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Entries in Chicago Cubs (33)

Monday
Mar282011

Slow Silva

Carlos Silva pitched himself off the Cubs roster.  Carlos is an interesting pitcher, as he gets poor results despite showing great control.  His main problem was that his fastball got hammered, with opponents hitting .400 against that pitch.  The explanation shows that he might have depended too much on his control.

You can see his control in this heat map of his pitch frequency:

Carlos Silva, pitch frequency, 2008-2010.Now look at the plot in terms of release velocity:

Carlos Silva release velocity, 2008-2010.When Carlos throws fast, his pitches miss the strike zone.  So batters get strikes that are in the mid 80s in general.  If we take this plot down to just his fastballs:

Carlos Silva, fastball release velocity, 2008-2010.The same thing happens. His fastest pitches are out of the strike zone.  Most major league batters can hit a fastball, and all of them can hit a slower one in the strike zone.  Carlos looks like he took velocity off his pitches to get strikes, but they were strikes batters could handle easily.

Monday
Mar142011

Aramis Ramirez's Fastball Woes

What the heck happened to Aramis Ramirez in 2010?  He posted his first sub-100 OPS+ season since 2002 with the Pirates, and his slugging percentage dropped below .500 for the first time since 2003.  At age 32, was it the first drastic sign of decline for the third baseman?

One of the key problems for Ramirez last season was his inability to do anything against fastballs.

Aramis Ramirez vs. Fastballs

(Click to enlarge)

In 2008-09, Ramirez hit .322/.413/.550 on fastballs compared to .218/.283/.325 in 2010.  As you can see from the graphic above, he had a lot of trouble catching up to fastballs away, producing a .524 OPS. 

One possible explanation was that Ramirez was swinging at 7% more fastballs away last season.  This actually reduced his strikeout rate on outside fastballs by nearly 6%.  But it resulted in more weak hits as his SLG% dropped 54 points versus fastballs in that zone.

Ramirez did see a noticeable drop in BABIP versus fastballs last season.  From 2008-09 it was .335, dropping to .246 last season.  However, before we start attributing his troubles to some bad luck, we need to acknowledge that his averages on both line drives and ground balls dropped considerably last season. 

Aramis Ramirez BABIP vs. Fastballs
2008-20092010
LD.773.679
FB.167.169
GB.360.205

With an overall decline in average on liners and grounders coming off fastballs, it's probably more indicative of an issue at the plate rather than bad luck on balls put in play.  If Ramirez is going to have a bounce back year as many in Chicago are expecting, improving his numbers on fastballs will be essential.

Wednesday
Feb162011

Carlos Silva Fighting to make Cubs Rotation 

Gordon Wittenmyer at the Chicago Sun-Times writes today about Carlos Silva’s confidence that he’ll be in the Cubs starting rotation come April. As noted in the article, Silva had a great start to the season, going 9-2 with a 2.96 ERA through 16 starts. However, he fell apart after that, finishing with a 10-6 record and a 4.22 ERA on the season.

Here’s a quick look at Silva’s numbers through those first 16 starts, and what happened in the brief set of starts that followed:
Carlos Silva
PAVGOBPSLGwOBA
4/1/2010 - 7/6/20101468.242.280.372.292
7/11/2010 - 9/30/2010273.460.507.683.516

BB%K%Contact%LD%BABIP
4/1/2010 - 7/6/20103.9%17.2%82.4%14.4%.269
7/11/2010 - 9/30/201011.0%13.7%86.0%27.7%.291

Silva battled a number of injuries last year, not to mention an irregular heartbeat discovered during a game with the Colorado Rockies in early August. The 31-year old veteran has a career ERA+ of 93, with his best season in 2005 with a 130 ERA+. The Cubs can’t rely on Silva duplicating his first half of 2010. However, should he stay healthy, he still might be a decent back of the rotation starter in 2011.
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