by pitch count.
The only count that has a significant spread in pitch selection is 0-0. Outside of 0-0, pitch selection was fairly basic. Lots of fastballs and why not, when you can dial it up like Harden.
Here is Harden's fastball location from 4/2. In the zone and up in the zone.
Well it looks like Harden's strategy last time was here is my fastball, try and hit it. Lets see what kind of adjustments the Red Sox hitter's make tonight. After a long cross country trip, the bats might be a little slow tonight. If that is the case, Harden's fastball should dominate again.