Wednesday, August 7, 2013
5 stats to know: Dodgers at Cardinals
By Katie Sharp, ESPN Stats & Info
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Shelby Miller's fastball is a strikeout weapon and he'll use it against the Dodgers tonight.
The Los Angeles Dodgers had their franchise-record 15-game road win streak snapped on Tuesday. Tonight, the Dodgers will look to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since June 20-21 as they face the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN).
Here are five statistical notes to know going into tonight’s "Wednesday Night Baseball."
1. The Dodgers are one of nine teams since the World Series began in 1903 to win at least 15 straight road games in a single season. But that hasn’t always meant sustained success.
Only two of the previous eight teams went on to win the World Series, and five didn’t even make the Fall Classic. Who were the two teams to win the title? The 1984 Tigers and 1953 Yankees.
2. This is the last leg of a 15-game stretch for the Cardinals versus the four other NL playoff teams (if the season ended today): Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and the Dodgers.
The Cardinals lead the league by a wide margin in batting average with runners in scoring position, hitting .337. Assuming the other teams’ batting averages do not change, they could go hitless in their next 140 at bats with RISP and still lead MLB.
3. Ricky Nolasco makes his sixth start for the Dodgers since being traded to the team in July. He is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA for Los Angeles, with the team winning four of his five starts.
Nolasco's ERA has fallen more than half a run from last year (4.48 in 2012, 3.78 in 2013), and one of the biggest improvements has been in his strikeout rate, which has increased from 5.9 K per 9 IP to 7.2 K per 9 IP. How has he been able to increase his strikeouts so much?
He is going to his slider more this year with two strikes.
Nolasco has 59 strikeouts with his slider, fifth-most among NL pitchers. The pitch has been especially effective for him against lefties, where he is making them miss 36 percent of the time on that pitch this season, compared to 22 percent in 2012.
4. Shelby Miller will take the mound for the Cardinals. Miller earned his first career win against the Dodgers on Sept. 16, 2012, at Dodger Stadium, pitching one inning of scoreless relief in the Cardinals' 5-2 win.
Miller’s fastball has been a strikeout weapon. He throws the pitch 73.8 percent of the time, the second-highest fastball usage among MLB starters behind Bartolo Colon (84.5 percent). No pitcher has more strikeouts with his fastball than Miller this season (102).
5. There’s no doubt that Yasiel Puig has made quite an impression over his first two months. Since his debut June 3, he ranks first or second in five major offensive categories.
But how do you get him out?
For one, DO NOT throw him fastballs. He is hitting .385 versus fastballs this season, and that includes a .425 batting average versus fastballs of 93-plus mph.