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Cliff Lee's Game One

On October 6, Cliff Lee pitched 7 great innings against the Tampa Bay Rays earning the Texas Rangers a win in Game 1 of the ALDS.  He struck out 10, walked 1, and yielded one run on a HR to Ben Zobrist.  He held Rays batters to a .185/.185/.333 line and a .261 wOBA (when factoring in SB/CS weights).

Cliff Lee's Pitch Frequency to Lefties in Game OneCliff Lee's Pitch Frequency to Righties in Game One

 While the numbers indicate that Lee dominated Rays hitters, Tampa Bay did have a few chances to put more runs on the board.  In the first inning, the Rays had the bases loaded with one out before Lee struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.  In fact, Lee managed to strike out 5 batters in the 7 PAs in which he faced runners in scoring position.

Rays batters also squared up Lee's fastball fairly well, scattering five line drives throughout the game.  Fortunately for Lee, 4 of those 5 line drives were caught for outs.  In 2010, Lee had a LD% of 16.5%, slightly below his career rate of 19%.  In Game One, those 5 line drives resulted in a LD rate of 24.5%.  Small sample size, of course, but Lee certainly benefited from a slightly lower than average BAbip (.250) in the first game of the series.  Should the Rays hitters manage to cut down on their strike outs in Game 5, a correction in BAbip may result in increased scoring opportunities against Lee.


Phil Hughes at Home

It’s no secret that New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes has performed far worse at home this season. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be making his first postseason start at Yankee Stadium on Saturday in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins.

Home 4.66 5.18 4.20 7.03
Away 3.47 3.14 2.89 8.10

As you can see, Hughes has underperformed his FIP on the road this season while outperforming it at home, although the differences aren’t terribly large. He’s also seen a drop in his strike out rate at home accompanied by a slight uptick in his walk rate.

Hughes has held batters to a noticeably lower line on the road.
Home .248 .312 .443 .262 .329
Away .238 .288 .336 .293 .278

The most glaring difference is the 107 point jump in SLG% at home. Hughes has yielded 20 HRs at home this season compared to just 5 on the road. While it would be easy to attribute Hughes’ poor home stats to Yankee Stadium’s dimensions, there are probably a number of other issues factoring in to the problem. However, the rest of his line is not all that worse at home outside of SLG%. In fact, his relatively low BAbip at home further suggests that HRs have been his biggest problem, as his BA and OBP against are only slightly inflated at Yankee Stadium. Keeping the ball in the yard will be priority number one for Hughes this Saturday to say the least.

Buster Posey vs. Lowe's Sinker

Entering last night's game Buster Posey was one of MLB's top performers when facing the sinker ball. Of course it's no surprise Lowe relies on his sinker to get outs.

Derek Lowe's Pitch Log for Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS

Below you will find a heat map representation of Posey's SLG% against the sinker compared to the rest of Major League Baseball in 2010. When facing the sinker he is second in the league with a .775 SLG%. Only Paul Konerko has a higher SLG% when facing the sinker (.962). We should also note that Posey's AVG when facing the slider is .400 (6th in all MLB). 

2010 In Play SLG% vs. sinker: Buster Posey vs MLB

Meanwhile Posey struggles against the slider. Versus the slider in 2010 Posey has a SLG% of .397 (63rd percentile across MLB) and a AVG of .219. 

2010 In Play SLG% vs. slider: Buster Posey vs. MLB

All that said Derek Lowe still threw approximately the same number of sliders and sinkers to Posey (5 sinkers, 6 Sliders). Posey rarely swings at the first pitch resulting in  two first pitch sinkers for called strikes. 

Here is a pitch by pitch breakdown of Posey's plate appearances versus Derek Lowe last night:

  • Buster Posey grounds into a force out, third baseman Omar Infante to second baseman Brooks Conrad. Aubrey Huff out at 2nd.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 1, 2 out, Man on First, tied 0-0
    • 0-0 - Strike Looking on a 89 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
    • 0-1 - Ball on a 82 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 81 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 2-1 - Ground Ball Fielders Choice on a 90 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
  • Buster Posey singles on a ground ball to left fielder Matt Diaz.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 4, 0 out, Bases Empty, tied 0-0
    • 0-0 - Ball on a 82 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 1-0 - Strike Swinging on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 79 MPH Slider - Low
    • 2-1 - Ground Ball Single on a 89 MPH Sinker - Over the Plate
  • Buster Posey doubles (1) on a fly ball to center fielder Rick Ankiel. Buster Posey advances to 3rd, on fielding error by center fielder Rick Ankiel.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 6, 0 out, Bases Empty, trailing 0-1
    • 0-0 - Strike Looking on a 90 MPH Sinker - Low
    • 0-1 - Ball on a 83 MPH Changeup - Low
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 84 MPH Sinker - Low
    • 2-1 - Fly Ball Double on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
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