This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks.
Paul Maholm (0-1, 2.19 ERA) takes the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates today at PNC Park. Since 2008, the lefty has held opposing right-handed batters to .246 average on his curve, arguably the best pitch in his arsenal. Ryan Braun has hit .229 against lefty curves since 2008, his lowest average among all pitches with a minimum of 50 pitches seen. That pitch might be the key for Maholm as he tries to retire the powerful Braun in tonight's game.
Braun generates most of his power up in the zone, so Maholm would do well to avoid leaving his fastball up as well, especially considering righties have hit .316 with a .490 slugging percentage off it since 2008.
Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw are two Dodgers pitchers off to good starts in 2011. Kershaw plays 2011 as a 23-year-old fireballer. Kuroda, at 36 can still strike out batters, but he depends much more on working the count.
Look at Kershaw's pitch location by count (click graphic for a larger image):
Clayton always goes after batters in the strike zone. Even on 0-2, when most pitchers waste one, Kershaw hits the strike zone quite often. His wOBA goes way up with three balls on the batter, but that's where the walks happen.
Now look how the mature Kuroda approaches each count:
Notice how Kuroda moves away from the middle of the plate as he gets closer to two strikes, and into the plate as he approaches three balls. Unlike Kershaw, Hiroki can't over power a batter on any count. He wants them to chase balls when he's ahead, and hit the plate when he's behind. The pitchers use different approaches that play to their strength and weakness, but both are effective in getting batters out.