FOX Sports MLB Analyst
Back in March, I coined the term Co-No to rate the combined no-hitter. I figured he needed a memorable name to counteract the disrespect he usually gets compared to the more famous no-hitter one pitcher.
While Co-No isn’t considered as sexy as a single no-hitter by most fans, Game 4 of the World Series was a prime example of the Astros’ sheer pitching depth — combining to completely dominate and shut down the Phillies’ potent lineup. .
Connected: Pitching Ninja breaks down the incredible Astros team
To Christian Javier Invisi-ball
Christian Javier was brilliant, going six innings with nine strikeouts and giving up just two walks. Javier crushed the Phillies in just two innings, throwing his fastball and slider a combined 98 percent of the time.
Despite Javier’s lack of superior velocity, 72% of his pitches were invisi-balls that are hard to catch. Javier’s fastball ranked as the eighth best fastball in baseball in terms of run value, with a run value of -18 in 2022. Opponents hit just .183 against the field during the regular season.
Javier’s fastball doesn’t have superior velocity, averaging just 93.8 mph, but what makes it very effective is its vertical break. Scientifically speaking, no fastball “rises” on its own – they all fall on their way to home plate due to gravity. However, Javier’s fastball fights gravity better than most due to its spin and spin efficiency.
This chart from Codify Baseball shows how different Javier’s fastball is compared to other fastballs with relatively similar velocities.
On its way to the plate, Javier’s fastball falls about 3 inches less than the average fastball of similar velocity. This lack of drop or “lift” sensation, combined with Javier’s low release point of 5.7 feet, can cause hitters to swoon. Most hitters today tend to swing slightly up to match the plane of the approaching pitch and hit the ball in the air, avoiding ground balls that are generally less valuable than line drives or fly balls. Pitching from a lower arm angle with perceived elevation can cause hitters to spin under a fastball or miss it entirely.
This less-than-average drop can also be effective at the bottom of the strike zone. A hitter will tend to take a fastball at the bottom of the strike zone because he is giving it up thinking it will be low but instead catches the zone.
Javier’s fastball is especially deadly because his slider is also elite. Opponents hit just .121 against Javier’s slider in 2022 with a 39.4% slugging percentage. That fastball and slider combination is a nightmare for hitters, as you can see in these overlays from last night.
To Brian Abreu ridiculous things
To complete an elusive Co-No, by definition, you need help from your bull. And while all of Houston’s relievers were clearly unstoppable, Brian Abreu was particularly unpleasant as he destroyed the side in his only inning of work.
Abreu’s slider is one of the best in baseball, with a 51.3% whiff rate, fourth-highest among all sliders with more than 100 plate appearances (behind only Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom and Spencer Strider). That vicious slider combined with Abreu’s 90s to 100 mph fastball makes me almost feel sorry for hitters. almost.
Montero and Presley
Javier and Abreu were joined by Rafael Montero and Ryan Presley, who were also impressive to round out the Co-No.
It was an all-around historic pitching performance and pitching depth from the Astros. Let’s hope the fans will now give some respect to Co-No, the black sheep of the No-Hitter family!
Rob Friedman is an MLB pitching analyst for FOX Sports whose work has been featured on many Major League Baseball broadcasts. Follow him on Twitter @PitchingNinja.
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