Stats & Info: Octavio Dotel

Top stats to know: Pirates vs Cardinals

October, 3, 2013

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesA.J. Burnett will try and pitch the Pirates to their first road playoff win since 1992.
Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals begins today from Busch Stadium (5:07 ET/ESPN Radio). This will be the first time these teams are meeting in the postseason.

Pittsburgh won the regular season series 10-9, but the Cardinals have won each of the last four meetings. Here are a few storylines to watch.

1. St. Louis finished the regular season by winning 17 of 22, including each of their last six games. The 53 home wins set a Busch Stadium III record, besting the 52 games they won in 2010.

For the Pirates, they won eight of their last nine road games but have lost four straight and five of their last six at St. Louis. The Pirates have not won a postseason road game since October 13, 1992 (the last time they were in the playoffs).

2. A.J. Burnett has relied on his curveball as an out-pitch more than any other pitcher this season, but that doesn’t mean that batters have been able to figure it out.

He has more strikeouts (134), chased pitches (270) and swings-and-misses (232) with his hook than any other major-leaguer and only five pitchers have allowed a lower slugging percentage on their curveball than Burnett (min. 300 pitches).

He has thrown 176 curves to the Cardinals this season, and only 26 were put in play. Those pitches netted him 46 outs – 24 of them via strike three – and just nine baserunners allowed.

3. Similarly, Adam Wainwright is very reliant on his curveball. His 115 strikeouts with his curve this season were topped only by Burnett.

Wainwright has made four postseason starts in his career and allowed only one run in three of the four (though he only pitched 5⅔ innings in one of those). He has 42 strikeouts in 32⅔ postseason innings.

Wainwright’s 11.6 strikeouts per 9 in postseason play ranks third-best among active pitchers (minimum 20 innings pitched), trailing only Octavio Dotel (12.7) and Francisco Rodriguez (12.0).

4. The Pirates and Cardinals have played 2,328 regular season games, tied for the third most games played between two teams that have never met in the postseason (Cubs and Phillies have also played 2,328 games).

The Cubs and Pirates have played the most regular season games (2,420) without meeting in the postseason while the Dodgers and Giants have the second most (2,392).

Of course it was not possible for these teams to meet in the playoffs prior to the Wild Card era (since 1995) since they were in the same division.

5. Key matchups to watch in this game:

Russell Martin vs. Adam Wainwright: Martin is 10-for-25 with a .500 on-base percentage in 30 plate appearances against Wainwright. He’s only 1-for-6 against Wainwright this season, but has also drawn a pair of walks.

Carlos Beltran vs. A.J. Burnett: Beltran is a .318 career hitter against Burnett and has done a lot of damage against him the last two years, with 10 RBI in 23 at-bats. Beltran has ended 18 at-bats against Burnett with contact since the start of last season. Six of those ended with a line drive.

Bullpens in focus, ready for World Series

October, 19, 2011

US Presswire
Jason Motte and Neftali Feliz have led the dominant 'pens of St. Louis and Texas this postseason.

Last year, the San Francisco Giants rode the arms of their dominant starting pitchers to their first World Series title in more than 50 years.

This year, the team with the league’s best rotation -- the Philadelphia Phillies -- was knocked out in the first round. The two teams that eventually advanced to the Fall Classic have done so largely on the strength of shutdown bullpens.

The Texas Rangers starters (5.62 ERA) and the St. Louis Cardinals starters (5.43 ERA) have combined for a 5.52 ERA this postseason. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, their combined postseason ERA so far is the highest ever by the two teams playing in the World Series.

As the starters have routinely failed, the bullpens have picked up the slack. Among all teams, relievers have pitched 226 innings, the most since an MLB-record 273 in 2004, and won 12 games, just three shy of the record set in 2003.

In the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals joined the 1979 Pirates as the only teams to win a best-of-seven series by getting more outs from their relievers than their starters, according to Elias.

Not only have the bullpens been relied on like never before, but they have also dominated opposing hitters. There have been only two blown saves this postseason, and the Rangers and Cardinals both own bullpen WHIPs under 1.00.

Let’s use heat maps to introduce you to three of the many relief pitchers you’ll likely see put to significant use in the World Series.

Jason Motte
Motte has put together a dominant postseason, as opponents are 1-for-25 against him in eight innings. He throws a 98 mph fastball that hitters have had trouble catching up to. Motte has seven strikeouts, all but one of which have come on high fastballs. This includes the heater that Mark Kotsay swung through for the final out of the NLCS.

Jason Motte’s strikeouts in this postseason
Click here to create your own Motte heat maps

Octavio Dotel
Dotel was a trade-deadline pickup for the Cardinals. Right-handed hitters are 10-for-73 against Dotel since he joined the team, including 2-for-19 in the playoffs.

He has succeeded at keeping the ball away from righties. Of the 72 pitches he’s thrown to them this postseason, 63 percent have been on the outer third of the plate or further away. Of the 12 at-bats ending on pitches away to righties, six have been strikeouts.

Primary location of Octavio Dotel’s pitches to right-handed hitters this postseason
Click here to create your own Dotel heat maps

Alexi Ogando
Ogando has been a valuable setup man for Neftali Feliz, converting back to the bullpen from the starting rotation after pitching in relief last season. He has an 0.87 ERA in 10 ⅓ postseason innings.

Right-handed hitters have seen Ogando’s slider frequently. He’s thrown 85 pitches to righties, with 40 being sliders. Similar to Dotel, he’s had success at keeping the ball away.

Of those 40 sliders, 30 have been on the outside part of the plate or further away. Righties are 0-for-7 in at-bats ending in a slider thrown to that location against Ogando this postseason.

Primary location of Alexi Ogando’s slider to right-handed hitters this postseason.
Click here to create your own Ogando heat maps

Mets host Cubs on Sept. 11 Anniversary

September, 10, 2011

Courtesy of Marc Levine/New York Mets
Former New York Mets teammates Mike Piazza (2nd-left) and John Franco (4th-left) will take part in pregame ceremonies honoring the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11 prior to the Mets-Cubs game.

The New York Mets host the Chicago Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 ET on ESPN in the rubber game of a three-game series. Prior to the game, the Mets will hold a Sept. 11 Remembrance Ceremony.

Former closer John Franco will throw the first pitch to Mike Piazza, who hit a dramatic home run in the Mets 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21, 2001 – the first major league game in New York after the 9/11 terror attacks. In addition, a 300-foot-by-100 foot American flag will be unveiled; Marc Anthony – who sang the national anthem on Sept. 21, 2001 – will repeat the performance; and Queens native (and American Idol finalist) Pia Toscano will sing “God Bless America.”

On the mound
Matt Garza takes the mound for the Cubs, his first career start against the Mets. Garza is having the best season of his career, according to ERA. He has lowered his ERA nearly half a run from 3.91 last year to 3.52 this year.

However, the road hasn’t been kind to Garza this season. In 12 road starts, he’s 3-5 with a 4.84 ERA, more than double his home ERA (2.64). In addition, the opposition is hitting .279 against him on the road, compared to .230 in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

For the Mets, 40-year-old Miguel Batista takes the mound. Batista - playing for his 10th MLB team (tied with Bruce Chen for the second-most teams played for among active pitchers, behind Octavio Dotel, 12) - earned his 100th career win in his first start with New York (Sept. 1).

Batista is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts this season (including one start with the St. Louis Cardinals on April 22). Batista’s last loss as a starter was July 19, 2008. He is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in eight starts since then.

Matchup to watch
Jason Bay is hitting just .218 (19-87) since August 13, despite hitting .452 (14-31) during his current nine-game hitting streak. Bay is 5-20 (including postseason) in his career against Garza, but hasn’t faced him since 2009, when he went 3-15. However, those three hits were all for extra bases (double and two triples).

Stat of the game
Starlin Castro leads the NL with 186 hits and is projected to finish with more than 200 this season. He would be the first Cubs player to have a 200-hit season before turning age 22.

Blue Jays add firepower to back of bullpen

December, 29, 2010
Octavio Dotel
Reliever Octavio Dotel and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed on a one-year, $3.5 million deal Tuesday, the player's agent told

With the announcement that Dotel will function as the Blue Jays' closer in 2011, Toronto will be adding a high-strikeout reliever to the back of its bullpen. Since he reached the majors in 1999, few have equaled Dotel's propensity to record strikeouts, regardless of health or role.

Dotel has struck out at least 10 batters per nine innings pitched in each of the last four seasons, and since 1999 only Billy Wagner has more seasons with at least 10 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Blue Jays will be Dotel's 11th team in what will be his 13th season. He played for the Astros, Athletics and White Sox for multiple seasons and the Royals, Mets, Rockies, Pirates, Braves, Dodgers and Yankees for one season (or partial).

Among active players, only Matt Stairs -- who signed with the Washington Nationals this offseason -- has played for more teams than Dotel. Stairs has played for 12 teams since 1992. He debuted with the Nationals franchise during its Expos days, so he did not “gain” a team by joining the Nats.

Starting Sanchez made easy by numbers

October, 13, 2010
Why would San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy flip-flop Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, so that Sanchez pitches Game 2 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia?

There’s a very good reason.

Sanchez beat the Phillies twice during the regular season, holding them to a .114 batting average and two runs in 13 innings. For his career, he’s held the Phillies to a .175 batting average. That’s best among the 75 active pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings against the Phillies. Change the qualifier to five starts and Sanchez is second-best of anybody in the last 55 years (trailing only Floyd Youmans). He’s even 10 points better than the immortal Sandy Koufax.

The matchups rate favorably for Sanchez against every Phillies hitter, with one exception -- Shane Victorino is 6-for-15 (.400 BA) against him. Other than that, it’s pretty lopsided in Sanchez’s favor. Ryan Howard’s .214 batting average (3-for-14 with seven strikeouts) looks pretty good compared to Carlos Ruiz (.111, 1-for-9), Jimmy Rollins (.067, 1-for-16), Jayson Werth (0-for-12, six strikeouts), Ben Francisco (0-for-8) and Raul Ibanez (0-for-6).

Sanchez allowed one run and two hits in 7⅓ innings in Game 3 of the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. He’s one of three Giants to have a postseason start of at least seven innings and allowing two hits or fewer, joining teammate Lincecum and Dave Dravecky (1987).

That kind of performance is nothing new. Over the last two seasons, Sanchez has had that sort of performance three times in the regular season, including Aug. 19, when he took a one-hitter into the ninth inning of an eventual 5-2 win over the Phillies.
Ubaldo Jimenez set a Colorado Rockies' single-season record with his 18th win of the season. Jimenez also became the first starting pitcher this season to win a game in which he allowed 4+ runs and 6+ walks. Entering Monday, starting pitchers were 0-for-21 with five no-decisions in games in which they allowed 4+ runs and 6+ walks this season. He's the third Rockies starter ever to win a game in which he allowed 4+ runs and 6+ walks, joining Pedro Astacio (1998) and Bobby M. Jones (1999).

Staying with the Rockies, since August 23, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are hitting a combined .441 (41-for-93). The rest of the team his hitting just .241.
Boston Red Sox rookie Ryan Kalish has two grand slams this season in six plate appearances with the bases loaded. Some notable players who have fewer than two career grand slams: Derek Jeter (1), Prince Fielder (1), Victor Martinez (1) and Mark Reynolds (0).

Speaking of rookies, the Washington Nationals' Danny Espinosa has 10 RBI in his first five career games. That ties an MLB record since RBI became official in 1920. In 1951, Jack Merson also had 10 RBI in his first five career games.

Matt Capps saved his 10th game on Monday with the Minnesota Twins. And with 26 saves for the Nationals earlier this season, Capps is the fourth player with at least 10 saves in each league in the same season (since saves became an official stat in 1969). The three other pitchers: Bob Wickman in 2006 with the Cleveland and Atlanta; Octavio Dotel in 2004 with Houston and Oakland; and Wickman in 2000 with Milwaukee and Cleveland.

The Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Oswalt won his fifth straight start on Monday. He's had 11 win streaks (all as a starter) of at least five games in his career. Since his rookie season in 2001, the only pitcher with more 5+ win streaks is Roy Halladay (12).

Contenders adding relief

July, 31, 2010
One major theme over the past 48 hours is that contenders were looking to beef up their bullpen when it came to the trade deadline. Joba Chamberlain's lack of success may have triggered the New York Yankees into a move to bolster the back end of their bullpen. However, the acquisition of Kerry Wood may not be the right move. Since Wood became a full-time reliever in 2007 and his key numbers are going in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, the Braves acquired Kyle Farnsworth five years ago to the day in a trade with the Tigers and he pitched spectacularly for them as they won their last division title. Two of the players the Royals received in the Farnsworth/Ankiel trade, Tim Collins and Jesse Chavez, are becoming familiar with hotels. Collins was traded on July 14 from the Jays to Braves in the Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez deal. Chavez was traded last November from the Pirates to Rays in exchange for Akinori Iwamura. He was traded again as the primary piece the Rays sent to the Braves in exchange for Rafael Soriano this past December.
If there's one thing new Dodgers RP Octavio Dotel can do, it's strike people out. In his 12 seasons in the Majors, Dotel has posted a K/9 mark of 10.0 or greater in 9 of those seasons, including every year since 2007. Only 11 relief pitchers in the game have posted a 10.0+ K/9, ERA under 3.80 and thrown at least 200 innings over that span. Of those 11, Dotel ranks 3rd in K/9.