Stats & Info: Jason Hammel

Oakland's Fourth of July Fireworks

July, 5, 2014
Jul 5
1:02
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The Oakland A’s pulled off a stunning trade Friday night reportedly acquiring pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs for a package including shortstop Addison Russell, the third-ranked prospect in baseball at the beginning of the season, according to ESPN’s Keith Law.

That gives the Athletics, already owners of the best record in baseball and lowest ERA in the American League, arguably the most formidable rotation in the game, featuring five of the top 34 qualifiers for the ERA title.

Support for Samardzija

Samardzija lost seven of nine decisions for the Cubs this season despite having an ERA of 2.83 that ranks him 10th in the NL among qualifiers. That’s mainly because the Cubs were giving him just 2.41 runs of support on offense, which ranked 49 of those same 50 qualifiers in the Senior Circuit.

Offensive firepower shouldn’t be as much of a problem in the East Bay as it was on the North Side. In fact, the A’s have the highest-scoring offense in baseball, averaging 5.0 runs per contest, a full run more than the 21st-ranked Cubs

Don’t Forget about Hammel

Jason Hammel’s ninth major league season has been his best by far. The former Ray, Rockie, Oriole (and now Cub) has career-bests in ERA (2.98), K/9 (8.6), WHIP (1.02) and Opp BA (.222).

He returns to the AL where he has a career ERA of 5.00 in five seasons, but has always pitched well in Oakland. He’s 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five games (two starts) in his new home stadium.

Could be a Cubs Coup

With the acquisition of Russell, Chicago now has six of the top 71 position prospects according to Law’s preseason ranks. Russell was Oakland’s only prospect ranked in the top 100.

Top stats to know: Cardinals at Cubs

May, 4, 2014
May 4
2:15
PM ET
One of baseball’s best rivalries will get special treatment at 8 p.m. ET today (ESPN/Watch ESPN), with "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcasting the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs live from the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Here are some of the statistical storylines our broadcast crew will be looking at.

Jason Hammel’s surprising success
Jason Hammel’s 4-1 record, 2.08 ERA and league-leading 0.69 WHIP is one of the biggest early surprises of the 2014 season.

What have been the keys to Hammel’s success?

Hammel has thrown a much higher percentage of pitches at the bottom of the strike zone than he has in the past.

His rate of pitches in the lower-third of the strike zone or below in five starts this season is 46 percent, up from 35 percent from 2009 to 2013.

While Hammel has done a much better job neutralizing left-handers than he has in the past, he has been downright dominant against right-handed batters.

Righties are hitting .098 against him entering the day, the lowest opponents batting average for any ERA-title qualifier (two points better than Jose Fernandez entering the day). They’re 1-for-40 against him in two-strike counts.

Stats to Watch: Lance Lynn
Lance Lynn has had a lot of success for the Cardinals the past three seasons and he can thank his team’s offense in part for that. The Cardinals average 5.4 runs per game in Lynn’s starts over the past three seasons, the third-highest rate in the majors.

The thing to be wary of when Lynn struggles is the big inning. He has allowed three or more runs in an inning 27 times over the past three seasons. Only Jordan Lyles has yielded more big innings (29).

Lynn has always had more trouble with left-handed batters than right-handed batters. From 2012 to the present, he has allowed righties to hit .240 with a .637 OPS and lefties to hit .267 with an .808 OPS. That gap has been only more pronounced this season, with lefties hitting .291/.371/.509 in 62 plate appearances in 2014.

The struggles of the Cardinals' outfield
Without Carlos Beltran, the Cardinals outfield has not been able to replicate its past success.

Cardinals outfielders rank 14th in the NL in batting average and slugging percentage, and 13th in on-base percentage.

The difference from last season to this season is stark and can be seen in the chart on the right.

Starlin Castro’s turnaround
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has gotten off to a good start this season, hitting .313 with four home runs in his first 112 at-bats.

One reason for that is that Castro has been much more effective handling pitches on the inner half of the plate from right-handers this season. Pitchers have been attacking him there more often than they did last season, and he appears to be adjusting.

He’s hitting .370 with three homers in at-bats that end against righties that end with a pitch on the inner-half. Last season, he hit .264 with five homers on those pitches.

Kernels: A week of perfect fives

May, 19, 2013
5/19/13
7:39
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Our weekly review of interesting and notable stats you might have missed.

Give Me Five
Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals went 5-for-5, with 5 RBI, in Monday's 11-4 victory against the Los Angeles Angels. And he had that big game without going deep. Butler's RBI came on two doubles and a single.

Butler was the first player to have five hits and five driven in since Josh Hamilton's four-homer game last season. And in franchise history, only one other Royal had reached five-and-five in the same game: Kevin Seitzer (6-for-6, 2 HR, 7 RBI) against the Red Sox on August 2, 1987.

On Tuesday, Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies also went 5-for-5 in a 9-4 win against the Chicago Cubs.

That was the first five-hit game by a Colorado batter in three years, and two of those hits left the yard. That made CarGo just the third player in franchise history to have five hits, including two homers, in a single game. Andres Galarraga had a six-hit, two-homer game in 1995, and Vinny Castilla did it in a 12-inning contest in July 1997.

And the week wasn't over. Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers went 5-for-5 in Saturday's 7-2 victory against the Tigers. He's the first leadoff hitter to go a perfect 5-for-5 (or better) since Derek Jeter on July 9, 2011. That's the game where Jeter homered for his 3,000th hit.

Prior to this week there had been just one other five-hit game this season, by Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians on April 7.

Slugfest of the Week: Rays 12, Orioles 10
The Rays scored seven runs off starter Jason Hammel, added three more off Sean Burnett (who needed 28 pitches to get one out), and were up 12-4 before Jeremy Hellickson got in trouble in the 8th. A Nate McLouth triple started the inning, and the Orioles strung together five straight two-out hits en route to a six-run frame.

The teams combined for 30 hits (only nine games this season have gotten there; the high is 33 by the Diamondbacks and Cardinals on April 3), and each team had six extra-base hits.

Both starters gave up 10 hits and at least seven runs. That hadn't happened in any game since July 20, 2009, when the Minnesota Twins' Nick Blackburn and Gio Gonzalez "dueled" in a 14-13 Oakland Athletics win.

On the other hand, Hellickson walked just one hitter and Hammel two, and that combination (10-plus hits, seven-plus runs, max of two walks) hadn't been achieved by a pair of starters in more than a decade. John Patterson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Mets' Al Leiter each posted that line on August 4, 2002.

The Orioles also had two triples (Yamaico Navarro had the other), the first time they've done that in almost three years (July 7, 2010, at Detroit). That had been the longest drought without a multi-triple game by any team.

Winning Ugly
Hellickson got the win in that game on Friday despite being charged with eight runs. But he wasn't the only one this week.

Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants worked into the seventh inning against the Rockies on Thursday, allowing six runs and three homers. He got the win only because Jhoulys Chacin gave up eight runs.
Hellickson
Hellickson
Cain
Cain
Garcia
Garcia

On Friday, Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals pitched 5 1/3 innings with six runs allowed, but won because Wily Peralta of the Brewers allowed seven.

There have been five instances this season of a pitcher allowing six or more runs and getting a win, all in the last 10 days. And the last time three pitchers did it in two days was on April 13, 2009, when Edinson Volquez, Gavin Floyd, and Koji Uehara all barely made it through the required five innings.

The last two-day span where all three pitchers went beyond the five-inning minimum was May 25-26, 1992. Those lucky winners were Butch Henry of the Astros, Charles Nagy of the Indians, and the Orioles' (and ESPN's) Rick Sutcliffe.

Pitch selection key for Hammel, Sabathia

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
11:59
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Dale Zanine/US PresswireJason Hammel has allowed only 2 hits in 17 at-bats that end with a slider against the Yankees in four games this season, including his Game 1 start.
The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees play the third winner-take-all game in this year’s League Division Series on Friday.

The Orioles are 1-3 in winner-take-all postseason games, with their only win coming against the Texas Rangers in the AL wild-card game this year. The Yankees have lost three straight such games (their last win came in 2003 against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS).

Let’s take a closer look at today’s pitching matchup.

Jason Hammel's key: Slider
For Hammel to help the Orioles to their second straight winner-take-all victory, he’ll need continued success with his slider.

In four games against the Yankees this season, Hammel has held them to two hits in 17 at-bats with the slider (0-for-5 in Game 1 of the ALDS).

CC Sabathia's key: Pitching inside to righties
The key for Sabathia to have success is pitching inside to righties.

In Game 1, Orioles righties were 1-for-10 in at-bats ending with a Sabathia pitch inside. For the season, Baltimore is 7-for-39 with 14 strikeouts against Sabathia in at-bats ending with a pitch inside.

In Game 1, 22 of Sabathia’s 28 offerings to righties inside were with the fastball and just three were sliders (he averaged 14 fastballs and 14 sliders in three regular season starts).

Struggling Stars
Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano struggled in Game 4, going a combined 1-for-15 with five strikeouts. For the series, they are 5-for-50 with 19 strikeouts. Of the 50 outs, 25 have come on pitches in the strike zone.

The Yankees aren’t the only team to have high-profile players struggling in this series. Baltimore’s Adam Jones hit .287 with 32 home runs in his breakout 2012 campaign, but he’s putting up one of the worst performances in a postseason in some time, hitting .105 with no walks in the series.

In fact, when you factor in the wild-card game against the Rangers, Jones is hitting .091 with a .178 OPS. It’s also clear that the Yankees can survive a lesser A-Rod, but Jones is crucial for the Orioles.

There can be no denying that Jones is seeing significantly more breaking balls in this postseason than he did during the regular season, and he’s chasing a lot more pitches overall than he did in the regular season.

Did you know?
After a historically close race for the division title (the Yankees and Orioles were separated by no more than 1.5 games from Sept. 3 through Oct. 2), the two teams are engaged in a similar battle inning by inning in the ALDS.

Through the first four games of the series, the score of the game has been either tied or within one run after 41 of the 43 innings played! Only a five-run ninth inning in Game 1 for the Yankees, which broke a 2-2 tie, and the Orioles scoring a sixth-inning run to take a 3-1 lead in Game 2 (which the Yankees immediately answered next half-inning with a run) have prevented the teams being within one run of each other after every inning of the series.

Elias says with the scoring margin no greater than one run in 41 of 43 innings in 95.3 percent of the innings played would stand as the highest in major league history. The “current” record is the 1970 NLCS between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates (24 of 28 innings, .857 pct in three games). The record for a series of at least five games is the 1980 NLCS between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies (41 of 50 innings, .820 pct).

Darvish headlines AL Final Vote candidates

July, 1, 2012
7/01/12
10:04
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Tim Heitman/US PresswireYu Darvish is one of the five American League Final Vote candidates.
Now that the All-Star teams have been announced, the next step is to vote for the Final Vote candidates.

In the American League, the vote comes down to Jonathan Broxton, Yu Darvish, Ernesto Frieri, Jason Hammel and Jake Peavy.

Which of these players most deserves to be in the All-Star Game?

First, let’s take a look at the three starting pitchers.

YU DARVISH

Darvish is 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 117 strikeouts. Max Scherzer is the only pitcher with more strikeouts not to be selected to the All-Star Game. Darvish has gone at least seven innings and recorded at least eight strikeouts in each of his last four starts. Only R.A. Dickey has a longer such streak this season.

Darvish has five starts with double-digit strikeouts, which is tied with Dickey for the most such games in baseball this season. He has the fourth-most strikeouts per nine innings behind Stephen Strasburg, Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez. Darvish has thrown the fourth-most pitches per start, trailing Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and James Shields.

JASON HAMMEL

Hammel is 8-3 with a 3.29 ERA and 89 strikeouts. On June 27, he allowed eight earned runs and 3 1/3 innings. Jered Weaver is the only pitcher selected to the All-Star Game to allow at least eight earned runs in no more than 3 1/3 innings this season.

JAKE PEAVY

Jake Peavy started off great at 6-1 with a 3.05 ERA and 72 strikeouts in his first 12 starts. He’s lost each of his last four starts, but three of those four were quality starts and he has a 2.70 ERA over that span.

Thirteen of Peavy’s 16 starts this season are quality starts. Nobody in the American League has more quality starts than Peavy, and only R.A. Dickey (14) has more in all of baseball. The other two American League pitchers with 13 quality starts – Verlander and C.J. Wilson – were both selected to the All-Star team.

Broxton and Frieri are the two relievers in the AL group.

JONATHAN BROXTON

Jonathan Broxton
Broxton
Broxton has converted 20 of his 23 save opportunities this season. He is the only one of the four AL relievers with at least 20 saves not selected to the All-Star team.

After having an ERA over 4.00 each of the last two seasons, Broxton is on pace for the lowest ERA of his career. He's doing this despite having a lower strikeout rate than any of his previous seven seasons.

ERNESTO FRIERI

Frieri has a 0.75 ERA and is opponents are hitting .132 against him this season. But since coming over to the AL from the San Diego Padres, Frieri has converted all 10 of his save opportunities and he hasn’t allowed a single run in 23 1/3 innings.

AL East features pivotal matchups

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
3:43
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The battle in the AL East is closer than ever with all five teams separated by just three games. Each team is at least two games over .500 and no team has a negative run differential. That's impressive, considering that according to Elias, the last time prior to this season that an American League division had all of its teams at least two games above .500 at least 50 games into the season was in 2000 (AL West).

A look at some key matchups within the division tonight:

Rays at Yankees, 7:05 ET

James Shields looks to get revenge against a New York Yankees team that has owned him in his career. Shields is 5-12 with a 4.39 ERA in 22 starts against the Yankees, including 2-7 with a 5.00 ERA in 11 starts at Yankee Stadium. This season New York has tagged him for nine ER in 11 innings (7.36 ERA) over two starts. The Yankee lefties feasted, going 9-for-29 (.310), and he struck out only 9.4 percent of those batters.

Andy Pettitte faces a Tampa Bay Rays team that gave him trouble in 2010. He gave up nine ER in 7 1/3 innings (11.05 ERA) in two starts against them, and is coming off his worst start of the season (five runs, nine hits) versus the Los Angeles Angels. Pettitte tried to work away from the Angels batters, with little success, as they were 4-for-9 (.444) and missed on 2 of 19 swings (10.5 percent) against pitches on the outer third of the plate.

Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 ET

Jason Hammel takes the mound for the Baltimore Orioles, looking to avoid losing consecutive starts for the first time since May 10th and 15th of last season. Hammel beat the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 5th, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox struggled to make good contact against Hammel last month, fouling off a season-high 30 of 55 swings (54.5 percent).

Jon Lester gets the start for the Red Sox. Since his one-run, complete game on May 14th, Lester has allowed 15 ER in 16 2/3 innings (8.10 ERA). But the Orioles are the perfect team for him to break out of his slump against, considering he is 14-0 in 19 career starts against Baltimore. According to Elias, only three other pitchers won each of their first 14 decisions against a particular team in the Expansion Era (since 1961).

Rangers Reeling

The Texas Rangers, once the hottest team in baseball, are in a slump right now with five losses in their last six games. The offense has slipped, with three runs or fewer in four of those six games, and Monday night Texas was held hitless through the first seven innings of the game by Jarrod Parker.

However, the pitching has been even worse, as the Rangers have allowed 10+ runs in three games during this six-game slide. In their first 49 games, they gave up at least 10 runs just once.

Phillies continue to roll at home

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
4:32
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Phillies 5, Rockies 4
Phillies sweep 4 from the Rockies and have won 5 straight, matching their longest win streak of the season. Philadelphia has also won 8 straight home games, its longest such streak since winning 16 straight at home in 1991. Joe Blanton earns his first win in his last 6 starts. Charlie Manuel wins his 500th game as Phillies manager, becoming the 4th to reach that plateau with the franchise. Jason Hammel loses his third straight road start. The Rockies have lost 6 straight since last Tuesday's 10-0 win over Florida. It's Colorado's longest losing streak since a 7-game slide in September 2008. Rockies finish 2-9 on their longest road trip of the season.

The Closer: A learning experience

June, 13, 2010
6/13/10
12:50
AM ET
Saturday was a day for going beyond the basics on the back of the baseball card. So much happened in the 15 games yesterday that it was hard to limit our favorite notes to the eight we selected. But we felt like we learned a lot. This was our best note:

1) Derek Jeter is THE BEST in the majors when it comes to leading off a game. His home run to lead off Saturday’s game was his 24th as a Yankee, but that only tells a small part of the story. Jeter’s career batting average when leading off games is .350.


According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there’s no regular leadoff hitter in the divisional era (since 1969) who is even remotely close to that. (Juan Pierre ranks second at .317). For those who say on-base percentage is most important, Jeter checks in at .398. What else did we see?


2) Diamondbacks starter. Dan Haren can hit. He now has more extra-base hits (6) than strikeouts (5) this season. Haren only misses on 12 percent of his swings at the plate. His opposing hitters missed on 37 percent of their swings against him on Saturday, and have missed on 27 percent of swings against him this season.


3) Yankees starter Javier Vazquez is looking a lot better lately. He’s been pinpoint at locating his fastball away and it’s been a major trigger to some of the success he’s had.

4)The Mets have found a starting pitcher who could best be described as “watchable.” Why would we say that about Hisanori Takahashi? He went seven full innings without running a 2-0 count on any hitter, and allowed only one run in beating the Orioles.

5) Rockies starter Jason Hammel is dealing. He’s 3-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA in his last four starts, thanks in part to a funky slider and an ability to get hitters to chase pitches out of the strike zone.

6) The newest member of Red Sox nation, Daniel Nava, is a GREAT story. He became the fourth player in major league history to hit a grand slam in his first at-bat (three have done it since 2005…but only one did it from 1876 to 2004). Nava hit a first-pitch grand slam and a second-pitch double. He'll fit in well in Boston. If you look at only 0-0 and 0-1 pitches (the two Nava hit on Saturday), the Red Sox batting average of .377 is the best in the majors.

7) Brooks Conrad knows how to win games. He had a squeeze bunt in the ninth inning to win Saturday’s game for the Braves against the Twins. He’s now won a game this year via suicide squeeze AND grand slam. Via Elias, in the last 10 years, the only other player with game-winning RBIs on a bunt and a grand slam, both in the last inning, in the same season was David Eckstein, who did it both in 2002 for the Angels and 2005 for the Cardinals.

8)Lastly, pitchers be warned: If you throw Rays first baseman Carlos Pena a slider, you do so at your own peril. Pena homered for the sixth straight game, a streak in which he has seven home runs. Four of those home runs have come against sliders. Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco paid the price for throwing him one on Saturday.

1st Pitch: Fastballs that aren't working

May, 14, 2010
5/14/10
12:55
PM ET
Quick Hits: Not all fastballs are created equal. Let’s take a look at some pitchers whose fastballs just aren’t getting the job done this season.

* Opponents have swung and missed on Jason Hammel’s fastball just 5.4 percent of the time (league average: 14.3) and are batting a league-high .426 against his heater.

* Kevin Millwood has allowed eight home runs off his fastball this season, two more than anyone else.

* Wandy Rodriguez has thrown his fastball for a strike just 57.6 percent of the time this season, the league average is 63.7.

* Opponents are batting .392 against Carlos Zambrano’s fastball this season, well above the league average of .280.

* Ryan Rowland-Smith has yet to record a strikeout via the fastball this season. Opponents are hitting .324 with a 1.074 OPS against his heater.

* When Justin Verlander’s fastball has topped 95 mph, opponents have swung and missed just 15.0 pct of the time (lg avg: 19.4). They’re hitting .275 (lg avg: .243) against his 95 mph fastball and have hit a league-leading three home runs off it.

Today’s Trivia: With his 0.93 ERA through seven starts, it’s a good bet that Ubaldo Jimenez will set the Rockies record for the lowest ERA prior to the All-Star Break. Which pitcher holds the current record, set in their inaugural season in 1993?

Today’s Leaderboard: The red-hot Padres remain in first place in the NL West, but they have shown a weakness this season. Three Padres are tied for the worst batting average against fastballs 94 miles per hour or faster. As a team the Padres are batting .216.

Key Matchups: Alex Rios, who is batting .429 in May, has a chance to stay hot tonight. He’s batting .583 (14-24) in his career against Royals’ starter Gil Meche.

It will be tough for Dallas Braden to duplicate his perfect game tonight if Erick Aybar is in the lineup for the Angels. Aybar is a career .412 hitter (7-17) against Braden.

Trivia Answer: Armando Reynoso entered the All-Star Break with a 3.03 ERA in his rookie year in 1993. The only other Rockies starter with an ERA under 3.50 entering the All-Star Break was Marvin Freeman (3.18) in 1994. Since Coors Field opened in 1995 the top pre-All-Star Break ERAs belong to Kevin Ritz (3.50 in 1995) and Roger Bailey (3.50 in 1997).

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