With the Chicago Cubs taking a huge volume of strikes last night, and with Jon Lester periodically staring angrily about the edges of the strike zone, it’s worth taking a look this morning at the zone. Was it bad? Was it unfair? Should you remove your torches and/or pitchforks from storage?
To my eyes last night, it looked like Corey Kluber might have been getting a little extra space off the edges of the plate, but he was so consistent and his pitches had so much movement that I wasn’t really all that upset about the calls he was getting. He was just good.
And, for Jon Lester, it looked like he was not getting the close calls, but was also not quite as close to the edges as Kluber was, and also was not quite as consistent.
In other words, watching live, I really didn’t have a huge beef with the strike zone. After a quick review this morning, I’m not sure if I was right for the wrong reasons, or wrong for the right reasons.
First, here are the strike zones called for each team, first against lefties and then against righties (via Brooks Baseball):
On the whole, that’s not a great zone right there. Quite a few missed calls, even if it’s not one of those charts that just jumps out at you as egregiously awful.
Going by the typically called strike zone, I count seven strikes that were called balls against Indians pitchers, and six-ish strikes that were called balls against Cubs pitchers (and the most obvious ones went against the Indians). I count just two balls that were called strikes, and both favored the Cubs. In the aggregate, the Cubs benefited from the calls last night more than the Indians.
The extra edge Kluber was getting? Well, that may have been a camera angle issue, because this pitch tracking indicates it simply didn’t happen. Kluber got strike calls on the edges because he was on the edges. Lester also got some calls on the edges, and didn’t get calls that were just off the edge.
There are certainly inconsistencies in the zone to which you could point, but again, they fall on both sides of the aisle. As I sit here this morning, I can’t say the strike zone unfairly impacted one team over the other last night.
For the most part, Corey Kluber was just awesome.