World Series Game 3 in Philadelphia will feature a match-up between two southpaws, Cole Hamels and Andy Pettitte. A fair assessment of the pitchers reveals that Hamels has been much better than his statistics have shown and Pettitte has been slightly better, as the two have an xFIP (per The Hardball Times) of 3.75 and 4.59 compared to ERA’s of 4.32 and 4.94 respectively.
If I were to check out BetUS sports betting, I would smile at the -175 line the Yankees currently are enjoying, as the two pitchers are quite similar with their batted ball distributions:
We know what Cole Hamels has to offer: 60% fastballs, 30% change-ups, 10% curve balls.
What should we expect from Andy Pettitte? His post-season trend says we should expect about two out of every five pitches (40%) to be four- and two-seam fastballs. Other than that, we don’t really know as Pettitte has changed his pitch selection from game to game. We can expect anywhere from 40-60% sliders and cutters, and selective use of the cut fastball and change-up.
Pettitte’s curve, and cutter have been his most effective pitches with RAA/100 averages of 1.08, and 2.50 respectively. His fastball has been slightly below average at -0.34 and his change-up has been ineffective at -1.53.
Andy does not have a significant platoon split: lefties have hit him slightly better than right-handers, .717 to .730 in terms of OPS this season. Over his career, that split is .728 to .711 in favor of right-handers.
Expectedly, as Pettitte has grown older, he has become more hittable. Since 2005, hitters have been swinging less and less at pitches Pettitte throws in the strike zone, yet their contact on pitches in the zone have hovered in the 90% range, the highest in Pettitte’s career dating back to 2002, as far back as the data goes. Coupled with that is a career low percentage of pitches thrown in the strike zone, 45.6% compared to his average 52%.
The Phillies are one of the best teams at being disciplined at the plate. Five of the eight regulars had walk rates at 10% or higher according to FanGraphs.
If the Phillies approach Pettitte the way they approached C.C. Sabathia — work counts and force him to throw fastballs — there should be no problem despite Andy’s post-season history. By the way, don’t sleep on Ryan Howard, who struck out four times in four at-bats in Game 2, with the left-on-left match-up: he loves him some sliders.