When I started posting these Pitch f/x breakdowns three weeks ago, I received lots and lots of requests for a Mariano Rivera post. I wanted to have enough of a data sample from this year to look at, so I held off for a few weeks until Mo threw his 100th pitch of the season, which he did Friday night. Now, finally, we can take a look at The Sandman.
We all know that the cutter is Mo’s bread and butter, and that’s not an understatement at all. Of the 127 pitches he’s thrown this year, 117 were cutters, or 92.1%. Nine other pitches were four-seam fastballs, and there was one two-seamer mixed in for good measure. Mo has no need for an offspeed pitch. Let’s take a look at how the pitches actually move. Remember to click for a larger view.
Eh, I was hoping the bird’s eye view would show the cutter cutting, but it’s not so obvious. The axes are in feet, and you can kinda see the cutter starting to buzz in on lefties ever so slightly around the 15-20 foot mark. Here’s the first base view:
Not much to see here. The cutter and four-seamer stay on a similar plane, and the lone two-seamer sank pretty dramatically. Now, the catcher’s view:
You can get a little better look at the cutting action on the cutter here, but it’s still tough to see. Such is the life of a two-dimensional object. The cool part is the armside run on Mo’s four-seamer, which gives him a fastball that moves in either direction. Here’s the movement on his pitches:
Essentially this graph shows how much each pitch deviates from a straight line. Unlike the others, the axes in this graph are in inches, not feet. Read this for a better explanation on how to read the pitch movements. Mo’s cutter typically features between one and four inches of horizontal break, but it could be as much as six inches. It’s not the raw amount of movement that makes the pitch effective, it’s that the movement takes place late in it’s travel to the plate.
Mo’s a robot. He repeats the same delivery he’s had since 1995 like clockwork, so I figured I’d take a look at his release points:
I’m kind of surprised. I figured Mo would release all of his pitches from like, a three-inch wide by two-inch tall box, but I guess not. He’s released his pitches this year from a 15-16 inch wide by 12-inch tall box, which is still impressive. I guess Mo’s human after al … sorry, almost got carried away there.
One last thing I wanted to look at was how many calls go Mo’s way. Established veterans and surefire Hall of Famers get calls normal pitchers don’t, so here’s a look at the called strikes and balls that Rivera’s thrown this year:
Heh, he gets a 24-inch plate, not a 17-incher like mere mortals. I also highlighted the pitch Jason Bay hit out on Friday night, and you can see it was in a bad spot: belt high right over the plate. One of Mo’s few mistakes.
Next stop on the Pitch f/x express: Phil Hughes’ season debut on Tuesday.