Nationals Baseball: Tanner

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


First off - we have to ask is there really something wrong with Tanner? Up until his 2nd start in June I would have said probably not. His ERA of 3.95 was a little higher than you'd like but with an opponents OPS of .663, 7.4 K/9, 2.83 BB/9 were all in line with what you'd expect. His H/9 was up (8.3) but not too far off his 2014 number. You could see how the combination of all this would lead to a slightly disappointing season but since he had been a pleasant surprise skirting the Top 20 of starters in 2014 & 2016 that would be ok.

The past three games, though, have been a different story. 26 hits in under 14 innings, 9 strikeouts (eh), 6 walks (not good), 4 homers (bad).  Something is up.

Now of course when things look bad it's usually in part out of their hands and a .431 BABIP suggests a few more balls finding holes than normally.  But still over the course of 14 innings that's a few hits - certainly not enough to go from "pretty good" to "god awful".  Looking at the game by game stats one telling thing is the lack of softly hit balls the past few games, and for the season in general.  If you look at this game by game you are bound to see a lot of bouncing around, but since the beginning of May Tanner hasn't gotten more than 15.4% softly hit balls in any game.  That's important because you want his soft hit rate to be over 20%. Hard to get the average over 20% when your peak isn't over 16%.

Now what you might expect from here is some sort of pitch failure. Either a pitch is becoming more hittable (check FB speed) or that there's been a negative change to the pitch selection (check percentages of each type of pitch). Well I looked at these for the past few games and there really isn't anything I see. If we take April to be fairly normal - he did see a drop in FB speed at the beginning of May but he's back up to speed maybe even faster. That could mean a bit of overthrowing but it doesn't explain the lack of soft hits in May. Maaaaybe he's throwing his curve a bit less but that's a stretch to say based on this info in my opinion.

We can look at location (a little bit).  I don't really see much of anything here.  I can tell you he's getting more contact in the zone, fewer swings and misses, but that's really just in the past 3 games not since May. So it's not like he's missing the zone a lot - but that's to be expected from the K/9 and BB/9 numbers.

So what this would tell me at this point is that Tanner has one of two issues (well maybe three)

1) Something to do with the movement of his pitches.  His fastball and change are being hit when they are usually his plus pitches. So I'd look there first. Of course even if we pick up on something here I can't tell you what it means. Some suggested an issue with run back fastballs. I can't figure out what are runbacks or not just from the averages over a game. That's more of a game film type of analysis. Just in general I'd guess more movement is better but too much movement is probably bad too. You're looking for a sweet spot. Of course for each pitcher there are different sweet spots and probably several combinations that work... This is why teams have pitching coaches and not bloggers

2) Something to do with the sequence of his pitches. This is a little more able to be picked up with stats. I'm not going to do it now but I suppose you could see if he's putting together too many fastballs in a row or always following a slider on 2-0 with a change or something like that.

3) I suppose - he could be tipping his pitches in some way.

The good news is that it's not an obvious problem that suggests injury, like loss of FB speed. The bad news is that it's not an obvious problem that suggests injury. Tanner is getting hit harder than he has been in the past. He has been since the start of May and things are not getting better. It doesn't seem like just a slump. What we could surmise from here is something made his FB velocity drop - he got hit hard. To compensate he's tried to ramp it back up and perhaps he's overthrowing - he gets hit hard. But I kind of doubt that's all of it. Let's hope the professionals can figure out what's wrong


1natsfan said...

Last year it was thought that Tanner was tipping his pitches against the Marlins Could he be doing it again?

Fries said...

I checked out his pitchf/x a while back (not within the last 3 starts though) and one thing that I noticed then was that he was slightly grooving his pitches. He throws balls when he needs to and strikes when he needs to, the issue was that the balls are a little too obviously balls and the strikes are a little to obviously strikes. Not working the sides of the plate well enough at all compared to previous years, especially inside to lefties. That could very well be a movement issue, who knows.

Like I said, though, this doesn't include his last 3 starts so this could be something completely different now

Jay said...

I watched the game the other night. I can tell his location was off. He struggled at the edges of the plate, which is what I guess could be what Fries is alluding to. He walked two guys prior to hanging the change up and giving up the grand slam. He looked a little tired to me as well. His lower half more so. Anyway, hopefully he can figure it out. We need him to at least be pretty good.

JE34 said...

Sloppy D looms large again... dropped 3rd out at first base in the 8th inning, then wheels fall off.

PotomacFan said...

Off topic: The difference between Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw is Kenley Jansen. No way Scherzer should have gone to 120 pitches today. But Dusty is afraid (for very good reasons) to use the bullpen.

Sammy Kent said...

Yesterday's game made me want to vomit. I was keeping up with the game as best I could during work and kept telling my colleague we need more runs. You can't beat the blankety blank blank Marlins scoring only one run, I don't care who's on the mound. When I got home and watched the DVR of the eighth inning it made me even sicker and mad as all gitout. Trea muffed a routine throw to first, which Lind still should have come up with for the third out. Then Dusty winds up in a no-win situation when the bases are loaded and Giancarlo Stanton comes up. What would YOU do? What would I do? Let a worn out Max Sherzer pitch to him or bring in Blake Trienen who you know will either strike him out or give up a dinger? 50/50 shot. If we had anyone reliable in the bullpen Dusty would have taken Max out when he hit Dee Gordan.

Then Ryan Raburn inexplicably hit the brakes while coming in for Stanton's line drive and it hit in front of him. What pisses me off is when he said after the game "I just couldn't get to it." Bull ****! He could have gotten to it, but he froze. He might have had to dive for it, but it was a play major leagues make all the time. Heck, church league softball players make that play all the time. It really wasn't that hard. His brain locked into the wrong decision, which was don't let it past you to go to the wall. Unfortunately that decision guarantees the go-ahead run scores. At that point, it doesn't matter. You either catch it, or it goes to the wall, but YOU CAN'T LET THE BALL DROP IN FRONT OF YOU. YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT LET THE BALL DROP IN FRONT OF YOU!!! YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE CATCH. YOU HAVE TO GO ALL OUT TO MAKE THE CATCH. And he didn't do it.

Have I ever mentioned that I absolutely hate the blankety blankety blank blank blanking blankety blanking Marlins?

G Cracka X said...

@Sammy Kent Which team do you dislike more, the Marlins or the Orioles?

Josh Higham said...

For once I am very sympathetic to Sammy in his ranting. Very hard game to stomach.

Related, since Kornheiser is recording his podcast only sporadically for the summer, I was listening to an archived episode, chosen more or less at random. March 22 of this year.

Richard Justice was absolutely raving about the arms Rizzo had brought in, saying it was most likely a nonissue that the Nats had no closer. Just a reminder that Rizzo did a good job this offseason.

Max David said...

I was working most of the day yesterday, happened to catch the 7th & 8th innings (barf!) at Buffalo Wild Wings with a late lunch. My problems with the 8th innings:

1) Why isn't Taylor inserted into the game as a defensive replacement in the 8th inning? They have the day off Thursday anyways, so Taylor will get a full day off then, does he really need a full day off Wednesday too?
2) A.J. Ellis dropped comebacker that hit off Scherzer's glove. Turner panicked for no reason as Ellis cannot run, he didn't have to barehand it, if he chargers, picks it up with his glove, and sets himself he'll probably still retire Ellis at first.
3) The next batter whoever it was (Riddle maybe?) that hit the grounder to second. I know Drew had to range a bit to his right, but I still think he could've attempted to get the double play and force Urena, the pinch runner at second. Urena, is a pitcher and not the fastest player on the Marlins (as evidenced later in the inning). Even if you don't get the double play, if you get the force at 2nd it sets up an easier play for Turner on the next play.
4) J.T. Realmuto's grounder. No excuse for either Turner or Lind: Sure, Turner could've made a better throw, but that's a play that a major league first basemen HAS TO make. But if Drew gets the force at second the previous batter, all Turner has to do is flip to Drew at second and end the inning. Then the wheels fell off the bus.
5) Gordon's hit by pitch. If Rizzo has any competent relief pitchers you gotta take Scherzer out here
6) The Wild pitch which tied the game. I think F.P. said it on the telecast: If this is the Dodgers, Kershaw is out of the game there because they have Jansen, but with how pathetic this bullpen is, a Scherzer at 117 pitches and clearly gassed is the best alternative.
7) @SammyKent summed this up perfectly: it's a 1-1 game make a ^&*^ing effort to get it!!!!!!! And bull$#!t that he couldn't get it! He froze up, and for whatever the reason (forgot the number of outs, forgot the score, etc) stopped and played it on a hop. Maybe he thought there was only 1 out and could force the runner out at home?? Maybe he thought the score was still 1-0 and didn't want to risk the ball getting by?? But for whatever the case, he has got to make that catch, or at the least make an attempt to make the catch because in that situation (1-1 game, 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs) whether you stop and play it on a hop, or miss the ball on a dive, at least 1 run is scoring anyways.

Dumb plays all around in that 8th inning. Like reading about a plane crash. Generally, there's not 1 main reason it crashed (or lost in this case) but a chain of 5 or 10 events that lead to it, and if even one of those 10 events didn't happen, chances are likely the plane doesn't crash. Like the same with this game: There's not 1 main reason the Nats lost this game, but if 1 of my 7 events above that took place in the 8th inning plays out differently, they maybe looking at a series win instead of a series loss this afternoon. Of course, our bullpen would still have to pitch the 9th inning anyways...

Max David said...

Also I to mention this on the Wild pitch: Urena is definitely out on that play if Loboton can make a good throw to Scherzer at the plate, but the Lobes throw was high, and Urena was able to sneak in under the tag as Scherzer had to go high to nab the throw.

Ole PBN said...

Bad outfielders/little leaguers first step is always "back." This is what Rayburn did. A true pro's first step is where the ball will land. It's called running a good route. Sounds like he's still listening to the helper dad/coach in the short shorts with the high socks from the dugout. "Coach Neidermeyer always said my first step is "back"....

BxJaycobb said...

At some point dusty is going to need to make the decision to cap the starters at 105-110 pitches, come what may, and sacrifice a couple regular season games to ensure that these guys aren't either injured or gassed in October. We're going to win the division. It's not a question. and just as important, even if it seems at the time that you're better off keeping the starter in at 115 pitches than bringing in a mediocre reliever, you're not. It only seems that way because you have "max scherzer" in your mind, not "exhausted 115 pitch max scherzer that the Marlins have seen 3 times already"....who really is not any better than matt Albers statistically. This happened with strasburg earlier in the year too. You cannot manage each of these games like the year is on the line. It's simply not. And these guys are not going to be pitching like they are capable of pitching in October if they are ROUTINELY throwing pitches seeing red in April may and June.

G Cracka X said...

@BxJaycobb agree with pitching caps. Especially since we have four starters ranked in the Top 50:

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper: One thing on Tanner that I made a note of early in the season----if one Nats pitcher was going to have a clear negative impact from pitching to notorious horrendous pitch framer Matt Wieters, it was going to be Tanner, who doesn't get tons of swings and misses and depends on command around the corners. And indeed....CHECK IT OUT! The Nats rank near the bottom in getting a really bad strike zone for their pitchers (see the table in the following link where the Nats have -88). So I wonder how much that has hurt tanner:

Sammy Kent said...

@G Cracka X

The Orioles are the worst. By a lot. The Marlins are easily my second most hated team. I just have more occasions each year to vent on the blankety blank Marlins.