Game Story: Sox Support Buch, Drop Halladay and the Jays

Clay Buchholz pitched 6 innings of 6 hit ball, only walking 1 batter and allowing 1 run, while striking out 4. Aside from the innings, that sounds like the kind of outing we'd expect from the opposing starter, one Roy Halladay. Instead, the offense scored 5 runs off one of the best pitchers in baseball, who pitched only 5 innings - maybe he should give up that famed T-shirt.


Final - 8.19.2009 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 6 10 0
Toronto Blue Jays 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 1
WP: Clay Buchholz (2 - 3)
LP: Roy Halladay (13 - 6)

Complete Coverage >


Now, from the stats, it appears Buch managed to outpitch Doc, but let's see how great he really was. A quick Pitch F/X breakdown after the jump.

First off, some quick numbers: Buch threw 94 pitches, 54 for strikes, and 52 of them fastballs (24 changeups, 13 sliders, and 5 curveballs). The fastball averaged 93.36 MPH, and touched 95.2 MPH - pretty good. Now let's see what those pitches actually looked like.

First up, the bird's eye view of his average pitch tracks:

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That's an insane slider; the fastball has some nice tail on it too. We need to look at the side view of these to get the whole picture though.

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Well, I guess that's the curve that all the scouts rave about. The slider and changeup drop from the fastball track pretty far, with the changeup waiting for the last 15 feet to start separating. Of course, it's not all about break - anyone can hit hit a hard curve if they can guess where it's going to end up - that's why we need to look at movement, which tells us how far the ball moved based on spin.

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The slider doesn't move all that much, but that's pretty much how all sliders are. On the other hand, his changeup and curveball both move vertically a LOT. How does Buch compare to the average movement? I'm glad you asked:
Picture1x4_medium

Fastball has more horizontal movement, but slightly less vertical movement. The changeup, like I said above, the changeup's got a lot of vertical movement, doesn't move horizontally much - you can see that in the tracks, as it is more of a straight change. The slider that looked untouchable is really quite average, it seems, with a few moving less horizontally. And then there's that wonderful curveball - 4 inches more movement than most pitchers are capable of. It appears he sacrificed a little horizontal movement, but a 12-6 change can be pretty damn effective (see: Beckett, Josh).

One of Buch's issues last season was control. He's got great stuff, but can he use it effectively?

Location_php_medium

via www.brooksbaseball.net

Not a lot of trends there, other than a lot of fastballs and changeups in the strike zone and a lot of breaking pitches out of it (lost control of two curveballs in the upper left, it looks like). Kinda hard to tell if he's locating well without knowing who we was throwing what to.
Location_php_medium

via www.brooksbaseball.net

Stayed away for the most part, but he wasn't afraid to come up and in on right handed batters. But was he as confident against the opposite handed batters?
Location_php_medium

via www.brooksbaseball.net

Looking good, Buchho. Now, here's something that could be an issue:
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via www.brooksbaseball.net

Most of the fastballs and changes came from more of a over-the-top delivery, while the slider was thrown more like a 3/4 arm slot. Not sure what to make of the curveballs coming from the little cluster - maybe the extended fingers in the grip are holding the ball higher up? Anyways, Buch's breaking stuff could become a little easier to pick up as the game progresses - the batters should start looking for the arm hanging over a little more.

Hopefully this isn't the last in a string of great starts for Buch - he overcame a very big hurdle in facing a series of phenomenal pitchers and matched them inning for inning, for the most part. Maybe he'll become the solid #3 we've been looking for since Wake and Dice-K went down - speaking of them, check out tomorrow's Laundry for some news about when we can expect them back.

Oh, yeah - Papi's looking pretty good, no? Third straight game with a homer, hit another double, etc. Bay and Gonzo also provided some surprise offense - although Bay's hit was really pulled and barely cleared the fence or the foul pole. Hopefully everyone is gearing up for an offensive blaze.
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