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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)

Monday
Oct142013

Two Games of LCS Pitching

The pitching in these League Championship Series has been remarkable and worth taking a deeper look.
2013 LCS pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. St. Louis Cardinals 22.0 85 4.09 76 14 3 0 7 24 .184 .269 .026 0.82 0.955
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 20.1 74 3.89 67 9 3 0 6 18 .134 .180 .000 1.33 0.738
3. Detroit Tigers 17.0 69 4.43 59 8 3 1 9 32 .136 .269 .017 2.65 1.000
4. Boston Red Sox 18.0 78 3.65 70 17 8 2 5 13 .243 .273 .072 3.00 1.222

Two broad strokes:
  • The Dodgers are one unlucky team, but the Cardinals are also pitching brilliantly.
  • The most significant number that might explain why Boston is tied in their LCS can be seen as they continue to do what they do best: work the pitcher. Their 4.43 pitches per plate appearance is significantly greater than any of the other three teams.

Let's go deeper by looking at the starting pitching

Clearly the Cardinals and Dodgers starters have been outstanding, but the Tigers starters have been even better. As we progress in this postseason, it would be fair to say that the Red Sox starters are the weakest of the four teams and the team's greatest weakness.
2013 LCS Starting pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Detroit Tigers 13.0 50 4.48 41 2 1 0 8 25 .049 .125 .000 0.69 0.769
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 14.0 48 3.67 45 6 3 0 2 15 .133 .194 .000 1.29 0.571
3. St. Louis Cardinals 12.1 53 3.91 49 11 2 0 3 13 .224 .306 .041 1.42 1.105
4. Boston Red Sox 12.0 53 3.60 49 14 6 2 1 10 .286 .324 .083 4.50 1.250
2013 LCS Starters through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Anibal Sanchez (DET) 6.0 25 4.64 19 0 0 0 6 12 .000 .000 .000 0.00 1.000
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 6.0 20 3.60 18 2 2 0 1 5 .111 .143 .000 0.00 0.500
3. Michael Wacha (STL) 6.1 26 4.31 25 5 1 0 1 8 .200 .294 .080 0.00 0.900
4. Max Scherzer (DET) 7.0 25 4.32 22 2 1 0 2 13 .091 .222 .000 1.29 0.571
5. Jon Lester (BOS) 6.0 27 4.04 24 6 1 0 1 4 .250 .300 .125 1.42 1.105
6. Zack Greinke (LAD) 8.0 28 3.71 27 4 1 0 1 10 .148 .235 .000 2.25 0.625
7. Joe Kelly (STL) 6.0 27 3.52 24 6 1 0 2 5 .250 .316 .000 3.00 1.333
8. Clay Buchholz (BOS) 5.1 26 3.15 25 8 5 2 0 6 .320 .353 .042 7.94 1.412

Let's go even deeper by looking at the bullpens

Tigers fans instead of bemoaning the fact that you are leaving Boston tied 1-1, you need to feel really happy you got out of Dodge with a win. The Red Sox have lit up the Detroit bullpen, barely escaping with a win in Game 1 and you saw what happened in Game 2.
2013 LCS Bullpen pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Boston Red Sox 6.0 25 3.76 21 3 2 0 4 3 .143 .167 .048 0.00 1.167
2. St. Louis Cardinals 9.1 32 4.41 27 3 1 0 4 11 .111 .188 .000 0.00 0.750
3. Los Angeles Dodgers 6.0 26 4.31 22 3 0 0 4 3 .136 .158 .000 1.42 1.105
4. Detroit Tigers 4.0 19 4.32 18 6 2 1 1 7 .333 .500 .056 9.00 1.750
 

It's not just one Tigers reliever, it's all of them

You have to wonder if Jim Leyland is going to have the phone removed from the dugout
2013 LCS Tigers relief pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Al Alburquerque 1.1 5 4.00 5 1 0 0 0 3 .200 .500 .000 6.75 0.750
2. Joaquin Benoit 1.1 6 5.00 6 2 1 1 0 2 .333 .333 .000 6.75 1.500
3. Jose Veras 1.0 4 2.50 4 1 1 0 0 2 .250 .500 .000 9.00 1.000
4. Drew Smyly 0.1 2 6.50 1 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .000 .000 27.00 3.000
5. Rick Porcello 0.0 2 4.50 2 2 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 .500 - -
Saturday
Oct122013

Sanchez Shouldn't Count on Sox Chasing Soft Stuff

Anibal Sanchez might not have the fastball zip or name recognition of fellow Tigers starters Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but he has arguably been manager Jim Leyland's best option in 2013. The 29-year-old Venezuelan has a better park-and-league adjusted ERA (163 ERA+) than 2011 Cy Young Award winner Verlander (121 ERA+) or the possibly soon-to-be Cy Scherzer (145 ERA+).

Sanchez has emerged as an ace due in large part to the quality of his "soft" stuff -- his slider, changeup and curveball. He throws breaking and off-speed pitches nearly as often (48.4%) as his fastball, and he has enticed hitters into chasing his soft stuff off the plate at one of the highest clips among starting pitchers in the Junior Circuit. With a 36.1 percent chase rate on breaking and off-speed pitches, Sanchez trails just Mark Buehrle, Ryan Dempster and Ervin Santana in 2013.

Highest chase rate on soft pitches, 2013

By inducing so many hacks on soft pitches thrown out of the zone, Sanchez has limited hard contact. His .298 opponent slugging percentage on sliders, curves and changeups is sixth-lowest in the AL, behind Chris Sale (.294), Scherzer (.286), C.J. Wilson (.284), Yu Darvish (.243) and Justin Masterson (.181).

Sanchez's winning strategy -- expand the zone with breaking and off-speed stuff -- might not play as well against the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 the ALCS. Collectively, Boston hitters have chased the fourth-lowest percentage of breaking and off-speed pitches in the majors.

Lowest team chase rate on soft pitches

David Ortiz has shown an especially sharp eye against soft pitches, chasing out of the zone only 19 percent of the time this season. Mike Napoli (23.1 percent), Stephen Drew (26 percent), Jonny Gomes (27.8 percent) and Dustin Pedroia (28.4 percent) also resist the urge to go fishing and sliders, curves and changeups.

The Sox do a good deal of damage against soft pitches -- they're slugging .386, fourth-highest in the bigs -- but the real value in their patient approach may be how it puts them in favorable counts and allows them to sit on fastballs. Boston is slugging an MLB-best .484 versus fastballs this season, with Ortiz (.633) and Napoli (.569) leading the way. If Sox hitters lay off Sanchez's soft stuff, he may be forced to challenge Boston with more fastballs. That could lead to some shiny new dents on the Green Monster.

Wednesday
Oct092013

Shane Victorino's HBP Strikes?

As I wrote this morning on Billy-Ball.com:

Shane Victorino is the winner of the this season's Black-and-Blue Award, or if this were an official award, MLB would make sure it was The Johnny Walker Black and Blue Award.

Victorino was hit by 18 pitches in the regular season and another four times by Rays pitchers in the four games of the ALDS and more than once pitches that hit the Flyin' Hawaiian were very close to being, or may have been, strikes.

Take a look at Victorino's 2013 regular season HBP

Still feeling unsure whether any were strikes? 

Here's another look:

There was one HBP, delivered by James Shields on August 11, that was regarded as being "on the black."

Now take a look at Victorino's 2013 ALDS four HBP

These are close, but you can see they are not strikes.

Let's watch...

It will be interesting to watch in the rest of the Red Sox postseason run whether a manager complains about a Victorino HBP as to whether he is actually hanging too much over the plate and if that complaint gets into the head of the ump in the future. 

We also have to watch how many more kerplunkings Victorino can survive.

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