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Entries in Clay Buchholz (11)

Wednesday
May012013

Pitching was reason for the Red Sox great April

At 18-8 (.692), the Red Sox have the best record in baseball, off to its best start since beginning the 2002 season with a 19-7 record.

Their first John Farrell managed month is certainly better than their first Bobby Valentine 11-11 managed month last year.

The last two times the Sox held MLB’s best record at the start of May were in 2004 (15-6, .714) and in 2007 (16-8, .667). If those years are not familiar to you, just ask any citizen of Red Sox Nation who will remind you that those years Terry Francona's club went on to win the World Series.

A huge reason for this early success belongs to Boston's pitching

The Sox have scored 135 runs and allowed just 97. That 38 run differential is the best in baseball. The Rangers have a +32 and the Braves are +31. For some perspectives the preseason favorite Blue Jays are at -33 and the Angels are -28.

While the Sox bats have been steadily batting the ball around the ballpark, it's the starting pitching that has excelled. The Sox starters have a 3.24 ERA, fourth best in the majors. The Cardinal starters have a spectacular 2.15 ERA, the Reds are a 2.95, the Rangers are at 3.15, and the Tigers are at 3.18. On the other hand, the Astros are at 6.08, Padres at 5.48, and the Angels at 5.32. The  Sox starters’ 15-4 record (.789) is the best in baseball.

The Rangers and Cubs starters are holding batters to a .220 average, but the Sox are close behind at .224.

The Sox starters lead the majors averaging 9.66 strikeouts per nine innings. The Twins starters are only at 4.37.

Clay Buchholz has been the ace thus far winning all five of his starts and his 1.19 ERA (five earned runs in 37.2 IP) ranks third in baseball trailing only Jake Westbrook's sick 0.98 and Matt Moore's 1.13. It's the lowest by a Red Sox through the first five starts since Roger Clemens in 1991 (0.66).

The WHIP and ERA of Red Sox starters

If you really want to see how the Sox starters stand alone, check out this chart:

Red Sox pitchers lead the majors in double-digit strikeout games

Rk Tm #Matching W L
1 BOS 16 12 4
         
2 DET 13 9 4
         
3 CIN 11 8 3
         
4 LAD 10 7 3
         
5 STL 9 6 3
         
6 TEX 8 7 1
7 SFG 8 4 4
8 PIT 8 6 2
9 ARI 8 6 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/1/2013.

The Bullpen

The Red Sox bullpen reputedly may be in the top three in baseball, but you wouldn't know it from their ERA which is 4.33, 22nd in baseball (Atlanta's pen has a 2.01 ERA). The bullpen has a 3-4 record and have completed 8-of-13 save opportunities. The Diamondback's pen is 8-3 but has only completed 8-of-16 save opportunities. The Rangers pen is 5-1 and 9-for-9 in saves. The Braves relievers are 6-1 and have succeeded on nine-of-10 save opportunities.

When it comes to relievers, I'm a fan of WHIP as a measuring device.

Red Sox Reliever Games/WHIP

Another critical measurement for relievers is the "tax stat," IRS, Inherited Runs Scored

  IP GR IR IS IS%
Alfredo Aceves 17.2 2 2 1 50%
Andrew Bailey 12.1 13 2 0 0%
Daniel Bard 1.0 2 0 0  
Joel Hanrahan 5.2 7 0 0  
Andrew Miller* 5.2 10 3 0 0%
Clayton Mortensen 10.2 8 0 0  
Junichi Tazawa 12.2 13 9 1 11%
Koji Uehara 10.2 12 7 2 29%
Alex Wilson 6.0 6 3 1 33%
Steven Wright 3.2 1 1 0 0%
League Average         32%
Team Total   74 27 5 19%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2013. 

For the Red Sox, so far, so good

There are many months, and many games to go this season and it is impossible to predict who will stay healthy, who will get injured, who will get hot, or who will get cold. However, April is in the books, and this season, so far, there are no complaints from Red Sox Nation.

Sunday
Apr282013

Face off: Clay Buchholz vs. Matt Moore

There are two starters who have begun the season going 5-0: Matt Moore and Clay Buchholz. Hopefully at some point this season these two stars will face off against each, but until then, we can only imagine it through stats.

Here are the AL starters who have made five starts this season

This chart looks at ERA and WHIP

As you mouse over the icons, you realize you want to be in the lower left quadrant. Here you are in the company of Hisashi Iwakumi, Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez, Anibal Sanchez, Ervin Sanchez, and Buchholz and Moore.

The upper right is ugly territory. This is where Philip Humber, Joe Blanton, Brad Peacock and Jarrod Parker are residing.

Let's look at BAA and Slugging

Once again, the best are in the lower left corner occupied by Moore and Darvish. The next group includes Buchholz, Sanchez, Jon Lester and Hiroki Kuroda.

On the dark side, you find Joe Blanton, Parker, Humber, Joe Saunders, Mark Buehrle and the like.

Starters with runners on base

This is my look at when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Again, look at the lower left and you find that not only has Clay Buchholz held the opposition to a .103 average with runners on, but a .143 average with runners in scoring position.

Not to be outdone, Matt Moore held the opposition to a .122 average with runners on and a .000 average w/RISP.

Ryan Dempster's .130/.148 combo is outstanding as is Wei-Yin Chen's .143/200. Perhaps the league hasn't been paying enough attention to Seattle's Iwakuma (.154/.062) and Jake Peavy (.158/176). But the league is well aware of Humber's .452/.556(!) and Brandon Maurer's .361/.474.

Moore vs. Buchholz - head-to-head

As you can see from the charts above, there are many good starters in the AL and if this has proven anything it simply supports those of you who feel that wins are not the correct way to measure the efficacy of a pitcher.

But, let's finish with our face off between Moore and Buchholz. 

  • Buchholz has thrown 529 pitches and faced 144 batters allowing 25 hits including one homer. He has walked 13 and whiffed 39.
  • Moore has thrown 528 pitches and faced 123 batters allowing 13 hits including three homers. He has walked 15 and whiffed 38.

If I had to choose, in the long run I would take the 23-year old Moore over the 28-year old Buchholz, Moore's upside is far greater. But this season, I would be quite content with either on my staff.

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.