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Entries in Philip Humber (2)


Putting the First Inning First

We have been frequently told that you need to get to good pitchers early.

We've also been told how important it is to get off to a good start.

When you follow baseball, you get told a lot of things.

So I decided to I'd a little investigating by putting the 1st inning first.

Mike Minor of Atlanta is our major winner in this category. Minor has faced 15 batters in five 1st inning starts.

A.J. Griffin, Derek Holland, and Homer Bailey have each faced just 16 in five starts.

The two pitchers who have faced the most 1st inning batters this season are Bud Norris and Stephen Strasburg, with 33 each. They've each had six starts, but right behind them is Philip Humber who has faced 32 batters in five starts.

Obviously, Minor has a perfect .000 batting average against, but then again so does Wily Peralta whose faced 18 batters in five starts without giving up a hit.

Humber has been ugly in the 1st with batters hitting a whopping .552 against him.

Wade LeBlanc has been hit at a .536 pace, and it may surprise you to find out that batters are hitting Hiroki Kuroda at a .500 pace in the 1st.

In six games, Bud Norris has thrown 145 pitches in the 1st inning (24.1 ppi). Juan Nicasio and Edwin Jackson have each tossed 126 pitches in five 1st innings (25.2 ppi).

On the good side are Carlos Villanueva (57 pitches), A.J. Griffin (59), Clay Buchholz (60), and Mike Minor (61).

Minor and Peralta have allowed no 1st inning hits and Griffin, Derek Holland, Jason Vargas, Marcos Estrada, and Roberto Hernandez have allowed just one hit each.

Humber has amazingly allowed 16 hits, Wade LeBlanc has permitted 15, Kuroda has permitted 12 hits, and Strasburg, Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, and Jeff Francis have allowed 11 hits each.

While there are many pitchers who have not yet permitted a 1st inning homer, it should be noted that in six games CC Sabathia has allowed three, and in five games, Jason Marquis has also allowed three.

Felix Hernandez has struck out 11 batters in six 1st innings.

Jon Neise has struck out none in six starts and Miguel Gonzalez none in five.

Bud Norris has issued seven walks in six starts and Edwin Jackson has issued six walks in five starts.

Contemplating all this data, I would say that undoubtedly Mike Minor is baseball's best 1st inning pitcher so far this season, retiring all the batters he's faced.

And, Phillip Humber so far is baseball's worst allowing 14 runs (all earned) giving him an ERA of 29.08 and a WHIP of 4.385.


Picture Perfect Phil: Humber throws the 21st ever

On April 21st, Philip Humber was dominant in Seattle on the way to posting the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Humber was extremely efficient in his dispatching of the 27 Mariners he faced, needing only 96 pitches to complete the feat. On top of the low pitch count, Humber managed to accumulate nine strikeouts; his use of all of his major pitches while commanding the strike zone was masterful. In his post game interview, Humber showed humility, giving credit to AJ Pierzinski and his defense for getting him to that point. In this column, we'll look at how Humber mixed up his pitches en route to his perfecto.

What might be most amazing about Humber's start was his ability to live in the upper two thirds of the strike zone and still be effective; over 70% of Humber's pitches were at or above the horizontal middle of the zone. Below is a breakdown of Humber's pitch location throughout the game.

Humber's Perfect GameOver the first three innings, Humber set down the first nine by focusing mainly on his fastball and curve, using those eighty percent of the time. He threw only 37 pitches while notching four strikeouts, all swinging, three on curves and one on a changeup. By using his off speed pitched effectively early, he was able to set the Seattle hitters off balance. All other outs were contained within the infield, which can be seen below.

Humber's pitch location and outs through the first three innings

 The next time through the line up, Humber featured his slider 31.6% of the time, 5% more than the fastball or the curveball. This stretch was key to his success, as he needed only 20 pitches to retire the nine batters he faced. This allowed him to stay strong all the way to the end of the game. As can be seen below, worry may have arose as Humber gave up seven outs in the air, though only one were hit particularly hard but directly at the right fielder.

Humber's Pitch Location and outs the second time through the lineup

Humber's Pitch Location and outs in the final three innings

Through the final three innings, Humber labored the most, throwing 39 pitches while racking up four strikeouts. He focused specifically on spotting his fastball, throwing it 41% of the time, thirteen percent more than the slider and the curveball. The first batter of the ninth watched the first three pitches for the first three ball count of Humber's night, but he battled back to get the strikeout on a slider. The second batter of the ninth inning flew out to right field and Humber was one out away from his date with destiny. After battling to a 3-2 count, Humber went to the slider down and away, catching Brendan Ryan on a check swing called out by the home plate umpire. Pierzinski had to block the pitch and throw down to first to close the deal, but Ryan was so convinced he had walked there was no effort to run to first. 

After the game, Humber was mobbed by his teams and drenched in the typical ice bath of success. A Perfect Game: not too bad for a guy with 30 career starts.