Friday, April 15, 2011

4/16 Pirates @ Reds

That was a tough one to watch last night, and I'd like to remind everyone that is why they play the games! It looked like we had clear advantage with statistics, but with Morton's off-season improvement and Arroyo's lack of bite on his curve the exact opposite happened. I'm hoping Arroyo's ineffectiveness can be blamed to the weather or just being off, and hopefully he turns it around for his next start vs Arizona on Wednesday. I was 1 for 2 in my "pick to clicks" last night as Rolen was 1-4 and I believe he left 4 on base while Jose Tabata had 4 hits.

Today we have a 1:10 pm start and Mike Leake (1-0, 6.75) will face off vs James McDonald (0-0, 5.45) at GABP. Mike Leake switched spots in the rotation with Edinson Volquez (who will start on Sunday) because Volquez has a stiff neck. Now, let's check out the matchups and tendencies:

The Pirates have had 55 plate appearances vs Leake, they have no home runs vs him, but have had no troubles hitting him as they bat .340 (17-50, 5bb). In three starts vs the Pirates in his career Leake is 0-1 with a 1.86 ERA over 19.1 IP. In his one start vs the Pirates at Great American he went 7.1 IP and only gave up 1 run, but they had 10 hits...different story at PNC Park where he gave up 10 total runs. Here's the baseball reference link, and here are some of the main points:
  • Neil Walker is 3-7 with 5 rbi and 2 doubles.
  • Cedeno is 4-8 and McCutchen is 3-8.
  • Out of their 17 hits, only 2 have been extra base hits (Walker's two doubles).
  • LHB are batting .353 this year vs Leake, so expect to see Jones, Walker, Alvarez and Overbay to start. I'm also predicting Doumit to start over Snyder because he is a switch hitter that is more successful from the left side. Doumit is only 1-6 vs Leake, but it's a small sample size and the lefty matchup gives him some hope..
Pick to Click: Garret Jones

Now, onto James McDonald, who has only faced 6 Reds. Last start he gave up 5 runs in 6.2 innings vs the Rockies. Nothing notable from those #s as the sample size is just too small, so let's look at some tendencies:
  • He's only given up 10 home runs in 140 IP in his career, 8 of those have come vs RHB.
  • RHB bat .283, while LHB bat .227
  • His ERA is a whole point higher on the road. (4.39 compared to 3.36)
  • McDonald has a strong curveball, and averages just under a strikeout per inning, so expect a few Drew Stubbs strike outs.
  • Hitters need to be patient as he has a tendency to give up walks..over his career he's averaging one walk per 2 innings, to put that in perspective Leake is averaging one walk per 3 innings.
  • Using FanGraphs, I can why McDonald's K ratio has gone down this year. Granted, it has only been two starts, but hitters are obviously seeing his curveball better. Notice the batters swinging at pitches out of the zone is at 11%, which is 15% lower than his career average, and 90% of those pitches that are outside of the zone are met with contact (compared to 65% career avg.) Only 3.7% of pitches in the strike zone were swung at and missed, compared to his 8.7% career average.

My Pick to Click: Jay Bruce. LHB don't have great success, but I think he's about to get hot and he is the Reds 2nd best curveball hitter (Rolen is #1 w/ a 6.0 in '10). If he can work the count he'll get some curveballs to hit. FanGraphs had him at a 4.3 wCB (curveball runs above average) rating. To put that into perspective Votto had a 0.9 last year and Phillips had a -0.5.

I'm going to try to start using more stats like this when I have time, but it'll take a little time for me to get a grasp on what league averages are in each of these crazy statistics. In my free time I've been reading up on some of these stats, so it shouldn't take too long. I'll also do my best explaining the stats I use..:

-wCB is the curveball runs above average, so basically the league average is 0.0 and anything higher means the batter hits that type of pitch better (i.e wFB is for fastballs). There is also wCB/C which has a # based on 100 pitches so you can get a better idea of how many of that type of pitch the batter has seen.

Note: This in depth analysis is purely experimental and I may be off base, but I figured it'd be fun for me to do.

Also, a new feature, I'm now going to make predictions for each game, no scores though just a team and a few thoughts on it: Reds bats come alive and they win big.

Off topic stuff:
-Phil Hughes goes on the 15 day DL for a dead arm, and here I thought that was a career ending injury....

-Hopefully Lance Berkman cools off before the Reds play the Cards, he has 6 home runs on their road trip in 27 at bats, and last year for the Yankees he had 1 home run in 106 abs all year.

-Former Red Aaron Harang is now 3-0 and has gone 6IP and 1 ER all 3 starts this year.

-There may be a new rule in college football next year where teams can lose points for taunting penalties, are you kidding me? I can't think of a sport where you can lose points after you got them for a penalty.

Follow me on Twitter @EricLilly7

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