Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Kendrick left out to dry in Phillies loss
One of the greatest improvements Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick made from 2010 to 2011 was his effectiveness against left-handed batters. As a right-handed pitcher, it was an issue for him in 2010 as they hit .312 with a .902 OPS and strikeout rate of just under 10 percent. In 2011, those numbers improved to .234 BA, .763 OPS and a 13.0 percent strikeout rate. And entering Monday, his 2012 performance against left-handers had continued to improve, with a .200 BA, .585 OPS and a strikeout rate north of 15 percent. And then the Arizona Diamondbacks came along.
Monday's action stopped Kendrick's improving trend right in its tracks. The Diamondbacks may have been aware of the trends, but they may have been paying attention to a different one - in four career appearances against Arizona, Kendrick had allowed a line of .357/.379/.607 (BA/OBP/SLG) to left-handed hitters, compared to a .234/.333/.404 line against right-handers. On Monday, left-handed batters registered four hits in eight at-bats against Kendrick, including two extra-base hits.
It becomes additionally painful when one considers who was supposed to start Monday's game - Cliff Lee. Not only has Lee held Diamondbacks lefties to a .229/.222/.314 line in his career, very few pitchers have been tougher on lefties overall since Lee came to the National League - he ranks fourth among starters in opponents batting average (.191) and second in OPS (.501).
For some historical perspective on just how ineffective Kendrick's start was, consider that he became the first Phillies starter to allow 10 or more hits and and seven or more earned runs in three or fewer innings pitched since Mike Mimbs did so on May 11, 1996. In fact, it's only the fourth time it's been done since 1980.
Sabathia leaning on slider: CC Sabathia's slider was effective on Monday against the Texas Rangers – he threw it to register six of his eight strikeouts. Sabathia threw a total of 34 sliders, increasing the number of times he's used the pitch for the third consecutive start. It also continues a multi-year trend of increased slider usage; Sabathia threw it 12.9 percent of the time in 2010, 22.9 percent last season and 27.3 percent this season. The merits of such an increase can be debated, but what cannot be is the effectiveness it has had this season – only one qualified starting pitcher has a higher strikeout rate with the slider than Sabathia (Jered Weaver).
Lincecum velocity issues remain: Tim Lincecum’s season-long struggles with his fastball continued in the win over the New York Mets. His average velocity on the pitch continues to drop, going under 90 MPH for the first time since July 2010. Despite the issues with his fastball velocity, Lincecum threw it 70 times, which is 21 more than he used it in his previous 2012 high.
Overall, his average fastball velocity now stands at 90.1 this season, compared to 92.2 last season. He has yet to hit above 93.1 miles per hour this season, whereas he topped out at 96.6 last season.