Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors


Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)

Friday
Oct252013

Wacha's Right-on-Right Changeup Deadly

Michael Wacha evened the World Series at one game apiece last night, limiting Boston's best-in-the-bigs offense to two runs over six innings while striking out six. Just a year removed from anchoring Texas A&M's rotation, Wacha became the first Cardinals starter to win a playoff game at Fenway Park since Bob Gibson took down the Sox in Game 7 of the 1967 Fall Classic. He also tied Gibson's franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the postseason, tossing 19 clean frames between Pedro Alvarez's homer in Game 4 of the NLCS and David Ortiz's sixth-inning shot yesterday.

The key to Wacha's Game 2 win? His willingness to throw his changeup to same-handed hitters. Most right-handed starters shelve their changeups when facing righty batters, pulling the string just 7.2 percent of the time. Most pitchers don't have Wacha's changeup, though.

Wacha has thrown his plus-plus change to righties 17.1 percent of the time overall in 2013, and he used it 31.4 percent of the time versus Boston's righty hitters last night. Red Sox righties went a combined 0-for-6 with four strikeouts against Wacha's changeup. Xander Bogaerts went down swinging twice, while Shane Victorino came up empty once and Dustin Pedroia punched out on a foul tip. The whiffs are nothing new for Wacha, whose miss rate with his changeup against righties (47.4 percent) trails just Stephen Strasburg (51.8), Jarrod Parker (48.5), Homer Bailey (47.8) and Kris Medlen (47.7) among right-handed starting pitchers.

Command is big reason why Wacha's tumbling, mid-80s change is so effective. Check out his changeup location versus right-handed hitters this season:

Wacha's changeup location vs. righty batters in 2013

Wacha buries his changeup at righties' knees, throwing the pitch to the lower third of the strike zone 67.9 percent of the time. That's well above the 59.2 percent average for right-handed starters. He also rarely leaves a changeup belt high: Wacha tosses just 18.3 percent of his off-speed offerings to the middle of the plate against righties, way under the MLB average (26 percent) and lowest among right-handed starters save for Homer Bailey (16.3).

Why does that matter? Righty pitchers dominate when they throw their changeups low to same-handed batters (.248 opponent slugging percentage) and get eviscerated when they throw the pitch belt high (.541 slugging percentage). By locating his off-speed stuff low, Wacha has smothered righty hitters for a .125 opponent slugging percentage against the changeup (third-best in the majors, behind Strasburg and Bailey). No righty batter has taken Wacha deep on a changeup, and Willie Bloomquist is the only one to tally even an extra-base hit (a double during Wacha's second big league start back on June 4). Gibby must be proud of this 22-year-old prodigy.

Tuesday
Oct222013

A Tale of Two Lefty-Killers

When the World Series kicks off at Fenway Park on Wednesday, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz should expect to see plenty of Mike Matheny. The Cardinals manager figures to deploy his two lefty-killers, Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist, to neutralize Boston's lead-off and clean-up hitters. Ellsbury (.863 on-base-plus-slugging percentage versus right-handed pitching) and Ortiz (1.092 OPS) crush righties, but struggle to square up same-handed pitching (.641 OPS against lefties for Ellsbury, .733 for Ortiz).

Choate, a 38-year-old slopballer, and Siegrist, a 24-year-old rookie possessing Aroldis Chapman-esque heat, share little common ground. But style differences aside, they both give opposing lefties nightmares.

The Slopballer

If you use the bathroom mid-inning, or grab a sandwich, or blink, you might miss Choate's work for the night. He threw an average of 7.6 pitches per appearance during the regular season, by far the lowest among relievers tossing at least 450 total pitches. That's because Choate is the game's ultimate specialist, facing lefty batters 70.2 percent of the time. Few lefty pitchers in history have smothered same-handed hitters like Choate -- he has the third-lowest opponent OPS ever in southpaw versus southpaw matchups:

Lowest career OPS for lefty pitchers vs. lefty batters (minimum 750 at-bats vs. LHB)

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Choate has been even better in 2013, holding lefties to a .492 OPS. The side-arm hurler gets such excellent results despite radar gun readings that wouldn't get him pulled over on interstate highways. Choate's sinker has the second-slowest average velocity (85.9 MPH) among relievers, topping only submarine pitcher Darren O'Day (85.6 MPH).

While the pitch lacks zip, Choate's sinker is a ground ball machine -- batters are chopping the offering into the grass 76.3 percent of the time. Fellow Cardinal Seth Maness (77.2 percent) is the only reliever to generate a higher percentage of ground balls with his sinker. Choate peppers the bottom of the strike zone with the pitch, throwing his sinker at lefty hitters' knees 59 percent of the time.

Choate's sinker location vs. lefty hitters, 2013

 

His slider also comes in soft, with the second-lowest average velocity (76.1 MPH) among 'pen arms (Darren Oliver averaged 75.2 MPH). Batters nonetheless whiff half of the time they swung at Choate's breaker, compared to the 35.9 percent major league average.

Chapman-in-Training

Siegrist was in elementary school when Choate started his lefty-killer act, but St. Louis' young southpaw has already made some history of his own. Siegrist posted a 0.45 ERA during the regular season, second-lowest ever for a rookie throwing at least 35 innings. Who bested him? Buck O'Brien (0.38 ERA), a 29-year-old spitballer for the 1911 Red Sox. Hitters quickly figured out O'Brien's spit pitch, and he was out of the game a few years later. Considering his stuff and ability to battle hitters on both sides of the plate (he faced a nearly even amount of lefties and righties), Siegrist won't be vanquished so easily.  

Siegrist has little use for breaking and off-speed pitches, firing his fastball 85.7 percent of the time. And with gas like his, who can blame him? Siegrist's fastball averages 95 MPH, a mark best only by Chapman (98.4 MPH), Jake McGee (96.2 MPH), Jake Diekman (95.6 MPH) and Justin Wilson (95.2 MPH) among lefty relievers.

He pounds the outside corner with the pitch -- no lefty has thrown a higher percentage of heaters to the outer third of the zone (69.6 percent) when they have the platoon advantage. Siegrist's combo of speed and command has helped him limit lefty batters to a .388 OPS, best among left-handed relievers save for Luis Avilan (.383 OPS).

Siegrist's fastball location vs. lefty hitters

Monday
Oct212013

The Red Sox Love That Dirty Water

You might recall that each of the eight pitchers listed below pitched 2013 complete game one hitters. However, you might not recall that The Standells were one-hit wonders in their own right as they had one hit in their rock and roll career. Their 1966 hit "Dirty Water," is considered the unofficial official victory anthem of the Red Sox and is played after every home victory.

One-hit Wonders

The Standells
1 Jordan Zimmermann
2 Anibal Sanchez
3 Chris Sale
4 Yusmeiro Petit
5 Shelby Miller
6 Jon Lester
7 Gio Gonzalez
8 Andrew Cashner

This year Fenway celebrated with their home fans more frequently than any other AL club.

Rk Tm W L W-L% Home Road
1 ATL 96 66 .593 56-25 40-41
2 STL 97 65 .599 54-27 43-38
3 BOS 97 65 .599 53-28 44-37
4 OAK 96 66 .593 52-29 44-37
5 DET 93 69 .574 51-30 42-39
6 CLE 92 70 .568 51-30 41-40
7 TBR 92 71 .564 51-30 41-41
8 PIT 94 68 .580 50-31 44-37
9 CIN 90 72 .556 49-31 41-41
10 LAD 92 70 .568 47-34 45-36
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 10/21/2013.

And thanks to the Mariano Rivera inspired AL All-Star team, the Red Sox have home-field advantage in this World Series and might need each of those four games to secure the championship.

Red Sox and Cardinals at Home this postseason

The Red Sox will have a number of advantages when playing at Fenway Park in the Series:
  • They are a team built for the Green Monster in left, the Pesky Pole in right, the triangle in center, and the asymetrical left and right-centerfield gaps.
  • They have the ability in their home park to use David Ortiz as their DH, where he is better offensively than when he plays first, while Mike Napoli is better defensively at first, and their lineup is more potent when they are both in it.
  • They have a diehard fan base who feel that no deficit is insurmountable and no lead is large enough not pile on the misery further.
  • Their up close and personal support can be heard when a Sox pitcher gets two strikes on the opposition and their disapproval is voiced for something as benign as a throw to first by the opposing hurler who is merely trying to keep a Sox runner close.
  • Then there is the boisterous singing of Bob Marley's Three Birds as Shane Victorino come to the plate and then again, every 8th inning of every game, when the cloying "Sweet Caroline" produces a sing-along that may be diabetes-inducing.

The Fenway Advantage

Compare the hitting numbers for the Sox at home at the Cards on the road:
2013 Postseason Red Sox and Cardinals
G AB H XBH HR Runs BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLUG OPS
1. 1. Red Sox @ Home 5 158 38 17 4 30 21 58 5 1 .241 .339 .405 .744
2. 2. Cardinals on the road 5 158 30 9 4 13 14 39 3 0 .190 .264 .304 .568


 
2013 Postseason Red Sox at Fenway
G AB H XBH HR Runs BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLUG OPS
1. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) 2 2 1 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 .500 .750 1.000 1.750
2. Dustin Pedroia (BOS) 5 17 6 2 0 3 3 6 0 0 .353 .429 .471 .899
3. Shane Victorino (BOS) 5 18 6 1 1 3 0 6 2 0 .333 .429 .500 .929
4. Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) 5 18 6 1 0 6 3 6 2 1 .333 .429 .389 .817
5. Daniel Nava (BOS) 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 .333 .500 .333 .833
6. Will Middlebrooks (BOS) 4 12 3 2 0 2 1 2 0 0 .250 .308 .417 .724
7. Jonny Gomes (BOS) 4 16 4 2 0 5 1 6 0 0 .250 .294 .375 .669
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS) 4 13 3 1 0 1 1 6 0 0 .231 .286 .308 .593
9. David Ortiz (BOS) 5 18 4 4 3 5 3 5 0 0 .222 .333 .778 1.111
10. David Ross (BOS) 2 5 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 .200 .333 .400 .733
11. Stephen Drew (BOS) 5 18 2 1 0 1 1 7 0 0 .111 .158 .222 .380
12. Mike Napoli (BOS) 5 14 1 1 0 1 4 9 0 0 .071 .278 .143 .421
13. Mike Carp (BOS) 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000

 
2013 Postseason Red Sox on the Road
G AB H XBH HR Runs BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLUG OPS
1. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) 4 4 2 2 0 5 3 1 0 0 .500 .714 1.000 1.714
2. David Ross (BOS) 2 4 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250
3. Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) 5 22 10 3 0 4 2 2 4 0 .455 .500 .636 1.136
4. Mike Napoli (BOS) 5 19 7 4 2 4 1 6 0 0 .368 .400 .789 1.189
5. Daniel Nava (BOS) 3 8 2 0 0 0 2 3 0 1 .250 .400 .250 .650
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS) 4 13 3 0 0 0 0 9 0 0 .231 .231 .231 .462
7. Dustin Pedroia (BOS) 5 22 4 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 .182 .208 .182 .390
8. David Ortiz (BOS) 5 17 3 0 0 0 5 1 0 0 .176 .364 .176 .540
9. Shane Victorino (BOS) 5 20 3 1 0 1 0 6 0 0 .150 .261 .200 .461
10. Jonny Gomes (BOS) 5 9 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 .111 .200 .111 .311
11. Will Middlebrooks (BOS) 5 11 1 0 0 0 2 7 0 0 .091 .231 .091 .322
12. Stephen Drew (BOS) 5 17 1 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 .059 .059 .059 .118
13. Mike Carp (BOS) 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
 

Sox pitching at Fenway

This postseason, the bullpen and Jon Lester have thrived at home
2013 Postseason Sox Pitchers @ Fenway
G IP GS PA AB H XBH HR AVG OBP SLUG K BB ERA WHIP
1. Brandon Workman (BOS) 2 2.1 0 10 9 2 0 0 .222 .300 .222 1 1 0.00 1.125
2. Craig Breslow (BOS) 3 3.1 0 15 11 1 1 0 .091 .333 .182 1 3 0.00 1.091
3. Felix Doubront (BOS) 1 1.1 0 5 4 0 0 0 .000 .200 .000 0 1 0.00 0.750
4. Junichi Tazawa (BOS) 4 2.0 0 7 7 1 0 0 .143 .143 .143 0 0 0.00 0.429
5. Koji Uehara (BOS) 4 4.0 0 15 15 3 1 0 .200 .200 .267 7 0 0.00 0.750
6. Ryan Dempster (BOS) 1 1.0 0 4 4 1 1 0 .250 .250 .750 2 0 0.00 1.000
7. Jon Lester (BOS) 2 14.0 2 56 50 9 3 2 .180 .268 .320 11 4 1.93 0.929
8. Clay Buchholz (BOS) 2 10.1 2 46 43 12 5 2 .279 .326 .488 10 2 5.91 1.313
9. John Lackey (BOS) 1 5.0 1 26 21 7 2 0 .333 .423 .429 6 3 6.75 1.875

The results are not as clean on the road
2013 Sox Postseason Pitching on the Road
GIPGSPAABHXBHHRAVGOBPSLUGKBBERAWHIP
1. Brandon Workman (BOS)22.10119200.222.300.222210.001.125
2. Craig Breslow (BOS)43.001412200.167.286.167520.001.200
3. Felix Doubront (BOS)11.0053100.333.600.333110.002.000
4. John Lackey (BOS)16.112424410.167.167.208800.000.600
5. Ryan Dempster (BOS)11.0033100.333.333.333000.001.000
6. Koji Uehara (BOS)45.001616211.125.125.313601.800.400
7. Jon Lester (BOS)15.012420700.350.435.350333.381.875
8. Junichi Tazawa (BOS)42.101010400.400.400.400303.381.500
9. Clay Buchholz (BOS)16.012724731.292.370.500534.501.667
10. Franklin Morales (BOS)21.1076200.333.429.333016.752.250
11. Jake Peavy (BOS)28.1237341030.294.351.382438.311.500

As a reminder...

Just saying, the Red Sox play Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 and as Bob Marley sings to Victorino - "Don't worry about a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!" because the Red Sox love that dirty water, aww Boston is their home.