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Sunday, July 29, 2012
Doubront hopes to stay ahead of the curve


Even with Jon Lester’s win on Saturday against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox still are 10 games under .500 (14-24) in games started this season by Lester and Josh Beckett, 36-27 in all other games.

On Sunday (8 ET on ESPN), left-hander Felix Doubront gets the start for Boston. At 10-5, Doubront has as many wins as Becket and Lester combined (10-17).

In Doubront’s 19 starts this season, the Red Sox are 13-6. One reason for that is that Boston has scored a lot of runs; Doubront's run support of 6.5 ranks second only to Jered Weaver (6.6) among qualified starting pitchers.

Although Doubront struggled in his last start, a 9-1 loss at Texas, he has pitched well on the road: 3.83 ERA with an opponent batting average of .236. At Fenway Park, Doubront’s ERA is 5.20 with a .283 opponent batting average.

As is the case with most pitchers, Doubront’s been at his best when he’s ahead in the count (see chart). His best pitch has been his curveball. Opponents are hitting .127 against his curve, that’s the second-lowest average among qualified American League pitchers behind Justin Verlander (.124). Doubront’s 48.2 strikeout percentage with his hook ranks third in all of baseball among qualifiers.

Teams have taken advantage of Doubront when they’ve been able to get on base. With the bases empty, Doubront’s opponent batting average is .247; however, with runners on it jumps to .279, and .327 with runners in scoring position.

Doubront will face Hiroki Kuroda, who has won his last four decisions. The Yankees have won each of Kuroda’s last six starts and are 8-2 since June with Kuroda on the mound.

In fact, Kuroda has lost only once in his last 11 starts, lowering his ERA from 4.56 to 3.34. His effectiveness can be attributed to the fact that he's keeping the ball in the park. After allowing 10 home runs in his first nine starts, Kuroda has allowed only five HR in his last 11.