A Baseball Weblog

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Notes: The Doc vs The Big Man

Tonight at Yankee Stadium, we will be treated to quite a pitching matchup --- in a battle of aces, it'll be Roy Halladay for the defending NL Champion Phillies, and CC Sabathia will go for the defending World Champion Yankees. At their best, they're both as dominant as anybody in the majors, but they go about their dominance in different ways. Quick notes on both of them:


Basically, Roy Halladay is a monster. He doesn't walk anyone, strikes out a lot, and tends to keep the ball on the ground. That's helped him to a 1.96 ERA and a perfect game this year. Halladay throws two kinds of fastballs: a cutter and a sinker. The cutter has generated better than a 50% ground ball rate this year, and the sinker better than 60%. Halladay doesn't usually try to get either of his fastballs by hitters (.156 whiff rate for the cutter, .117 for the sinker) --- he uses his two offspeed pitches as his swing-and-miss stuff. His changeup is whiffed at 45% of the time, and his curveball 39%. Those are both incredible; it's interesting to note that the changeup is in the strikezone less than 28% of the time, by far less than any of Halladay's other offerings. This is offset by the highest out-of-zone swing rate of his pitches.


It looks like CC is starting to get it together. His strikeout rate is now up to 7.28, near his career norm of 7.56. Similarly, his BB/9 is down to 2.85 and is right in line with his career mark of 2.81. The home run ball has plagued Sabathia so far this year; his current 1.27 HR/9 is far and away the worst of his career, as he's never posted one above 1. He also has a career-worst 13.5% home runs per fly ball rate, which should probably come down over the next few months, particularly given his much lower career numbers. One marked improvement Sabathia has made this year is in his groundball rate. He was at a league-average ~43% last year, and now he's just under 51%. The biggest change has come in his four-seamer, which is being hit on the ground at an even 50% rate this year. Last year, that number was at 35%. Watching him, I've noticed him throw a lot of four-seamers down in the zone this year; I would love to give a closer look to this significant ground ball uptick. As for his other pitches, Sabathia will throw a two-seamer, a changeup, a slider, and an occasional curveball. The curveball is just a "show-me" pitch that he likes to throw early in the count to get ahead. The changeup (.339 whiff rate, .400 last year) is thrown to righties --- only two lefty batters have seen Sabathia's changeup so far this year. The slider (.392, .385) is seen by both righties and lefties.

Gameday PITCHf/x data is from MLB Advanced Media; it can be easily accessed via this tool.
Other stats are from Fangraphs.

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