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Anatomy of an Astros No-Hitter: Fiers vs. Rollins

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Let's take a look at how well Mike Fiers sequenced his pitches in the at-bat against Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In the next installment of breaking down Mike Fiers match-ups during his no-hitter will be the ninth inning face off with Jimmy Rollins.

In the first installment we saw Mike Fiers attempt some aspects of Effective Velocity (EV) but struggled with control as he approached season highs in pitch counts. He utilized pitch tunneling as well. He also went with traditional pitch selection in throwing what they don't expect.

Note: This series of articles is not to look for examples of EV or tunneling but to analyze pitch sequencing philosophy.

I asked the other writers for feedback on the last article and I received a request for a diagram of how the velocities change. This was is from the link that I had in the first article but will post it here. I will reference the strike zone as a key pad from a phone, numbers 1-9. This will be from the pitcher's viewpoint. You would reverse this diagram for a left-handed hitter as this is how it's perceived for a right-handed hitter.

Effective Velocity

In this particular article, we are discussing a left-handed hitter. So, you have to flip this diagram. A plot of the at-bat can be found at the bottom of the page.

Pitch: 1 (0-0)

First pitch is a fastball that is high and outside. For a right-handed hitter, it would be +4 but for a lefty, it's plus zero. That makes the 89 MPH fastball, perceived at 89 MPH.

From here, high and inside or low and away with a fastball could create a change of three MPH. A curve would take advantage of EV and for tunneling. Low off-speed would also do the trick. A high and inside cutter would probably be dangerous as it would come within 3 MPH change from the first pitch.

Pitch: 2 (1-0)

Another high fastball. This was borderline in the 2 or 3 zone making the pitch either neutral or +1. Either way, the perceived velocity was within 3 MPH difference. The pitch was close and Jimmy Rollins took making the outcome okay. However, that was a dangerous pitch. Given it's the second pitch of the ninth, he probably wanted a strike to avoid a 2-0 count.

Options are all the same as with the previous pitch.

Pitch: 3 (1-1)

Here's the curve! Took advantage of EV and tunneling. Issue was it was just a bit outside of the 9 zone. No strike zone. No strike. Definitely a good selection though. At 72 MPH and losing an additional 2 MPH gives a huge change in velocity and a candidate for soft contact or a whiff.

From here anything is in play as the separation would still be fine no matter location for the changeup and cutter, not to mention the fastball. A high fastball would take the tunneling effect as well. Another curve is unlikely since you're not going to throw a high curve.

Pitch: 4 (2-1)

A changeup at the extended six position at 84 MPH. That makes it 82 MPH perceived velocity and still with good change in velocity. The location and delta velocity created a whiff from Rollins, making this a successful pitch.

From here, Fiers can throw the fastball anywhere. The curve in any normal spot. The cutter in the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 positions.  The change would have to be on the extended 1, 4, 7 zones.

Pitch: 5 (2-2)

There's the curve again! Still uses the tunnel because Rollins has seen both pitches from the tunnel. And at 73 MPH in the 8 zone, it's perceived at 72 MPH. Thats a delta velocity of 10 MPH and very good for soft contact. Since Rollins fouled it off, that's exactly what happened.

From here, he can again do just about anything, except another curve.

Pitch: 6 (2-2)

Fastball just above the 2 zone at 90 MPH making it perceived at 92 MPH. That's a delta of 20 MPH. Statistically a good bet. Also, same tunnel as previous pitch. Although, Jimmy Rollins took this one to the warning track on a high fly-ball to right-center field. The ball traveled far but the exit velocity would tell us how truly hard hit it was. Luckily it stayed in the park for an out.

fiers vs rollins

courtesy for BrooksBaseball.net