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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)

Thursday
Apr182013

How strong has the Red Sox pitching been?

Really, really, really strong

“Our pitching has been unbelievable,” Red Sox captain-in-waiting Dustin Pedroia said.

But believe it.

As I wrote in my piece on Billy-Ball.com, Red Sox starters have not yet allowed more than three earned runs in a game this season.

The 2013 AL Starting Pitching 

As you mouse over the the teams, you realize that you want to be as far to the lower left-hand corner as possible. 

  • You don't want to be the Angels, whose starters have a 6.07 ERA and a 1.692 WHIP.
  • You don't want to be the Blue Jays, whose starters have a 5.92 ERA and a 1.608 WHIP.

But, you want to be the Tigers, whose starters have a 2.70 ERA and a 1.119 WHIP.

And, you want to be the Red Sox, whose starters have a 2.30 ERA and a 1.202 WHIP.

The 2013 AL Relief Pitching 

At this time of the year I am less concerned with the ERA of bullpens because of the small sample, but I am concerned with the number of innings thrown as that reflects short starts and could ultimately result in further wear and tear on the relievers. With relievers I always pay attention to WHIP.

On the chart above, you want to be in the lower left-hand quadrant, not the upper-right.

Royals fans have to be pleased that their bullpen has only had to throw 32.1 IP and been incredibly successful with a 1.113 WHIP.

The Astros bullpen introduction to AL has been less accomodating. They have already thrown 58.0 unproductive innings with a 1.517 WHIP.

Of major concern across the border has to be the Blue Jays bullpen which has been out there for 55.1 innings , with a 1.428 WHIP and having allowed 23 earned runs.

But the Red Sox pen has pitched 42.2 innings, their WHIP is 1.055, and they have allowed just 16 earned runs.

The bottom line is that the Braves today are the best team in baseball and their pitching staff has permitted just 25 ER, the Red Sox are next on the list having permitted only 37 ER.

The formula for succcess

It's a long season, but forget all the talk about chemistry, the game is about pitching and if you pitch well, you will do well and so far that's the Boston formula for success.

Monday
Apr152013

So far, so very good for Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz may have been 3-1 last April, but he certainly wasn't a good pitcher. 

Buchholz had an 8.69 ERA and a 1.897 WHIP. Batters hit .331 against him and he allowed seven homers in five games.

Take a look at why advanced fans of analytics discount the value of wins by pitchers

As you can see, there are way too many hotspots reflecting where batters had success against Clay.

But with the return of his mentor, John Farrell, Buchholz is off to a terrific start in 2013.

In his first three starts in 2013, Buchholz is 3-0 with a microscopic 0.41 ERA and a 0.955 WHIP. Batters have hit .149 against him going 11-for-74 and he has  allowed just one double and one homer in 22 IP.

His heat chart is a thing of beauty

If you are looking for one pitch that is the difference maker

How's this? 

  • In April 2012, Buchholz threw 112 cutters and batters hit .407.
  • In April 2013, Buchholz has thrown 62 cutters and batters have hit .071. 

It may be too early to judge the efficacy of Farrell as a manager of this team, but there is no question, he and pitching Juan Nieves are making a huge impact on the Boston staff.

Monday
Apr012013

Andrew Miller owns Robinson Cano

Andrew Miller and Bill ChuckIt's rare to find as good a batter as Robinson Cano befuddled by a pitcher, but in baseball parlance Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller owns Robby.

The Yankee lineup right now may be the worst in the AL East, but when you have Cano in the lineup, anything positive can happen.

Except when Miller is on the mound.

In the bottom of the 7th inning of Opening Day in the Bronx, amidst a sea of mediocrity, the Red Sox held a 5-2 lead. Inexplicably, Francisco Cervelli walked to lead off the inning. To the dismay of new Sox manager John Farrell,  Brett Gardner also walked, sending Cervelli to second and bringing the tying run to the plate.

After pitching coach Juan Nieves visited the mound, Eduardo Nunez was called out on strikes.

Up steps Cano, the only legitimate hitting threat in the Yankee lineup.

  • Miller starts him with an 85 mph slider that breaks far outside and Cano looks helpless as he swings and misses.
  • Cano then swings and misses on a four-seam fastball, again on the outside of the plate.
  • On the third pitch, Miller doesn't get it where he wants and leaves the fastball on the inside of the plate, Cano gets in front of it and rips it foul.
  • After a discussion with his catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miller throws the fastball down and in the dirt, away from Cano. The next pitch is again away from Cano and the strike zone. Then on the 2-2, Miller powers it one more time and gets the swing-and-miss strikeout.

Cano, in his career, is now 1-for-10 with one single, one walk, and five strikeouts.

Over the last five seasons, including Opening Day 2013

  • Cano has seen 34 pitches from Miller, 20 fastballs, 14 sliders.
  • There have been 21 strikes. 
  • Cano has swung at 15 and missed four.
  • He's put four in play and fouled off seven.
  • There have been 14 pitches in the zone with Cano chasing six with six strikes called.
  • His only hit off of Miller came last season on a soft line drive to center that Cano reached for and was lucky to make contact with. It was the only line drive that Cano has managed off Miller in the last five years.

Cano has hit James Shields at a .413 pace going 31-for-75 and he's 12-for-25 (.480) against Clay Buchholz.

If they were smart, they would have an ownership discussion with Miller.