Just watch 1 Lance Lynn start, and you’ll notice that everything works off his four-seam fastball. That’s the one that he threw 65 times last night for 38 strikes which translates to about a 58.46% strike rate. Considering the fact that Lynn only threw 91 pitches, you might wonder why the Diamondbacks weren’t looking for that fastball. After all, it wasn’t like he was throwing 99 mph heat all night. His average four-seam fastball clocked in around 92.5 mph, and he peaked at 94.6.
Maybe they were looking for it. After all, his four-seam fastball only produced 4 whiffs all night. The problem for the Diamondbacks was that they simply had trouble “squaring up the pitch” as the saying goes. To understand why, I think it worth a glance at the movement plot created from the Pitch FX data from BrooksBaseball.net.
Focus on the green squares plotted on the chart. At one extreme, there are a couple of 92+ mph fastballs that barely moved from the center of the plate. If those pitches aren’t too high or too low, most MLB hitters can handle a 92 mph fastball. However, the rest of the four-seam fastballs moved substantially more, and at the other extreme you can see that some pitches in excess of 92 mph moved as much as 11-12 inches. Since that direction is on the negative side of center, that indicates movement toward right-handed hitters and away from left-handed hitters. Good stuff.
If there are any negatives to take away from the game pitched by Lynn, they are most likely tied to inefficiency related to being around the strike zone but dabbling at the edges. Due in large part to accumulating 7 strikeouts and 4 walks, Lynn’s pitch count quickly headed in the direction of triple digits at the end of just 5 innings. With the offense clicking like it did tonight, that was enough to provide the bullpen with a substantial cushion, but it would be great to see Lynn get just a little deeper into games. That may be especially true on a night when the Cardinals are starting a series against a tough opponent in the middle of a lengthy roadtrip.
Perhaps just one more inning might have saved the bullpen a bit, but Matheny was instead put in a position to use JC Romero, Fernando Salas, Victor Marte, Marc Rzepczynski, and Jason Motte in order to finish the game. On a lot of nights there is nothing wrong with that, but it would be a huge bonus to cut the number of relievers used down just a bit. Then again, this is simply nitpicking, because it’s hard to find anything bad to say about a guy who is 6-0 with 1.40 ERA and a .85 WHIP.
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TIDIBT: Interesting to note that one of the similar pitcher to Lynn as determined by BrooksBaseball.net is Zach Greinke. Not a bad comparable for Lynn at age 24.