Southpaws Gone Fishin’

The top of the Phillies lineup went 1-for-14. One for fourteen.

Aside from Jayson Werth, the Phillies offense couldn’t figure out Andy Pettitte after the second inning, as he kept the Fightins’ left-handed hitters silent and collectively 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts. Cole Hamels, meanwhile, failed to get back on the post-season success wagon as he failed to leave the fifth inning.

Cole Hamels was victimized by himself once again. He poorly located his curve balls, as not one curve ball was thrown below the knees of a Yankees hitter, four were in the strike zone, and two went for Yankees hits: a double by Nick Swisher and a single by Pettitte.

The bullpen wasn’t much help as every Phillies reliever except Ryan Madson gave up a run. The Yankees’ bullpen threw three scoreless innings in relief of Pettitte, who won his 17th career post-season game, adding to his all-time record.

Manager Joe Girardi was mindful of platoon match-ups: Chase Utley and Matt Stairs were the only Phillies lefty hitters to face right-handed pitching, and they only got one plate appearance each at that. This is a far cry from the way Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre chose to approach the middle of the Phillies’ lineup in previous post-season series.

Have a look at how each pitcher chose to attack the strike zone:

Very rarely did Pettitte throw to the left side of the plate (from the hitter’s perspective) with anything other than sliders. His fastballs were mostly on the right side and, unlike Hamels, was able to keep his fastball low and mostly out of the strike zone.

In the regular season, lefties hit for a .730 OPS against him and right-handers .717. As mentioned, the lefties were silent; right-hander Jayson Werth hit two solo home runs, Pedro Feliz doubled, and Jimmy Rollins (batting right) singled.

Hamels was all over the place with his fastball and used his curve ball very ineffectively. That he only threw four pitches below the knees is troubling — it is not a great way to approach the Yankees’ lineup.

This is a comparison of the pitch selection for the two starters:

Hamels stuck to his 60/30/10 distribution of fastball, change-up, and curve. Pettitte seemed to go back to the plan of attack from Game 3 of the ALCS with a reliance on sliders and used his cut fastball a lot more than usual.

I implore Phillies fans not to give up on Cole Hamels. Do not go Donovan McNabb on the kid. Cole Hamels is fine. Be patient.

Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.

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17 comments

  1. Matt

    November 01, 2009 12:19 AM

    I don’t understand why Hamels was even throwing his curve when everything else was working for him. It seems like the Phillies belief that he needs the Curve to be effective kept him from being effective tonight!

  2. Bill Baer

    November 01, 2009 12:24 AM

    Matt, he really does need a third pitch, but he just doesn’t use that curve ball effectively. Very few pitchers throw three pitches at an above-average level, but good two-pitch pitchers can leverage their subpar pitch(es) so that it doesn’t hurt them.

    If you read the intro on this Wiki on the Nash Equilibrium, it is easy to see why more pitches = more effective. His curveballs should be thrown every once in a while as a “show me” pitch, never in the strike zone.

    The curve to Pettitte was especially troubling. He’s an American League pitcher who probably hasn’t seen a 90 MPH fastball coming his way in a while, and nor does he see 90 MPH fastballs often. Just pump fastballs. Case in point: Pettitte vs. Happ’s fastball.

  3. BS

    November 01, 2009 12:26 AM

    I would hope Phils fans don’t lump Cole in with McNabb. Cole’s proven himself. But there comes a time where you have to throw all the peripherals aside and admit that this is just not Cole’s year. Whether it’s a mix of bad luck like cameras in the field of play, bloop hits, or mental issues, it’s just not working out. In retrospect it may have been better to have him go game 2, and go with Pedro in game 3, if only because it would set us up for the 7th game better.

  4. Joel Banner

    November 01, 2009 12:38 AM

    Pettite is a pro and knows how to work through adversity. 17 Post Season wins, he is a lucky charm for the Yankees.

  5. e

    November 01, 2009 12:54 AM

    petttitte is incredibly average and over-the-top overrated.

    hamels needs a cutter or slider.

  6. Dave Miller

    November 01, 2009 01:02 AM

    Pettitte showed why he has been so successful. He had nothing today. It probably should have been a Phillies blowout. But he battled. He was smart. He made some big pitches and he won a game when he didn’t have the stuff to dominate.

    Having great stuff isn’t everything.

  7. zambonirodeo

    November 01, 2009 01:15 AM

    Giving up on Cole Hamels would be insane. But thinking Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ could pitch better than him for 8 or 10 innings over a one week period, based on the entire season and the past three weeks, doesn’t seem so crazy, peripherals or no peripherals.

    I know you can’t measure focus either, but if I was burning a roast chicken right now the smoke alarm and smell might cause me to make a typo, to distract me, and it certainly *appears* that Cole is unable to keep himself in the moment, thinking only about making the right decision and the right execution with his next pitch, once these bad innings get started.

    Putting aside the “luck” of his overall performance, each of his starts have certainly seemed to have a hex on them – one day it’s the baby, the next day it’s the Rollins/Utley failed DP/error, and now the review-required HR.

  8. entersandman

    November 01, 2009 10:08 AM

    Hey “e”…….nobody is calling pettitte a hall of famer. In order to be overrated as you say, pettitte would have to be thought of as great and that’s not the case. He is a solid #3 guy in the rotation. If you’re going to dispute that than you are not thinking with your basball knowledge but thinking as either a Phillies fan, Mets fan or Yankees hater.

  9. entersandman

    November 01, 2009 10:11 AM

    I agree with you Matt, Hamels didn’t seem to need his curveball to be effective but all of a sudden he starts throwing it and not being able to locate it at all. Maybe the pitching coach should’ve talked him into sticking with what was working for him over the first 3 innings.

  10. Rob A from BBD

    November 01, 2009 12:42 PM

    Hamels had a tough time getting pitches down. I’m really happy he’s pitching game 7.

  11. e

    November 01, 2009 12:51 PM

    I think a lot of people believe pettitte is a “big time playoff pitcher”.”stopper”, “bulldog” for all the money he’s made in his career, and his numbers, and i’ll take the overrated angle, thanks.he’s quite average.

  12. Matt

    November 01, 2009 04:26 PM

    I agree that we cannot turn on Cole here. He is still a young guy, and I think he knows he’s got some work to do to become an elite pitcher. He probably doesn’t help himself with some of his curious statements to the press, but that’s similar to what McNabb has done also to tick off fans from time to time.

  13. Dave Miller

    November 02, 2009 01:14 AM

    e,

    I’m a Yankees fan and I will take an “average” outing from Andy Pettitte time after time.

  14. Tom

    November 02, 2009 01:44 PM

    I also thought Petite’s ability to weather a storm turned the game and–so far–the series. He’s not a great pitcher, but he’s a very good winner. Winning when things go against you is often a matter of staying cool, continuing to try, and hoping you get lucky, and I was impressed at how well he did that–not to mention how lucky he ended up getting.

  15. Dave Miller

    November 05, 2009 12:39 AM

    After tonight, e’s comment above looks even sillier.

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