Fun with Small Sample Sizes: Pitchers Edition


Now that all teams but three (Detroit, Minnesota, Arizona) have played 5 games, and only Arizona is using a 5th starter (Joe Saunders), it’s time to take a look at fun small sample sizes for pitchers. Let’s start off with Tiger pitching lines, then move around the league again. The good news is, the Tigers are still on pace for 162-0!

Justin Verlander: 8IP 2H 0ER 1BB 7SO
Verlander was masterful on opening day, which is something Tiger fans have gotten used to. Only 2/20 batters that put the ball into play against the Tiger ace got a hit, good for a .100 BABIP, obviously unsustainable. His performance was good for a .4 WAR, and his peripherals earned him a 1.30 FIP. On the flip side, Verlander’s average fastball velocity was 93.5 MPH, down from his usual 95. He only got one swinging strike on an off speed pitch, too. I doubt these trends continue throughout the season, as it was only his first start.

Max Scherzer: 2.2IP 8H 7ER 2BB 3SO
Bad Max showed up in his first start of the season. His 23.63 ERA is obviously unsustainable, as is his .615 BABIP, even though he gave up 6 line drives on 14 balls in play. However, it was quite apparent that Scherzer didn’t have his good stuff, only getting 8 outs on 80 pitches. I’d expect Max to do better next time out.

Rick Porcello: 7IP 7H 2ER 1BB 4K
The former #1 prospect had a very nice outing yesterday. He worked in his off speed pitches, and his sinker was very difficult for batters to square up. If not for a mental lapse in the third inning, the Rays may not have scored on Porcello. He scattered a few hits, but wriggled out of some tight corners by making good pitches when it counted. The story for Rick, however, is that his velocity dropped in the later innings of the game, and that trend needs to change if he’s going to throw over 200 innings this season.

Other starters around the league:
Jered Weaver: 8IP 4H 0ER 0BB 10K
Awesome performance from Weaver, who is now an undisputed top 5 pitcher in baseball.

Chad Billingsley: 8.1IP 3H 1BB 11K
This start is encouraging for the Dodgers and Billingsley, as he has had trouble breaking the 200IP barrier the last three seasons, although coming close. His biggest problem has been consistency, and the National League saw how dominant he could be with this start.

Barry Zito: 9IP 4H 0ER 0BB 4K
The much maligned Zito threw a shutout in his first appearance for the Giants this season. It remains to be seen if he can be a viable rotation option, but it’d surely be an unexpected surprise to a rotation that already features top end arms.

Roy Halladay: 8IP 2H 0ER 0BB 5K
Ho-hum for the Phillies’ ace. He’s unbelievably good, and if it weren’t for Verlander, would be the best pitcher in baseball by a wide margin.

Jeff Samardzija: 8.2IP 4H 1ER 8K
The former Notre Dame football player was extremely impressive, almost throwing a complete game in his first appearance of 2012. He averaged 95.3 MPH on his fastball, the second highest average to Stephen Strasburg.

Let’s see if the guys who got off to a hot start on the mound can continue throughout the year.