In his first career start with the Giants, Randy Johnson looked good. He pitched 5 innings and gave up 4 earned runs while striking out 7 batters. A three-run homer to Gallardo sealed his fate, but otherwise he looked pretty solid. He ended up taking the loss, but don’t let that get you down. Johnson pitched well.
Some PITCHf/x graphs from his start last night:
Johnson’s location looked pretty good. He was around or in the zone with all of his pitches. You can see that his slider location was particularly good. Working the lower half of the zone with the pitch. I’ll note here that PFX tabbed Johnson as throwing several changeups last night, but to my knowledge, Johnson doesn’t actually throw a changeup. It was either a 2-seam fastball or a split-fingered fastball. For simplicity’s sake, I’m calling them split-fingered fastballs for now. There’s been some debate as to if it’s a 2-seam or a split-finger, but they both act in the same fashion for Johnson — as more of a changeup than anything else.
Spin direction — or the direction in which the pitcher spins the ball when he releases a pitch — is a good way to also classify pitches. You can mostly see the groupings of fastball, slider, and what I’m calling his split-finger in this plot. In terms of spin direction, all of his pitches have a similar action on them. There’s a few blips on the plot.
Here’s the classic PFX movement plot. Both axises are in inches. The fastball and split will work itself away from right-handed batters. The slider has more horizontal break — into RHB’s, away from LHB’s — than it does vertical break.
And finally, here’s the velocity averages on RJ’s pitch-types. On the night, his average fastball was clocked at just a hair under 90 mph. His slowest fastball was around 83-84 mph and his fastest fastball was 93 mph. That top fastball velocity indicates that Johnson still has some “reach back” velocity to put on his fastball when he needs it. The slider on average was thrown at 84 mph with a low of 80 mph and a high of 87 mph. The split-finger fastball was thrown at an average of 85mph — about 4 mph slower than his 4-seam fastball.
All in all, a promising start for the Big Unit. There’s a lot to like about how he pitched his first game with the Giants.