As promised yesterday, we’ll take a look at the World Series starters. Despite the Phillies naming Pedro Martinez the Game 2 starter, there is still a lot of uncertainty around both teams’ rotations:
- Will the Phillies use a four-man rotation?
- If so, will Charlie Manuel use Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ?
- Will the Yankees use a three-man rotation?
- If so, who is starting Game 2?
- If not, will Joe Girardi select Chad Gaudin to start Game 4?
Regardless, we can still take a look at what these starters throw and how often they throw it. Introduced in the NLDS preview, I’ll be using scatter plots with the pitch frequency and the respective values (runs above average per 100 pitches of the type in question). These statistics can be found at FanGraphs — here’s Cole Hamels’ page for instance.
You will, of course, need to know how to interpret the graph. Values to the north and east are good for the pitcher, as it means he throws the pitch often and succeeds. Values to the south and east indicate that the pitcher throws the pitch often and gets hit around. As you go west, the data becomes more insignificant because the pitches are thrown less and less, meaning A) there’s a small sample size and B) that the pitcher doesn’t throw the pitch often enough for it to have a noticeable effect on his performance.
Due to the uncertainty of the rotations, I will simply present the graphs by team. Note that the acronym”RAA/C” stands for “runs above average per 100 pitches”. As an example, C.C. Sabathia’s fastball has a RAA/C value of 0.64, which means that for every 100 fastballs he throws, they are worth (you can think in terms of prevention as well, since he is a pitcher) 0.64 runs above average.
The obvious caveat here is that the graphs don’t account for the Nash Equilibrium, or in other words, pitch sequencing. While Pedro Martinez has a change-up that has been below-average, it in all likelihood increases the value of his fastball enough to make the trade-off beneficial. Exactly how much is near impossible to quantify. But this is just to say that the following charts merely give a general idea as to what the pitchers throw and how effectively they throw it.
To enhance the quality of the graph, I suggest opening it in a new window, which you can do by clicking on it.
New York Yankees
- Cliff Lee and J.A. Happ have the most effective fastballs on the Phillies’ staff and they rely heavily on them
- Although by itself Pedro Martinez’s change-up has not been an effective pitch, it is the only thing keeping his fastballs from being Adam Eatoned
- Cole Hamels’ chart essentially shows what Matt Swartz argued at Baseball Prospectus, which is that Hamels isn’t nearly as bad as he has shown
- Joe Blanton potentially starting is a thought that makes me increasingly nervous
- All three of C.C. Sabathia’s pitches are above-average — wow!
- A.J. Burnett’s curve is as good as advertised
- One of the more intriguing Andy Pettitte match-ups has to be his cut fastball against right-hander Jayson Werth, who can pull his hands in and get around on the cutter better than most RH batters
- The Phillies should be licking their chops at the prospect of facing Chad Gaudin, as the Yankees should for Joe Blanton