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Hunter Strickland: How to Break a Game Open

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Hunter Strickland was real Hunter Stricklandy last night

Dilip Vishwanat

Hunter Strickland's 1-2 pitch to Sal Perez last night turned a 3-2 game into a 5-2 game. Then two pitches later an Omar Infante long-dong turned a 5-2 game into a 7-2 game. The game was basically over after the Perez double as it was worth .098 WPA and boosted the Royals WE by nearly 10% from 83.2% to 93%. If that didn't put a dagger all the way through the heart of the Giants, then Infante's two run home run did.

That plot isn't even factoring in the actual Royals bullpen so it's pretty easy to add on another three or four percentage points to the WE% if you know that the Cerberus of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland is about to be unleashed.

Back to Hunter Strickland though, he was bad. He only faced two batters but was only two total bases shy of allowing the maximum number of total bases one can allow to two batters. Strickland can throw fire basically as well as Yordano Ventura can throw fire, he has an average FB velocity of 97 MPH, but last night the Royals *insert fire pun here*.

Here's the Perez at bat:

If you can believe it, Perez laid off of a pitch, two of them in fact.

Here are all the pitches Perez has swung at, regardless of the outcome, when he was down 0-2 this year.

Perez 0-2

He's very democratic when it comes to swinging at 0-2 pitches, swinging at rougly 40% of them regardless of their location.

Now here's the pitch, using the same heatmap as above, that Perez laid off of:

Perez Ball

Not even plotted in the zone. Perez swings a lot, but you've generally got to do better than the above pitch. For instance he swung at this pitch in Game 1 and even still made contact with it.

Perez gm1

So on 1-2, a count that Perez hits just .216/.216/.304 in his career in, Strickland threw Perez this pitch:

In that zone, zone 6, Perez put the ball in play 59% of the time in 2014 with the ball going for a hit about 45% of the time. This is where pitchers normally pitch Salvador in a 1-2 count

Down and away. How does Perez do on 1-2 counts down and away?

Not too good.

How does he do in zone 6 on a 1-2 count? Pretty good. Strickland threw Perez a 98 MPH fastball inside and Perez promptly put it in the left center gap.

Perez Double

Strickland didn't miss his spot by much, but Posey wanted it a little lower. Instead it was a thigh high fastball in Perez's fun zone.

Next up came the Infante back breaker. First, let's look at where Infante has hit his home runs this year

Infante HR Heat

How abut all his home runs since 2007:

Infante career

Looks like Infante likes the ball on the inner half of the plate.

Now, where do those home runs get deposited?

So, inner half of the plate and he sends them over the left field wall usually. Do you get where I'm going with this?

Here's the home run location from last night and where it landed:

Not sure if Infante could have planned it better himself.

Strickland hasn't been cheated on home runs this post season either.

All of them fastballs. All of them inside the zone in spots hitters generally hit pretty well. All of them hit a very, very long way.