A look at Matt Harrison's monday start using pitch f/x
First and foremost, this is my first post on the board though I've been reading for a while, so I'd just like to say hello. I was very happy to see there are people out there who care about the Rangers as much as I do.
Now then, since that's over, I was going over all the info from Matt Harrison's last start, Monday against the Orioles. His first 2 innings were rough, to be generous (50 pitches), and after that he seemed to settle down (63 pitches over 5 innings). I read everything everyone suggested as to why he settled down and I thought I'd take a look at the Gameday data to see what it suggested.
The first suggestion, put forth by both Harrison and Mike Maddux, was that he was rushing and leaving pitches up in the zone as a consequence of picking up his tempo. After the second inning, he slowed down and pitches started to go down in the zone.
Now from this graph it doesn't appear that he did any better after the 2nd inning of keeping the ball lower in the zone, but at the same time maybe he got a few bad hits off balls that were left high in the zone early. I haven't looked into that yet but will if you guys want it.
A few people were asking about pitch velocity as the game went on, so I looked into that as well. I plotted only four seam fastball velocity for the time being.
This shows that he kept an average fastball velocity of about 89mph (edit: actually 92mph), but he did absolutely bring it a few times, maxing out at 96. It also shows us that he was able to bring his velocity back up late in the game, even after 100 pitches.
Next, I did a simple graph of pitch selection by inning. I'm a little questioning of some of their classifications; they have Harrison throwing a four seam (FF), two seam (FT), cut fastball (FC) (only 3 of these, I think they are actually changeups), changeups (CH), curves (CU), and sliders (SL).
He never got crazy throwing off speed pitches, even in the middle innings when his fastball lost a little life. He obviously threw more fastballs in innings where he was having trouble, but he also threw more pitches in general. What sticks out to me is that he threw more 2 seam fastballs in the longer innings as well. This bears investigation.
Here's the graph of his pitch movement. Sorry for the trouble with some of the colors, excel doesn't give you great options.
Curves are off on their own, sliders and what Gameday calls "cut fastballs" are grouped together, and then there's that shotgunned area towards the upper right. Those are 4 seam fastballs, 2 seam fastballs, and changeups... and they all move the exact same way. Average 4 seam velocity is 92.0mph, average 2 seam is 84.9, and average change is 83.1. If we assume that those 2 seamers are actually changeups and gameday just can't tell the difference, then the average "changeup" is 84.5mph. Either way, it just looked like a slow fastball with no movement difference.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it looks to me like once he stopped relying on his secondary pitch (2 seam, change, whatever it was), he was able to improve. I'm probably just reading too much into it though.
Sorry for the long first post, and if you read this far, thanks. If you want any more graphs from this game let me know, I'd be happy to help. Pitch f/x is more exciting than my actual job.