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Moving Lee

Cliff Lee played with batters minds Monday night, and no where did it show up better than on his second inning strikeout of Alex Rodriguez.  The following graphic shows how Lee's pitches to right-handed batters moved during game three.  Note that the movement is from where the ball reaches the plane of the plate, not from the center of the plate.


Cliff Lee pitch movement vs. RHB, 2010 ALCS Game 3

Lee's pitches either moved away from right-handers as they reached the plate, or down and in.  In Alex's at bat, pitches four and five both had movement away.  Both started out over the plate and moved away.  Pitch six, however, started out a bit away.  After seeing the previous two pitches, Alex responded by assuming it would break away for a ball.  Instead, it broke in and down for the third strike, Rodriguez starting for the dugout before the ump rung him up.  It's a classic example of establishing a pattern, then pitching against that pattern to fool a hitter.


Cole Hamels and the Change-Up to RHB

As a second encore to the efforts of Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in Philadelphia, Cole Hamels will take the ball Tuesday in San Francisco to kick off a pivotal NLCS Game 3. Having salvaged a home split, The Phils will now try to take two of three - or better - in San Francisco to regain control of the Championship Series.

Let's take a closer look at a bit of minutiae that could help the Phillies grab their first lead of the series. 


Hamels's CH vs. RHBThe Giants lineup is primarily right-handed, and Hamels will need to utilize his fastball and cutter inside on the righties to set up the low and outside change. Throughout the course of the 2010 season, Hamels has frequented the outside corner with his change, and that location has proved to yield outs in abundance.

A look at some heat maps shows just how frequently Hamels liked to hit the outside corner with his change against righties (top), and just how ineffective those hitters have been when he hits his spots (bottom).

Opp. SLG vs. Hamels's CHCompare that to the collective SLG that opposing hitters have against Hamels's change, and a similarity emerges: righties really aren't doing any damage against his change-up down and away.

Notice, also, that these pitches aren't being burned. Hamels is hitting the strike zone pretty consistently, and those change-ups that do cross in that area of the zone - including the area a couple inches outside - result in opponents hitting just .186 with a .209 SLG. On the other hand, if Hamels misses over the middle or on the inner half, those numbers balloon to a .419 AVG and .806 SLG. The San Francisco lineup isn't exactly one to fear (outside of Babe Cody Ross, obviously), but exploiting this strength could be an effective means of suppressing the Giants offense.


Painting with Mr. Lee

Cliff Lee was impressive last night in Game 3 (pitch log) of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. He threw 122 pitches with an unpredictable mix:

fastballs: 52

cutters: 40

change: 14


Of his 23 "first pitches" he threw 13 fastballs and 14 cutters.

Most importanly he painted the strike zone. As you can see from our pitch location heat map below Lee effectively painted the strike zone and rarely threw anything down the middle.

Heat Map: Cliff Lee pitch locations ALCS Game 3Very impressive.

This blog was created using the In Depth Baseball analytics platform. For more information on the platform click here.