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Entries in derek lowe (2)


Derek Lowe Loses that Sinking Feeling

Derek Lowe has decided to call it a career after 17 seasons that included a curse-shattering World Series title with the Red Sox in 2004, two All-Star selections and career earnings north of $110 million. Lowe's money pitch was the sinker, which helped him keep the ball in the park like few others during his era. With 0.7 career home runs surrendered per nine innings, Lowe ranks behind just Greg Maddux, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Andy Pettitte and Pedro Martinez among those tossing 2,000+ innings since the beginning of the 1997 season.

While Lowe's sinker cashed lots of checks over his career, it started to bounce a few years ago -- as in, off outfield walls and bleachers. Lowe's sinker stopped sinking -- and hitters started slugging.

Take a look at Lowe's pitch location with his sinker from 2010 (his last quality season) to 2013, when he coughed up three homers in 13 innings pitched out of the Texas bullpen before getting released.

Pitch location of Lowe's sinker, 2010


Pitch location of Lowe's sinker, 2011


Pitch location of Lowe's sinker, 2012


Pitch location of Lowe's sinker, 2013

Lowe threw about 68% of his sinkers down in the strike zone in 2010, by far the highest clip in the majors among starters who used the pitch regularly. That declined to 65% in 2011, 60% in 2012 and 51% during his brief tenure with the Rangers in 2013.  

With Lowe leaving more sinkers over the middle and upper portions of the plate, hitters teed off. Opponents slugged .400 against Lowe's sinker in 2010, .438 in 2011, .461 in 2012 and .514 in 2013. The big league average for starters over the 2010-13 seasons is .447. Lowe might not say he's retired, but his sinker says otherwise.


Buster Posey vs. Lowe's Sinker

Entering last night's game Buster Posey was one of MLB's top performers when facing the sinker ball. Of course it's no surprise Lowe relies on his sinker to get outs.

Derek Lowe's Pitch Log for Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS

Below you will find a heat map representation of Posey's SLG% against the sinker compared to the rest of Major League Baseball in 2010. When facing the sinker he is second in the league with a .775 SLG%. Only Paul Konerko has a higher SLG% when facing the sinker (.962). We should also note that Posey's AVG when facing the slider is .400 (6th in all MLB). 

2010 In Play SLG% vs. sinker: Buster Posey vs MLB

Meanwhile Posey struggles against the slider. Versus the slider in 2010 Posey has a SLG% of .397 (63rd percentile across MLB) and a AVG of .219. 

2010 In Play SLG% vs. slider: Buster Posey vs. MLB

All that said Derek Lowe still threw approximately the same number of sliders and sinkers to Posey (5 sinkers, 6 Sliders). Posey rarely swings at the first pitch resulting in  two first pitch sinkers for called strikes. 

Here is a pitch by pitch breakdown of Posey's plate appearances versus Derek Lowe last night:

  • Buster Posey grounds into a force out, third baseman Omar Infante to second baseman Brooks Conrad. Aubrey Huff out at 2nd.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 1, 2 out, Man on First, tied 0-0
    • 0-0 - Strike Looking on a 89 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
    • 0-1 - Ball on a 82 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 81 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 2-1 - Ground Ball Fielders Choice on a 90 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
  • Buster Posey singles on a ground ball to left fielder Matt Diaz.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 4, 0 out, Bases Empty, tied 0-0
    • 0-0 - Ball on a 82 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 1-0 - Strike Swinging on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 79 MPH Slider - Low
    • 2-1 - Ground Ball Single on a 89 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
  • Buster Posey doubles (1) on a fly ball to center fielder Rick Ankiel. Buster Posey advances to 3rd, on fielding error by center fielder Rick Ankiel.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 6, 0 out, Bases Empty, trailing 0-1
    • 0-0 - Strike Looking on a 90 MPH Sinker - Low
    • 0-1 - Ball on a 83 MPH Changeup - Low
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 84 MPH Sinker - Low
    • 2-1 - Fly Ball Double on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate