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Entries in Jered Weaver (10)

Tuesday
May032011

Dustin Pedroia's Excellent At Bat

In the bottom of the fifth inning Monday night, Dustin Pedroia (BOS) battled Jered Weaver (LAA) for 13 pitches, the batter eventually delivering a two-RBI single that resulted in the Red Sox taking the lead.  The following chart shows the pitches of the at bat overlayed on Dustin's hot zones since the start of the 2008 season:

Dustin Pedroia vs. Jered Weaver, May 2, 2011, bottom of the fifth inning.From the batter's point of view, this sequence shows Dustin's superb strike zone judgement.  He only swung at two pitches out of the strike zone (6 and 12), and they were both probably too close to take with two strikes and Weaver on the mound.  Dustin did not swing and miss in the sequence, nor did he take a strike.  Each swing resulted in a foul ball or ball in play.  In Moneyball terms, Pedroia's process was very good.

From the pitcher's point of view, Weaver mixed his pitches well in every dimension.  He used four different pitches during the sequence, four fastballs, three changeups, three sliders, and three cutters.  Three times he threw the same pitch on consecutive throws, but on almost every toss he changed location, up, down in and out.  Until the last three pitches, there was always something different about the previous pitch.

The last three pitches, however, is what did in Weaver.  Pitches 11 and 12 were classified as cutters and pitch 13 as a fastball, but the three had all about the same speed, spin and movement.  Pedroia basically saw the same pitch three times in a row for the first time during the at bat.  Note, too, that pitch 13 was higher on the corner than the other two, and that's right on the edge of a hot zone for Dustin.  Pedroia had the pitch timed, Weaver put it in a good location, and the single on pitch 13 turned the game around.  It was a classic battle between a fine pitcher and a fine hitter.

Thursday
Apr212011

Weaver Stikes Out Cruz

Watching Jered Weaver (LAA) battle Nelson Cruz (TEX) in the second inning Wednesday night, it stuck me that the plate appearance was a classic battle between a good hitter and a great pitcher.  Here is a graphic representation of the pitch sequence:

Jered Weaver strikes out Nelson Cruz, 4/20/2011.The diagram on the left shows the location of the pitches in the strike zone.  On the right the break of the pitch, how much it deviates from a straight line.  Weaver threw five straight fastballs to Curz.  The first three tried to get Nelson to go fishing outside the strike zone.  Jered started him with a pitch in the dirt, then tempted him outside.  Cruz did not buy the pitches, and put himself in an excellent position for the rest of the at bat, up 3-0 in the count.

Cruz knew he would get a strike on 3-0, and Weaver put the pitch up and in, and Cruz swung through it.  Weaver then took five miles off his fastball, dropping it from 90 to 85, and got another swinging strike.

Jered had now shown Cruz five straight fastballs. He had changed location and speed, but each exhibited the same break.  Weaver, if you will, had trained Cruz to follow the ball a certain way.  As I watched the final pitch, Weaver gave him the fastball motion, but snapped his wrist as he released the ball.  It was clear from the centerfield camera that the pitch was going to do something different.  You can see the difference in the break above, but it also was different in another dimension:

Jered Weaver strikes out Nelson Cruz, break and velocity.The last pitch came in at 79 MPH, taking a totally different patch to the same spot as the fifth pitch.  Cruz swung and missed, and Jered made a comeback from a poor start to another strikeout.

The pitch was classified as a slider, and Jered's slider has been his best K pitch this season.  He gets a 32.4% strikeout rate with his slider, the highest of any of his pitches.  He's struck out more batters with his fastball (15 to 13), but he used the fastball to end more PA 63 to 38 for slider.  He doesn't throw it as often, but when it comes after a number of fastballs, it's a very effective pitch.

Monday
Apr112011

InDepth Recap: Jered Weaver's 15K Day

Jered Weaver set a career high yesterday by striking out 15 batters in 7 2/3 innings.  Here's where he was putting his pitches versus the Jays:

Jered Weaver vs. Toronto Blue Jays (4/10/11)
(Click to enlarge)

It helped that Jered only had to face 6 left-handed batters all game.  He was able to hit that outside edge against them and yielded one hit, an infield single to Travis Snider.  

Coming into the game, batters made contact on 76.2 percent of Weaver's pitches.  Yesterday, the Blue Jays only made contact on 51.9 percent.  He had them off balance all game, recording 6 strike outs on fastballs, 6 on sliders, 2 on curveballs, and 1 on a changeup. 

Weaver's off-speed pitches were filthy yesteday.  Jays' hitters posted a miniscule 20.0 percent contact rate on the 35 sliders thrown by Jered, compared to the 71.2 percent contact rate batters have produced on his slider since 2008. 

PitchFX data indicates that since 2008, Weaver's slider tends to cross the plate with 16.8 feet per second of downward velocity.  Yesterday, it averaged 17.4 ft/s of downward movement.  He also had a BrkZ average of .9 on his slider entering the game.  Against the Jays yesterday it came in at -.4.  He was simply getting much more movement on the pitch, resulting in a lot of whiffs from opposing batters.