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Entries in Jamie Moyer (2)

Thursday
Apr122012

Young Versus Old: Moyer Going for Big Win

When lefty Jamie Moyer, 49, toes the rubber today against the San Francisco Giants, he will be going for a Major League Record win: to be the oldest pitcher to ever record a win in Major League Baseball. He'll have to hope the Rockies bring their bats again, coming off a back and forth tilt with the Giants the night before. He'll be facing one of the promising new left handed pitchers in the game, Madison Bumgarner. 

Most amazingly, Jamie Moyer has secured a role on a Major League staff after coming off major reconstructive surgery (Tommy John's). He threw 5 innings, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits and 1 base on balls. He managed to strike out two batters, though he also gave up two home runs.

Moyer has evolved from a young thrower to a veteran pitcher. He no longer has the pure "stuff" to blow it by hitters, and relies on his command and change of speeds to fool hitters. In his first start of the season, Moyer featured four pitchers (in descending order of use): Sinker, Changeup, Fastball, and Curveball. His fastball topped out at 79.8 mph. Though his start may have seemed shaky, the defense behind him did not help his cause, bumping up his pitch count in the fourth inning by posting up three errors. For Moyer to succeed, he is going to need the help of his infield.

Moyer needs to be a groundball pitcher, effectively keeping his sinker low in the zone to induce weak contact. For his career, he has a .73 GB/FB ratio, and this needs to change to keep balls in the park. He seems to have made this effot, and in fact, in his first start, only four of his pitches were located in the upper third of the zone, while 58% were located in the lower third. He also targeted away from hitters, spotting balls on the outside 50.7% of the time versus 29% and 20.3% middle and in, respectively.

Moyer's Pitch location on April 7th, 2012 (first game since 2010)

Next, we'll analyze the pitch selection in the at bats that resulted in Home Runs, the biggest blows in the game while Moyer was on the hill. The first happened to be the first batter of the game, where Jordan Schafer took Moyer deep to right on a 76mph four seam fast ball.

 

Moyer managed to keep the ball down while commanding both sides of the plate, showcasing the sinker only on the fifth pitch. The problem with this at bat was that Moyer left three fastballs all in the same location; major league hitters will eventually time those up, and the result was an early deficit for the Rockies.

In the fourth inning, Moyer made a pitcher's pitch and got beat by JD Martinez. The pitch was well inside, but the young outfielder managed to get his hands through the ball to drive it to left field. Here, Moyer had begun to mix in his offspeed pitches, using the curveball and changeup to start off the at bat.

This season, Moyer will fill the role of crafty lefty for Colorado, and it will be the responsibility of the defense to keep runners off base. Moyer will attempt to keep the ball on the ground, and in the ballpark, something that is sometimes hard to do at the launching pad he now calls home, Coors Field.

Thursday
Mar082012

Jamie Moyer and the Fat Part of the Plate

Jamie Moyer is 49 years old, coming off Tommy John surgery and is trying to make a team that plays its home games nearly a mile above sea level. As far as odds go, the lefty seemingly has as good a chance of succeeding as a Kardashian has at winning a MacArthur genius award. Yet Moyer's quest to become the oldest player to ever win a MLB game did at least get off to a good start yesterday: he tossed two scoreless innings against the Giants, whiffing one.

Despite possessing a fastball that opponents getting beaned might mistake for a gentle breeze, Moyer managed to be a nearly league-average starter in his mid-to-late forties. He had a 97 ERA+ from 2008-10, though that figure did dip each year (118 ERA+ in '08, 85 in '09, 84 in '10). The former Cub, Ranger, Cardinal, Oriole, Red Sock, Mariner and Phillie avoided slaughter with his beer-league softball velocity by avoiding the fat part of the plate. Check out his pitch location since 2008, compared to the league average for lefty starters:

Moyer's pitch location, 2008-10 

Average pitch location for lefty starters, 2008-present

Moyer avoids the center of the strike zone like few others. In fact, he's second only to another extreme soft-tosser when it comes to the lowest percentage of pitches thrown down the horizontal middle of the zone:

Lowest percentage of pitches thrown down horizontal middle of plate, 2008-present

PitcherPct. Of Pitches Thrown Down Middle
Livan Hernandez 15.6%
Jamie Moyer 18.3%
Shaun Marcum 19.8%
Sidney Ponson 20.3%
Mike Mussina 20.3%
Carl Pavano 20.3%
Andy Pettitte 20.3%
Derek Lowe 20.4%
Brian Moehler 20.4%
David Huff 20.4%
MLB Avg. for SP 24.6%

 

It shouldn't come as any surprise that when Moyer does miss down the middle with his BP velocity, he gets thrashed: opponents bopped him for a .544 slugging percentage on middle pitches from 2008-10. Coors is hardly the easiest place for Moyer to one-up Phil Niekro and Jack Quinn old dude win column, but maybe he has a chance if he can keep avoiding hitters' wheelhouse.