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« Raul Ibanez Still Slugging Fastballs | Main | An analytic look at the struggles of Alex Rodriguez »
Thursday
Oct112012

Justin Verlander will go deep because Valverde is struggling

The great Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, seems to always believe in his own decisions. Detroit Tigers fans have to be hoping that Leyland is deciding to go with Justin Verlander for as long as he can carry his team.

This is not something that would go against Leyland's grain.

Look how often Verlander's name appears in the top 20 games of pitches thrown in a game this season:

RkPlayerDateTmOppRsltApp,DecIPHBBSOHRPitStr
1 Johan Santana 2012-06-01 NYM STL W 8-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 5 8 0 134 77
                           
2 Edinson Volquez 2012-07-05 SDP CIN W 2-1 GS-7 7.0 5 3 10 0 133 82
                           
3 Justin Verlander 2012-08-06 DET NYY W 7-2 GS-8 ,W 8.0 9 1 14 0 132 96
                           
4 Justin Verlander 2012-04-16 DET KCR W 3-2 CG 9 ,W 9.0 7 2 9 0 131 85
                           
5 R.A. Dickey 2012-09-27 NYM PIT W 6-5 GS-8 ,W 7.2 8 2 13 1 128 92
6 Cole Hamels 2012-07-21 PHI SFG L 5-6 GS-8 7.2 10 3 6 3 128 83
7 Felix Hernandez 2012-06-28 SEA BOS W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 1 13 0 128 84
                           
8 Justin Verlander 2012-06-09 DET CIN W 3-2 GS-6 6.0 6 3 9 0 127 85
9 Derek Lowe 2012-05-15 CLE MIN W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 6 4 0 0 127 76
                           
10 Trevor Cahill 2012-09-29 ARI CHC W 8-2 CG 9 ,W 9.0 4 3 9 1 126 81
11 Dan Haren 2012-05-24 LAA SEA W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 14 0 126 83
12 Josh Beckett 2012-04-29 BOS CHW L 1-4 GS-7 ,L 6.2 6 3 8 1 126 85
13 Felix Hernandez 2012-04-19 SEA CLE L 1-2 GS-8 8.0 5 1 12 0 126 75
                           
14 Chris Tillman 2012-07-04 BAL SEA W 4-2 GS-9 ,W 8.1 2 2 7 0 125 79
15 Carlos Zambrano 2012-06-26 MIA STL L 2-5 GS-7 ,L 6.2 8 5 5 1 125 73
16 Jake Peavy 2012-06-19 CHW CHC L 1-2 CG 9 ,L 9.0 5 1 5 0 125 83
17 Matt Cain 2012-06-13 SFG HOU W 10-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 14 0 125 86
18 Clay Buchholz 2012-06-07 BOS BAL W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 1 6 0 125 78
19 C.J. Wilson 2012-05-22 LAA OAK W 5-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 1 2 7 0 125 75
                           
20 Justin Verlander 2012-09-02 DET CHW W 4-2 GS-8 ,W 8.0 4 2 11 1 124 80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/11/2012.
  • Verlander threw 3768 pitches this season and 268.1 innings to lead the league and the Tigers will need him to give them pitches and innings tonight because the A's are ready to come back against Jose Valverde and the Tigers bullpen.
  • Valverde saved 35 games but blew five saves during the regular season after going 49-0 during the 2011 season.
  • The average team in the AL blew 16 saves: the Tigers blew 16 saves.
  • The average AL team had 73 holds: the Tigers had 74.
  • The average AL team allowed 29% of inherited runners to score; the Tigers allowed 31% of these taxing runners to score.
  • The average AL bullpen lost 19 games; the Tigers lost 23, only the White Sox and the Mariners' pen lost more with 25.

What's going on with Valverde? 

Jose Valverde in 2011

Yes, I know this is a red blob, but look at the breakdown of his pitch location:

I will explain: Valverde threw 1209 pitches, 48.7% were in the strike zone, 29.1% were in the vertical middle of the strike zone, 28.1% were down, 29.5% were on the inside, 24.0% were in the horizontal middle, and 46.5% were away.

Jose Valverde in 2012

The differences are subtle, but they exist.

You can see the differences in pitches in the vertical middle, particularly against lefties. The other differences can be found on inside pitches, which may reflect either a lack of control or lack of confidence.

Here's Valverde's 2012 postseason: 

There is no blob.

Valverde, who dropped on avg pitch speed from 91.9 in 2011 to 91.3 in 2012, has dropped to 90.7 in postseason.

Here's his location:

Look how many pitches are up now up in the zone...waiting to get hit.

I don't know if there is something wrong with Valverde or he is simply a tired pitcher, but expect Leyland to give Verlander the ball tonight and unplug the bullpen phone.

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