In Scott Baker’s start last night, he gave up three walks and five hits resulting in four runs in just 4 2/3 innings, leading to the Twins 6-3 loss. Below are three quick thoughts using pitch f/x data on why Baker struggled against the Angels:
1. He was Dependant on Fastballs
Baker depended heavily upon the fastball last night, throwing his four-seam 40.2% of the time and two-seam 30.5% of the time (based upon the 82 tracked pitches out of 92 total). In 2009, fastballs represented 61.3% of total pitches thrown; last night that number was up to 70.7%. You could argue that since Baker doesn’t have an over-powering fastball (the average velocity last night was 91.1 mph for the four-seam and 90.9 for the two-seam), he should have thrown more off-speed pitches in order to keep the Angels hitters guessing more often.
2. The Two-Seam Fastball Wasn’t Working
What’s surprising about the amount of fastballs thrown last night is that: 1) He threw significantly more two-seamers than his average in 2009; and 2) He threw a lot of two-seamers despite it not working very well for him.
In 2009, on average, 4.0% of all pitches Baker threw were two-seamers. Last night’s mark of 30.5% of pitches being classified as two-seamers means that either Baker didn’t trust his others pitches last night, or Pitch f/x was not classifying his pitches correctly in the past.
Additionally, of the 25 two-seamers Baker threw, only 9 were for strikes (36.0%). As you can see in the graph to the right, many of those he missed with were well out of the strike zone.
Since the horizontal and vertical movement on his two-seamer last night was very similar to his 2009 averages, it’s likely that Baker struggled with the pitch directly out of his hand. The home run he surrendered in the 2nd inning to Jeff Mathis was a two-seamer that he left over the middle of the plate.
3. He Didn’t Miss Many Bats
Of the 82 tracked pitches Baker threw last night, only five (6.1%) were swinging strikes. Last year batters whiffed on 10.2% of Baker’s pitches. More swinging strikes shows that Baker’s pitches are fooling hitters and can create more strikeouts.
In summary, I think that last night was an aberration for Baker and is not likely a cause for worry. It looked like he was trying to overthrow pitches in the first inning as he may have been nervous in his first opening day start. I’d expect a much more calm and controlled Scott Baker in his next start.
Other Twins Related Articles to Read Today: