Saturday, August 24, 2013
Saturday storylines: Scherzer vs. Harvey
By Mark Simon
Saturday brings with it one of the most compelling pitching matchups of the season and the first regular-season rematch of two All-Star Game starting pitchers with Matt Harvey facing Tigers starter Max Scherzer.
Here are a few of the statistical storylines tied to this contest.
The unsupported ace
The Mets are 13-12 in Matt Harvey's 25 starts this season, and remember that they won the first five starts of the year.
Harvey is 4-4 with eight no-decisions in his last 16 starts, despite a 2.67 ERA, a 119-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio and four homers allowed in 108 innings pitched. The Mets are 6-10 in those 16 starts.
The Mets have scored 95 runs in Harvey's 25 starts. By comparison: The Tigers have scored 151 runs in Max Scherzer's 25 starts.
Matchup to Watch: Harvey vs Cabrera
Matt Harvey retired Miguel Cabrera in the All-Star Game, but getting him multiple times will be a challenge.
Cabrera will have no fear of Harvey's heater. He's 13-for-39 with four home runs in at-bats ending with pitches 95 mph or faster against right-handed pitchers.
Two of those homers came this month, the last a walk-off homer on August 17 against the Kansas City Royals and Aaron Crow, the other a go-ahead eighth-inning homer against the Cleveland Indians and rookie pitcher Danny Salazar, who had struck out Cabrera twice earlier in the game.
Against pitchers with comparable velocities and pitch selection, he was 1-for-4 against both Stephen Strasburg and Yu Darvish earlier this season
Harvey's best shot, as we noted Friday, will be to keep the ball down-and-away from Cabrera. Daisuke Matsuzaka paid the price when he threw Cabrera a high fastball and Cabrera parked it for a three-run homer, one that allowed him to pass Joe DiMaggio on the career home run list.
The Stats & Info blog has noted Cabrera's prowess against first pitches this season and Cabrera added two hits against them yesterday. He's now 41-for-83 in the first pitch of an at-bat this season with 14 home runs. Harvey has not allowed a first-pitch homer this season.
Mets vs Max
Scherzer is 18-1 this season with a 2.82 ERA and 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts since suffering his only loss of the season.
Elias notes that Scherzer can become the third pitcher to win 19 of his first 20 decisions in a season, joining two New York-based pitchers- Hall-of-Famer Rube Marquard for the 1912 Giants and Roger Clemens for the 2001 Yankees.
Scherzer's success is attributable not just to run support, but to becoming more of a four-pitch pitcher who is less reliant on his fastball (a pitch he threw 62 percent of the time from 2010 to 2012, but only 55 percent in 2013).
Scherzer's breaking pitches have been nasty this season. He's getting five outs with his curve and slider for every baserunner he yields with them. Over the previous three seasons, his ratio of outs to baserunners with those two pitches was about 3-to-1.