Sunday, June 8, 2008

Red Sox vs Erik Bedard, Again

The Red Sox will get a chance to avenge their defeat at the hands of Erik Bedard on May 28th. In that game, Bedard threw 7 innings, giving up 2 hits, no runs and striking out 8 on 110 pitches.

Going into that game, we previewed Bedard's pitches through BIS and IE data.

Now here is a look at the pitch f/x data from that start:

First thing is that pitch f/x shows he throws four pitches: Fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball. The point of the first post on Bedard wasn't to point out the vast differences between the two companies, but that is what ended up coming out of it. Below is his horizontal vs vertical chart. Note that pitch f/x only recorded 109 of his 110 pitches. We are missing one ball.

Chart looks like he threw lots of cutters and very little changeups right?

Well you are correct. Here are the numbers:

stand FB CT CB CH Grand Total
L 10 28.6% 18 51.4% 7 20.0% 0 0.0% 35
R 23 31.1% 22 29.7% 25 33.8% 4 5.4% 74
Grand Total 33 30.3% 40 36.7% 32 29.4% 4 3.7% 109

It is not often that you see a starter throw more cutters than fastballs in one game. Percentage wise, he preferred to throw the cutter vs the lefties but he wasn't shy about using it on the righties. Bedard only threw 4 changeups all game and they all came against the righties. I would love to hear his thinking behind not using that changeup more. Whatever reason, it proved to be effective.

Here is his pitch choice by count and batter hand:

One reason he might not have used much besides his cutter vs lefties is because he didn't get deep into counts. Only twice did he face a 3 ball count vs the lefties. Against righties, he was just as likely to throw the curveball early in the count as he was his fastball or cutter. Staying ahead of hitters in this game was a key to Bedard's success.

He faced 25 batters. Of those 25 first pitches, 12 were ball, 9 were called strike, 3 were foul and 1 was a swinging strike. That is not as good of a first strike percentage that we would expect from his dominating performance. So where did he make up for this? When he fell behind 1-0, he battled back to have 5 called strikes, 1 foul, 1 out and 1 swinging strike.

One last thing I found while going over his chart. Not sure how significant this is, but I thought it was pretty neat.

When he threw his curveball, here are his average horizontal and vertical breaks, by pitch result:

Ball -5.8 -6.0 1347.6
Ball In Dirt -7.8 -7.8 1825.4
Called Strike -6.3 -7.1 1525.8
Foul -6.9 -7.0 1593.3
In play, out(s) -6.5 -8.5 1658.4
Swinging Strike -6.7 -6.8 1519.1
Average -6.3 -6.7 1480.5

Anything jump out at you? When he threw a ball, the pitch movement was less than average. When he threw a ball in the dirt, it was greater than average. So it almost seems like there is a fine line when it comes to throwing a curve. Put to much movement on it and it will be in the dirt. Put less movement on it and it will be a ball. Maybe it is nothing, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I also looked at the curves through release point and spin angle and didn't notice a difference.

Finally, here is everyone's favorite cluttered strike zone chart, from the catcher's point of view:

Kept the curve and cutter down. If the Sox hope to be successful tonight, they will have to battle and hope his curve isn't on. Bedard has been fairly inconsistent this year so lets hope they catch him on an off day.

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