Matt Harrison's Turnaround

Adam asks and I answer: A look at Matt Harrison's season through pitch f/x, his first 3.5 starts vs his last 2.5 good starts.

Warning: lots of figures.

So I think we are all fairly curious what has gotten into Matt Harrison lately. His first 3.5 starts, not so great; his last 2.5 starts, pretty darn good. I was just going to do a look at yesterdays (5-8-09) start, but since Adam asked for a broader look, I'll present that data first.

Using pitch f/x I was able to get the data from all of Harrison's games so far and sort it out by pitch type.

First, I'll show you pitch selection by start.



First, please note that start "4" is the first 2 innings of the Baltimore game and start "5" is the last 5 innings where he seemingly turned it around (yes, the graph axis title is wrong). I already looked at that start in another fanpost and couldn't get too much out of it, so for analysis purposes I just want to focus on the first 3 and the last 2. Right away you can see that his last start against Chicago was a lot of fastballs. Harrison had a great fastball yesterday, as I'll show you in a bit. The 2nd thing to notice is that he hasn't thrown his cut fastball in his last 2 starts. Changeup count was a bit high in his first start against Chicago, but then it dropped off for yesterday. He completely changed his pitch selection from a pretty normal fastball/changeup mix the first time against Chicago to just blowing it by them the 2nd time.

Slider count has been fairly regular through all his outings. Curveball count has decreased a little.

Next I'll show a graph of average pitch velocity. This one can be a little tough to read so I included the table of pitch velocities beneath it.



Four seam fastball velocity has gone up pretty steadily over throughout the season, with the average at 93.2mph for his last start. That helps a ton, especially when your offspeed stuff is all below 85 like it was yesterday. His slider velocity was also at its highest point yesterday. Curve and changeup velocity have stayed fairly consistent, and two seam fastball velocity has dropped some.

Here's a look at his pitch movement for yesterday.



His four seamer is showing a pretty broad range of movement, all of it going away from righties but to varying degrees. The graph shows a pitch as FS, a split fastball, which is either something completely new or is his two seamer. It has pretty much the same movement and velocity as the two seamer so that's what I classified it is, but I suppose their is the possibility he's dropped it for a splitter.

You can see that the slider as very little vertical movement difference, but quite a bit of horizontal difference. With it's increased velocity, this is a pretty useful pitch. He only threw five and only one was in play, but it was the double play grounder to end the 6th inning.

Here's his four seam fastball location and result from yesterday.



Harrison was definitely pounding away with his fastball to the righty-heavy lineup yesterday, and even got a few generous calls which make up for the few bad ones in the zone. The point that sticks out to me is that only 3 pitches that were put in play were up in the zone. Harrison did a great job of working down in the zone.

This, on the other hand, is the four seam location and result for his start against KC on the 17th of April



Lots of stuff in the middle of the zone and most of it is high. That is not where you want to be with an 89.6mph fastball like he had that day.

So that's all I've got for right now. AJM, I know you said you wanted to look at specific pitch locations aside from just fastball, before and after, but I think that may need to be trimmed down. The sheer number of data points make the graph extremely hard to read. I'm also planning on looking at what pitches he's giving up hits on what he's getting outs on to see if there's a trend. I'll get that up when I can.



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