A couple weeks ago we took a look at Joel Zumaya’s 2 inning save against Toronto through the eyes of MLB.com’s Enhanced Gameday. Last night against the White Sox Zumaya had an outing on the opposite end of the effectiveness spectrum.
Zumaya basically couldn’t find the strike zone to save his life last night. He through 32 pitches in one inning, and only 11 went for strikes. It resulted in 4 walks and a hit batter. Zumaya thought he was being squeezed.
Enhanced Gameday only captured 26 of Zumaya’s 32 pitches. Plotting them it does appear that Zumaya had a couple of pitches in the strike zone that were called balls. But there are also a ton of balls no where near the strike zone, and in general Joel was leaving the ball up.
Against Toronto, Joel was consistently on the edges of the strike zone. Against the White Sox he was erratic. Enhanced Game Day does allow us to take a look at one aspect of mechanics and that is release point.
While there is overlap in the clusters, it appears that Joel Zumaya was releasing the ball closer to the center of the mound. Now it is hard to say what, if anything this data means. The difference could be in the calibration of the cameras. Or perhaps Zumaya was working from a different part of the rubber Or it could be that his mechanics were altered and he was releasing the ball closer to his head against the White Sox.
In terms of velocity, of the 26 pitches that gameday captured, 23 were fastballs. Of those 23 fastballs only 10 topped 100mph so Zumaya was working a little under the velocity we saw in Toronto. Against the Jays he averaged 100.5 on the gun. Again, this could be a calibration issue, or it could be that Zumaya was never comfortable last night for one reason or another.
This data is still quite new, and I’m still learning to work with it. As we learn more about the data, and it’s limitations and strengths, hopefully we’ll be able to discern more.