Anderson looks to break down Tigers
October, 9, 2012
By Mark Simon | ESPN.com
Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty ImagesBrett Anderson will try to keep the Athletics season alive on Tuesday.The Bay Area teams are hanging by a thread, each down two-games-to-none heading into Tuesday’s games against the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds.
Brett Anderson and Ryan Vogelsong will be charged with the responsibility of keeping their teams alive.
Anderson is a bit of a question mark after returning from a strained oblique.
Vogelsong is one as well because of the struggles he went through late in the season.
Let’s take a closer look at a key for each pitcher heading into Tuesday’s matchups.
Anderson’s key: Breaking balls
One of the reasons that Brett Anderson pitched so well after his return was that his breaking ball was at the form that made him successful in previous seasons.
In his first four starts, Anderson got 38 outs with his breaking ball and allowed only seven baserunners with the pitch. He’s throwing it 44 percent of the time, so the Tigers figure to see it a lot.
In 2010, when Anderson had a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts, his rate of outs to baserunners with the breaking ball was about 4.2-to-1.
Anderson had a few issues with his breaking ball against the Angels on September 13, allowing five hits, including two doubles, with it. The Tigers got a pair of hits against it in his most recent start on September 18, though both were bunts.
What the Tigers didn’t see was Anderson’s putaway pitch -- his 82 to 84 mile-per-hour offering that most resembles a slider.
When that pitch has a break on it that drops knee-high to Anderson’s glove side, it’s almost impossible to hit.
Anderson has thrown such a pitch in the 82-to-84 mph range to his glove side 72 times in six games. He’s gotten 20 outs (including 14 strikeouts) and allowed just three baserunners with it.
Vogelsong’s key: His fellow Ryans
Ryan Vogelsong pitched well in his last three starts of the regular season, but he’ll be pitching in a tough spot -- with his team facing elimination in a big-time hitter’s ballpark.
Two of the players who were big factors in Game 2 were also named Ryan -- Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick and catcher Ryan Hanigan.
Ludwick is 2-for-6 with a home run and a pair of walks in this series. He homered in Game 2 against Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher against whom he was 1-for-16 in his career.
Ludwick is 4-for-5 with a walk against Vogelsong, with a hit against Vogelsong’s fastball, changeup, curveball and cutter.
The Giants have pitched Ludwick almost exclusively to the outer half of the plate (and off the outside corner) in this series and you can expect that to continue.
Ludwick hit .333 and missed on 18 percent of his swings against inner-half pitches from right-handers this season. He hit .246 and missed on 33 percent of his swings on the outer-half (or further away).
Hanigan, who had three RBI in the Game 2 win, can also expect a lot of outer-half pitches.
His split is .289 with a miss rate of only seven percent against inner-half pitches and .225 with a 15 percent miss rate against outer-half pitches.
Hanigan has been able to find holes on ground balls this postseason. He’s 3-for-4 when hitting a grounder after closing the season by making outs on 15 of the last 16 grounders he hit.
Vogelsong does have one stat going for him in his quest to get both of these hitters out. A key to his return to form is that he’s held right-handed hitters to two hits (and no walks) in their last 26 at-bats against him.