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Entries in Max Scherzer (6)

Wednesday
Oct092013

3-2 is a Pitcher's Count for Max Scherzer

In yesterday's great Tigers' 8-6 win over the A's yesterday, in relief, Max Scherzer pitched out of a bases loaded no one out jam in the 8th inning without allowing a run, in this case the tying run in a 5-4 game, to score.

What made this Houdini-act even more impressive was the fact that Scherzer went to a 3-2 count on two of the batters.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of abracadabra was how he came back from down 3-1 to strike out Josh Reddick with no one out.

On the first 3-2 pitch to Reddick, Josh fouled off a 95 MPH four seamer that was over the plate. But on the next pitch, Reddick went down swinging on a 85 MPH change that was slightly inside.

Then with two down, on another 3-2 pitch, Alberto Callaspo lined out to center fielder Austin Jackson on an outside 95 MPH four seamer.

Here's how Scherzer addressed 3-2 counts during the postseason


Max Scherzer on 3-2 counts
PAPHBBKPOUTSwng#Miss#ClStk#Chas#AVGSLUGOBP
Postseason4501233112.000.000.250
Fastball2300122011.000.000.000
Change up2201111101.000.000.500

Here's how Scherzer addressed 3-2 counts during the regular season


Max Scherzer on 3-2 counts
PAPHBBKPOUTSwng#Miss#ClStk#Chas#AVGSLUGOBP
Overall114156830407511732832.096.193.342
Fastball619051323427017615.106.170.311
Change up313639919268110.136.364.387
Curve5603222111.000.000.600
Slider17240561219606.000.000.294
Thursday
Aug222013

Killing the Win won't kill Max Scherzer

For those of you who are not on Twitter, get on Twitter. There is a trend that was started not too long ago by MLB Network's, Brian Kenny. That trend is aptly titled, "Kill the win." And it is a sentiment that I fully endorse. Especially in the cases of pitching analysis, projection and, in November, hardware handouts. 

Pitchers rarely actually deserved his team's "win." But I think even Brian Kenny would agree that when Clayton Kershaw, in his Opening Day start for the Dodgers, threw a complete game shutout while driving in his team's only run that day with a home run, truly earned the "W" next to his name. 

But in most cases, pitching wins are silly.

Let me show you what I mean. 

Let's compare two pitchers:

  • Pitcher A is fly ball pitcher and has a slight upper hand in the strikeout department.
  • Pitcher B is getting more outs on the ground but is better at limiting free passes. 

Neither of them is separating himself from the other, and are close enough to be considered similar. 

Let's go a little deeper 

  • Pitcher A has an advantage in OPS against by 82 points. Which is pretty significant.
  • But he also has a BABIP-against that is 43 points higher than Pitcher B, also significant. 

Luck has played a major factor in the success of Pitcher A.

And not to spoil the surprise, but that .248 BABIP-against is 56 points below Pitcher A's career average. Just saying.

Let's go a little broader

 

The wins and losses should be a telling sign of, at least, who Pitcher A is. If you haven't figured it out, Pitcher A is Tigers starter, Max Scherzer

Pitcher B, is Chris Sale

Why is it important that I compare these two pitchers?

Because Max Scherzer is the front runner for the American League Cy Young Award. And rightfully so. He has been dominant all season long. But Sale has been almost equally as dominant.

The biggest difference is run support. 

 

  • The Tigers average 5.9 runs per game when Pitcher A Scherzer is on the mound.
  • When Pitcher B Chris Sale makes a start for the White Sox, the Pale Hose average 3.1 runs per game.

 

Who would you rather pitch for? 

 

  • The White Sox have scored two runs or less in support of Chris Sale eight times this season in 24 starts. That's more than one-third of his starts.
  • That has happened only twice in the 26 games that Max Scherzer has started. 

 

 

  • The Tigers have scored more than five runs 17 times in support of Scherzer.
  • Chris Sale has received similar support only seven times this season.

 

Unfortunately for Sale, this is a matter of circumstance. He pitches for a bad team. The White Sox have the third worst record in baseball, and are only four games better than the Giancarlo Stantons Miami Marlins. Chris Sale would have had to have pitched like Clayton Kershaw this season to overcome what is one of the weakest offenses in baseball (they rank 29th in baseball in runs).

But aside from ERA - and maybe WHIP - Cy Young voters aren't going to be worried about whether or not Sale's K% was on par with Scherzer's when they fill out their ballots at the end of the season. They are going to see the numbers "19-1" and "9-12."

For as far as the BBWAA came when they handed the CYA to Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez in 2009 and 2010, respectively, they still have a long way to go before they would look at two pitchers like Sale and Scherzer and find any similarities. 

Kill the win? 

Maybe not "kill it." But I would advocate beating it until it is in a vegetative state and unable to sway awards voters one way or another.

Monday
Jul222013

Max Scherzer Platoon-Proof in 2013

With apologies to Justin Verlander, Detroit has a new ace. Max Scherzer has taken the great leap forward that both scouts and statheads have long prophesized, establishing new full-season bests in ERA+ (133) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.90). The 28-year-old righty with one blue eye and one green eye had been a totally different pitcher depending upon which side of the plate the hitter toed, dominating same-handed batters but getting pummeled by left-handers. That has changed during Scherzer's breakout season, as he has cut his opponent slugging percentage against lefties from .465 in 2012 to .357 in 2013.

How has Max become practically platoon-proof? Here's a closer look at what he's doing diferently against lefties this season.

  • Scherzer is throwing fewer fastballs (65% in '12, 57% in '13) and sliders (9% in '12, 5% in '13), relying more upon his changeup (26% in '12, 29% in '13) and a newly implemented curveball (thrown 8% of the time). Scherzer's curve has been particularly effective -- hitters are 4 for 23 (.174) against the pitch, with just one extra-base hit. Perhaps Max's less predictable mix has helped his fastball play up. Lefties are slugging .356 versus Scherzer's fastball this year, down from .480 in 2012. For comparison's sake, lefty hitters are slugging .431 against righy starters this season.
  • He's getting ahead of lefties from the get-go, boosting his first-pitch strike rate from 57% in 2012 to 61% in 2013. The MLB average for right-handed starters against lefty hitters is 58%.
  • Scherzer is challenging lefties more often, increasing his rate of pitches thrown in the strike zone from 43.7% to 45.4% (46.7% average for righty starters against lefties). The difference is more pronounced on the first pitch of the at-bat (Scherzer threw 48.4% of his first-pitch offerings to lefties over the plate in 2012, and 52.5% in 2013).
  • He's not getting squeezed as much against lefties this year. In 2012, Scherzer got a called strike on a pitch thrown in the strike zone and taken by the batter just 72% of the time (the average for righty starters versus lefty batters is about 81%). This year, his called strike rate on in-zone pitches is 79%. In particular, Scherzer is getting more credit for in-zone pitches thrown high and away.

Scherzer's called strike rate on in-zone pitches versus lefty batters, 2012

Scherzer's called strike rate on in-zone pitches versus lefty batters, 2013