Junichi Tazawa Versus Mark Trumbo

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When the Boston Red Sox were attempting to avoid a sweep at the hands of their division rival, the Baltimore Orioles, they turned to an old standby, but perhaps an odd choice given the matchup. Ian York breaks down the Junichi Tazawa versus Mark Trumbo at-bat, pitch-by-pitch using PITCHf/x.

Junichi Tazawa mainly throws fastballs, with some splitters mixed in.  He doesn’t usually throw many sliders or curves; less than 20% of his pitches are breaking pitches, according to BrooksBaseball.  

Mark Trumbo, on the other hand, likes to hit fastballs. Pitchers tend to throw him a lot of breaking pitches.

With one out in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game, it seemed like a slightly odd choice to bring in Tazawa to pitch to Trumbo, but Taz attacked him with almost all breaking stuff and won the battle on the seventh pitch one curve, one fastball, and five sliders.

(In this chart, which is from the umpire’s viewpoint, the right-handed Trumbo would be standing to the left.)

The first pitch was a slow curve near the middle of the strike zone, which Trumbo fouled off.  Tazawa then threw a faster breaking pitch, a slider in a similar location but a little more outside. Trumbo swung and missed.  Taz tried moving still further outside with another slider, but Trumbo wasn’t fooled and took it for ball 1.  

The fourth and fifth pitches were both sliders, at the bottom of the strike zone, that Trumbo fouled off.

At this point, Tazawa shook off a couple of signs from catcher Ryan Hanigan, and eventually Hanigan trotted out for a quick discussion.  Ahead in the count (1-2), and perhaps feeling that Trumbo was getting the slider timing down, Tazawa showed Trumbo what the fastball looked like, with a 93.9-mph pitch well outside the strike zone and high.  Finally, the fifth slider of the at-bat, once again located in the bottom third of the zone, got Trumbo on a straightforward fly ball to center field.

Tazawa showed very good location in this at bat, and he, and Hanigan, did a fine job of keeping the dangerous Trumbo off balance. Tazawa relies on his exceptional command to be effective, and it was was on display here. Even the pitches outside the zone were probably placed there intentionally with a strategic purpose.  

Ian York uses the PITCHf/x to monitor the strike zone, highlights great performances, monitors league-wide trends and tracks the performances of some interesting young hitters.

Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork.

All data compiled from PITCHfx and Baseball-Reference.com.

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