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« Rangers Add Mike Gonzalez | Main | Mo Chases For Mo »

Beckett Leans to the Left

Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox showed great success against the Yankees this season, particularly against the New York left-handed batters.  The lefties combined for a .156/.239/.219 slash line, striking out 31% of the 71 batters he faced.  What is the secret of his success?

First, Beckett stays in the strike zone:

Josh Beckett, pitch frequency vs. Yankees LHB, 2011.More importantly, he's throwing different speeds to different parts of the strike zone.

Josh Beckett, release velocity vs. Yankees LHB, 2011.He works his fastball higher in the strike zone, and often out of the strike zone.  He's showing fastball where lefties don't like to swing, and the off-speed pitches where they like to chase.  That's resulting the Yankees hitters not swinging at many good pitches:

Josh Beckett, swing rate by Yankees LHB, 2011.The Yankees lefties are giving Beckett the inside part of the plate.  They are also chasing pitches down and away, pitches that likely don't result in good outcomes.  His location, change of speeds and pitch types keep these batters totally off balance.  It's a text book case of how to pitch to batters who have the platoon advantage.

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