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Entries in Clay Buchholz (11)

Tuesday
Jun182013

B.Chuck: Boston should be worried about their pitching

As I pointed out yesterday, the Red Sox revival this season has more to do with John Farrell's magic with getting the most out of timely hitting and good clubhouse chemistry than with his presumed talents with a pitching staff. 

  • The Red Sox are seventh in the league with a team ERA of 3.84.
  • Their starters are fourth in the league with a 3.79 ERA and their bullpen is 11th in the AL with a 3.94 ERA. 

But perhaps what should be most disconcerting for Red Sox Nation is there is no indication that the pitching staff is getting better.

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
April/March 18 8 .692 3.58 8 231.0 191 97 92 26 97 255 1.247 9.9 2.63
May 15 15 .500 4.00 3 265.2 260 131 118 32 108 249 1.385 8.4 2.31
June 9 6 .600 3.95 2 136.2 136 62 60 21 55 115 1.398 7.6 2.09
April/Mar,GS 15 4 .789 3.24 0 158.1 131 62 57 15 66 170 1.244 9.7 2.58
May,GS 9 13 .409 4.15 0 177.2 168 93 82 23 73 155 1.356 7.9 2.12
June,GS 7 4 .636 4.03 0 89.1 93 41 40 16 32 68 1.399 6.9 2.13
April/Mar,GR 3 4 .429 4.33 8 72.2 60 35 35 11 31 85 1.252 10.5 2.74
May,GR 6 2 .750 3.68 3 88.0 92 38 36 9 35 94 1.443 9.6 2.69
June,GR 2 2 .500 3.80 2 47.1 43 21 20 5 23 47 1.394 8.9 2.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 6/18/2013.

A look at the numbers

When you look at the numbers for the pitchers, you can sense that it's pretty amazing that this is a first-place ballclub.

  • With 171 bases on ball, Sox starters have a significant lead in issuing walks over any other group of starters in the majors.
  • With 7142 pitches, Sox starters have thrown more pitches than any other group of starters in the majors, yet they are 10th in the majors in innings thrown.
  • Sox relievers are 10th in innings pitched in the AL with 208.0, but are 11th in ERA in the AL and 13th in WHIP with 1.365.
  • Slugging average against starters is .403, tied for third in the AL and while the slugging against the relievers is .403, that's only good for 13th in the AL.
  • The strikeout to walk ratio is 2.30 for starters (10th in the AL) and 2.54 for the bullpen (6th in the AL).
  • FYI: The Sox pitchers have issued eight bases-loaded walks this season, the most in the majors.

Let's look at some individual numbers 

  • Clay Buchholz is having a Cy Young season: he's 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. He has pitched brilliantly when he's been out there. Buchholz has made 12 starts, missing three so far and we await news as to whether he is going on the DL. Since the start of 2010, Buchholz has made 83 starts, while teammate Jon Lester has made 111.
  • Lester is a whole other set of issues. In his first nine starts, Lester was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. In his last six starts, he is 0-4 and a 7.20 ERA. Lester with 1627 pitches thrown, has tossed more than any other pitcher in baseball, but his 94.7 IP is good for only 15th in baseball. Lester is around the strike zone, he has 69 full counts, the most in baseball, but his 135 foul balls when the batter has two strikes on him is indicative of his inability to finish off an at bat.
  • Despite his 4-5 record, John Lackey has been a pleasant surprise rebounding well from two bad seasons and Tommy John surgery. He has a 3.08 ERA but has a not very impressive 1.212 WHIP.
  • Of course, Lackey's WHIP looks better when you compare it to Ryan Dempster's 1.332 and Felix Doubront's 1.895, who have ERAs of 4.21 and 4.445 respectively, if not respectfully. 

Let's go to the bullpen

  • With the relief corps being used frequently, the Sox bullpenners Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara have each appeared in over 30 games already this season.
  • Andrew Bailey is the full-time closer now that Joel Hanrahan's Red Sox career is probably finished due to injuries. Each season Bailey seems to battle injuries as well. He has been successful in eight-of-10 save attempts. He's had seven-of-22 appearances in which he has not allowed a baserunner. 
  • As a frame of reference, Joe Nathan has had 15-of-30 appearances without allowing a baserunner and Jason Grilli is 17-of-33.

Reason to be concerned

The deeper you look at the pitching (and this was just a glance) for the Red Sox, the more you need to be concerned.

Thus far, the Red Sox timely hitting has carried the team. Having said that, the average team BABIP is .296 and the Red Sox have the highest team BABIP in baseball at .332.

How lucky is that hitting?

Well, in 2008 the Texas Rangers had a .325 BABIP and in 1997, the Red Sox had a .325 batting average for balls in play, the Twins had a .325 BABIP in 1996, the highest numbers in the last 20 seasons.

All of which makes you think that if the Sox don't start getting luckier or better on the mound, the Orioles and Rays and maybe even the Yankees and the Jays will be making the AL East and Wild Card races very close and Red Sox Nation very nervous.

Saturday
Jun082013

One and D'oh!

Al Michaels has always been one of my favorite announcers, and while many of you may think of him as a football announcer or asking the immortal question, "Do you believe in miracles?", I always loved his work in baseball.

Like many announcers, the Brooklyn-born Michaels has certain tells in their speech as to their background. With Michaels, I would always wait for the first pitch of an at bat to a batter to hear Michaels channel his inner not-yet-created Homer Simpson state, "The count is one and d'oh."

Here's a look at that first pitch ball.

The 1-0 pitch

Pitchers don't want to go 1-0. It's better than giving a hit on 0-0, but that's it. Everything else is worse. You fall behind and immediately give an advantage to the batter as a result.

The difference between 0-1 and 1-0

SplitPAABRH2B3BHRBAOBPSLGOPSTB
1-0 Count 4589 4439 751 1444 308 37 188 .325 .326 .538 .864 2390
0-1 Count 6106 5867 808 1836 347 29 166 .313 .320 .467 .787 2739
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/8/2013.

Who are the best 1-0 pitchers?

There are 10 pitchers who have held batters to under a .200 batting average against on 1-0 pitches.

Doug Fister has been incredible only allowing one hit, an infield single to Mark DeRosa on 4/11 in the midst of a Tigers blowout of the Jays.

Clay Buchholz has been equally effective only allowing a Vernon Wells single in a Red Sox victory over the Yankees on 4/3.

The Tribe's Zach McAllister has permitted just two hits on the 1-0 count. 

 

Name

G

PA

AVG

OBP

SLUG

OPS

1

Doug  Fister  (DET)

12

21

0.053

0.143

0.053

0.195

2

Clay Buchholz (BOS)

11

12

0.083

0.083

0.083

0.167

3

Zach McAllister (CLE)

11

21

0.100

0.143

0.100

0.243

4

A.J. Griffin (OAK)

12

17

0.118

0.118

0.118

0.235

5

Travis Wood (CHC)

12

20

0.150

0.150

0.200

0.350

6

C.J. Wilson (LAA)

12

18

0.176

0.222

0.353

0.575

7

Nick Tepesch (TEX)

11

17

0.176

0.176

0.529

0.706

8

Jon Niese (NYM)

11

16

0.188

0.188

0.313

0.500

9

Lance Lynn (STL)

12

17

0.188

0.188

0.250

0.438

10

Jason Hammel (BAL)

13

22

0.190

0.182

0.286

0.468

 

The pitchers who struggle on 1-0

There are 24 pitchers who have a .400+ batting average against them on 1-0 counts. 

These are the seven worst.

 

 

G

PA

AVG

OBP

SLUG

OPS

1

Kris Medlen (ATL)

12

13

0.667

0.667

1.000

1.667

2

Dillon Gee (NYM)

12

26

0.654

0.654

0.962

1.615

3

Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE)

12

15

0.571

0.533

0.714

1.248

4

Ryan Dempster (BOS)

12

12

0.545

0.500

1.455

1.955

5

Marco Estrada (MIL)

12

22

0.545

0.545

1.091

1.636

6

Adam Wainwright (STL)

13

30

0.483

0.483

0.621

1.103

7

R.A. Dickey (TOR)

13

26

0.480

0.462

0.960

1.422

Nine to Know

  1. R.A. Dickey has thrown 166 1-0 pitches, Mark Buehrle 159, James Shields 148, constituting the three most 1-0 counts on batters.
  2. R.A. Dickey has thrown 104 1-0 strikes, Mark Buehrle 107, and Jon Lester 100
  3. Kevin Correia has had 39 1-0 plate appearances.
  4. Dillon Gee has has surrendered 17 1-0 hits.
  5. Marco Estrada and Kevin Correia have each allowed four 1-0 homers.
  6. Cliff Lee has produced 17 foul balls 1-0 counts.
  7. After 1-0, Jordan Zimmermann has gone 1-1 51 times, the most in the majors.
  8. After 1-0, R.A. Dickey and Edinson Volquez have gone 2-0 62 times, the most in the majors
  9. After 1-0, Jason Marquis has walked the batter 29 times, Tim Lincecum, Dickey, and Lucas Harrell 28 times each, the most in the majors.

There you go, my "one and d'oh" salute to the great Al Michaels.

Monday
Jun032013

Clay Buchholz is on the verge

The key for a great pitcher, or at least a great season for a pitcher, is consistency.

Arm motion, release points, and mechanics in general that can be repeated over and over, pitch by pitch, inning by inning, game by game leads to greatness. Boston's Clay Buchholz is on the verge...again.

Clay has had good streaks before, as recently as last season.

In 11 starts from May 27 to August 10, he was brilliant

Over that time period, Buchholz started 11 games, he went 6-1 and a very bad Sox team went 8-3. He threw 82.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.08, a BAA of .204, and struck out 59 while walking just 15.

So far this season, Buchholz has been even better

He has started 11 games and gone 8-0 and the team is 10-1 in his starts. He's thrown 77.2 innings and has a sparkling ERA of 1.62, a BAA of .190, and struck out 77 while walking 28.

The cutter is the key

Buchholz primarily throws four pitches: fastball, cutter, curve, and change, and occasional splitter.

But when Buchholz is throwing his cutter well, everything is working as it particularly helps his fastball.

5/27 to 8/10/2012

  • Total pitches thrown 1148
  • Fastball 46.1% - .227 BAA
  • Cutter 19.1% - .155 BAA 

2013 to date

  • Total pitches thrown 1141
  • Fastball 48.4% - .209 BAA
  • Cutter 22.4% - .117 BAA

Frame of Reference

Before the 2012 hot streak

3/28 to 5/26/2012

  • Total pitches thrown 864
  • Fastball 45.8% - .337 BAA
  • Cutter 21.3% - .333 BAA

As you can see, when Buchholz lets that cutter drift up and into the zone, the pitch loses its effectiveness. And when the cutter drifts, the fastball looks very similar and there for easier to hit. 

The Sox just delayed a Buchholz turn on the mound and it will be interesting to see if they give him additional days in between starts as the summer wears on. If consistency is key, the slight Buchholz must battle the fatigue that causes inconsistency.

However, if Clay Buchholz continus to do what he has been doing thus far this season, not only will he be the presumptive Cy Young Award winner, but he will lead the Red Sox back to the postseason promised land. He's on the verge.