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Entries in Detroit Tigers (64)

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.

Friday
Oct112013

Verlander's High-Low Approach Baffles A's in Game 5

The New York Giants' Christy Mathewson shut out the Philadelphia Athletics in three starts spanning 28 innings during the 1905 World Series, setting a postseason record for the most consecutive scoreless frames against a single opponent. Last night, Justin Verlander broke that century-plus old record by once again torturing the A's -- the Oakland A's. After his 10-strikeout gem in the decisive fifth game of the ALDS, Verlander has now kept Oakland from crossing home plate for 30 consecutive innings.

Facing an A's lineup featuring seven players swinging from the left side, Verlander worked the outside corner with his fastball (thrown 66 percent of the time) and changeup (17 percent). Overall, the Tigers righty tossed 64 percent of his pitches to the outer third of the strike zone. Verlander elevated his fastball, and buried his changeup at hitters' knees.

He showed excellent command of his heater, painting the high-and-away corner of the zone and practically never leaving one over the heart of the plate. He threw 35 of his 73 fastballs (48 percent) to the upper third of the strike zone. Verlander punched out seven A's with his fastball, including swinging Ks against Brandon Moss (three times), Josh Donaldson (twice) and Stephen Vogt. Oakland batters whiffed 18 times in 38 swings (47 percent) against Verlander's gas -- nearly triple the major league average (16.5 percent).

Verlander's fastball location vs. Oakland in ALDS Game 5

Verlander's changeup, by contrast, tumbled to the bottom of the zone. He threw his changeup low about 69 percent of the time, and left just one off-speed pitch high all night. Jed Lowrie went down swinging on a changeup located more than a foot off the plate.

Verlander's changeup location vs. Oakland in ALDS Game 5

 

Verlander's dominant Game 5 outing was the second-best playoff start ever for a Tiger according to Game Score, the Bill James-created stat measuring a pitcher's performance on a 0-100 scale based on innings pitched, Ks, walks, hits and runs allowed. Who's the best? That would be Verlander, who also eliminated the A's last year in ALDS Game 5.

Highest Game Scores (GSc) for Tigers pitchers in playoff history

Source: Baseball-Reference.com