Much like with the first series against the Orioles I wanted to use Pitch F/x data to take a look at how our batters and pitchers performed over the series. Again, this is strictly evaluative and completely comprised of small samples. This is a look back, not forward, and hardly definitive in either case. Still, I find it fun and better than useless to look at this stuff. Let’s start with the pitchers:
The starters were Alex Cobb, David Price, and Matt Moore, though not in that order. Cobb faced a lineup that was stacked with lefties as only 23% of his pitches were against same-handers to whom he was fastball-heavy while still mixing up his secondary stuff some. Price saw even fewer same-handers as only around 20% of his pitches were to fellow southpaws. He threw nearly all fastballs against his brethren, but had the type of pitch mix you like to see out of him versus the right-handers. Though Moore is also a lefty he threw 38% of his pitches to lefties. He’s mostly fastball/breaking ball against them, but against righties he went to the change almost a quarter of the time while still throwing a lot of breaking balls. Those that saw his start saw peak Matt Moore so hopefully he can continue with this process and the result should follow more often than not. In the event that you didn’t see this start peep this.
Moving on to the pen we see that Gomes and Ramos led all relievers in pitches thrown. Not shabby for the two guys that came over in the Jason Bartlett trade that have seen some time in the bigs. You can draw your own inferences on what this says about the leverage of their appearances when you see them leading the way, though it’s nice to see both getting burn against righties and lefties. Joel Peralta also threw 20 pitches though he didn’t see a same-hander. Note that I am now classifying Joey Pine Tar’s splitter as a change to separate it out from his straighter fastballs. Gomes still isn’t throwing a change, though he has no problem leaning on his breaking ball while Ramos will flash the change, usually more often than in this series. Let’s move on to run values:
A lot to like here. You can really see how Matty Moore’s start stands out from the others, except for the fact that Alex Cobb was right there with him. Cobb owned lefties off the back of his fastball and breaking ball and his fastball was also really good against righties. Moore, on the other hand, owned righties. All three of his pitches were achieving very strong success. Hopefully he can stick with a similar mix in the future as all three were owning righties. He didn’t have quite the same success against lefties, and that’s actually not all that new. He’s had a bit of a reverse platoon split, in that, his wOBA against both righties and lefties is pretty close where most lefties see a wider split. My pet theory is that he struggles to pitch inside to same-handers because he gets so much run on his fastball and curve ball that he runs the risk of either hitting a guy or leaving it over the plate. Once he can throw these two pitches to lefties with courage and conviction he’s going to be a complete pitcher.
Then we get to David Price. Once again batters of all types feasted on his fastball. That shouldn’t be the case, but the velocity is down slightly from this time last year and he has had noticeable trouble getting borderline calls, thus far. The best way to get those calls is to make them less borderline. His change was pretty solid to righties, but without the other stuff even this silver lining does not elicit many smiles.
Back to the relievers focusing first on Gomes and Ramos again. Gomes has a really good slider that he can throw to both righties and lefties, and though his velocity is fine enough on the heater it’s a bit of a straight pitch. For Gomes to have success he has to steal strikes early to get ahead of batters then he can do whatever he wants. Cesar’s best pitch this series was his fastball to both righties and lefties. That’s a nice sight as getting his fastball by righties means he should get more chances rather than just being pigeon-holed as a LOOGY. Peralta also saw some success as did a few of the other guys, but it’s apparent just how bad Rodney and Farnsworth were this series, though most of that damage was done today (Sunday) when it seemed like the team had Texas on their mind, already. Rodney particularly struggled with lefties while Farnsworth struggled with everybody, but these are basically singular data points so don’t flip out, man. How about the batters:
How weird is that the Rays didn’t face a single pitch from a southpaw this series. This seems like a roster construction thing with the Indians, and lefty Scott Kazmir was scratched from his Saturday start, but I can’t remember a series where they didn’t face at least one lefty. Something I’ve come to grips with over the last few weeks is that the Roberts/Rodriguez playing time cannot overcome the redundancy in the players. Towards the end of spring training it had become apparent that there was no place on this team for Ryan Roberts outside of call up if/when Longo gets hurt, but with both on the roster it’s a waste of a spot. Granted, the team didn’t face a lefty when they both should be in the lineup, but over 3 games they saw a combined six pitches. That’s a waste and when Scott comes back I think it’s likely something happens with these two unless Shelley Duncan gets drunk and stabs a guy between now and then. /rant
Zobrist continued to get mad respect as pitchers do not want to throw him a fastball if they can help it and you can see the same with Shelley “Fastball Smashing Machine” Duncan who only saw five fastballs on 16 pitches. Longoria is more or less in that boat seeing 41% breaking balls. Kevin Gengler had a really nice piece about what is currently vexing Wil Myers and this is why it’s important to close that gap even a little, because you get up here and if that’s your weakness pitchers will have no problem feeding you that all day. If you’re of the opinion that a lack of fastballs is a sign of respect, then I’m sure you also believe the vice-versa and what do you think that then says about what pitchers think of Jose Molina, Sam Fuld, and Sean Rodriguez? Let’s scoot over to the run values:
Loooooooottttta not good on here. It was a good thing that Moore and Cobb locked it down, because it helps gloss over what was mostly a lackluster weekend for the offense. Zobrist continued his hot start as the best bat in the lineup for the second straight series. Shelley Duncan had some success against the paucity of fastballs that he did see, but other than that it’s mostly guys below league average. Longo was basically average and for the second straight series Lobaton was somewhat of a bright spot, but other than those guys you’re having to isolate individual pitches to find bright spots. For instance, James Loney tattooed some fastballs which is nice, but he showed that the breaking ball can still hurt him, even against righties. Jennings hit the change up better this series, but struggled with the fastball. Both Fuld and Joyce saw all righties all series, but weren’t able to capitalize as both looked bad and the numbers bare that out. Yunel Escobar didn’t have a good series, but hopefully he can give us a more modern Bartlett that makes hay against lefties and plays a solid to better shortstop.
The Rays took this series to even their overall record at 3-3, but it doesn’t get any easier and this was a series you would have liked to see them sweet after shutting out the Indians Friday and Saturday and then handing the ball to their Cy Young winnings ace on Sunday. Still, plenty of bright spots and you can see Joe Maddon still priming the pump a bit to see what’s going to work. Once he has a better idea of what he needs to hide and what he can show off then this team is really going to hit it’s stride. Hopefully sooner rather than later.