Where hitting mistakes meets postseason pitching

lackeymap

The graphic above shows the strike zone plot for Red Sox starter John Lackey from last night, courtesy of brooksbaseball.net (you can find more detailed results here). It gives you an idea of how many pitches Lackey spotted around the corners and at the knees, and how many he left over the middle of the plate.

The quotes below show the Tigers’ reactions to that pitching:

  • “We had some really good at-bats,” Alex Avila said. “Their pitchers just didn’t make any mistakes. … I would say he probably threw a lot more curveballs and a lot more sliders than he had probably in all of his starts this season. He was mixing it up really well, which kept us off-balance really well, and he wasn’t missing. He was right on today.”
  • “He didn’t miss too much tonight,” Austin Jackson said. “When he did, I think he got hit, but he used his experience and was able to get out of some of those jams.”
  • “He definitely wasn’t in the middle of the plate,” Prince Fielder said. “He was on the corners. I think that’s playoff pitching. He did a good job, as well as [Justin Verlander].”
  • “If they throw a mistake, I hit it. If not, I won’t,” Fielder said. “It’s that simple.”

The problem, as evidenced above, is that there aren’t many mistakes to hit. It’s not just Lackey, but most of the starting pitchers the Tigers have seen this postseason. Sonny Gray missed on some pitches and paid for them in Game 5 of the AL Division Series in Oakland. That’s about it.

Of the four base hits the Tigers posted against Lackey (the light blue boxes on that map), two were around the middle of the plate, one was at the knees and another was off the plate. They also swung and missed at a couple of pitches over the plate. If you look at the map, you can also see right-handed hitters swinging and missing at pitches off the plate, as well as chasing a couple high fastballs.

According to Bill Chuck, Lackey threw 18 out of 20 curveballs for strikes (Brooks has 17 of 19. Just two of those were swings and misses. Four of those were balls put in play. He threw 14 out of 17 sliders for strikes, six for swings and misses and none put in play.

All this illustrates the problem for the Tigers. If they’re going to get to the World Series, they’re going to have to hit a pitcher who doesn’t throw many mistakes. Either that means being closer to perfect in capitalizing on bad pitches, or it means hitting a good pitch. The latter is something that makes Miguel Cabrera so tough for pitchers to attack, but he swung and missed eight times last night, fouled off two other pitches, and put two balls in play for outs.

15 Comments

Prince Fielder is a pretty quiet guy. When I read his comments in the media, I can see why. He probably should take a vow of silence. I don’t know what he is doing with his swing lately but it looks so awkward I think he may be forgetting to take his trapper off when he steps to the plate.

Prince Fielder didn’t saying anything that hundreds of ballplayers haven’t already said over the years. You don’t hit good pitches, you hit mistakes. You don’t hit Verlander’s curveball, you hit it when he hangs it. The Tigers’ offense hasn’t been absolutely terrible. The Red Sox offense has been a hundred times worse than ours, which everyone seems to be forgetting. The Tigers put themselves into a lot of good positions yesterday, and just didn’t execute. But they’re setting themselves up to win. Just gotta get those timely hits to push the runs across. There’s no reason to panic. We have as good a chance of winning as the Red Sox. The series is seven games. It’s not over until it’s over.

I have yet to read the comments yet from yesterday. It was a tough loss last night, the fans were not too happy. Amazing how both teams are pitching so good – the game easily could have been the other way with one good swing by our guys. I want to find some highlights on the tv or internet, sitting at the game you have a hard time telling just how the hitters are looking when they are up there. No excuse though for not getting our guy in from 3rd base with one out. Just bought a ticket for next Thursday for the World Series – a bucket list item – just hoping I actually get to use it. I really thought last night we would see lots of runs, so am hoping tonight is our night. Things are not over – Boston is struggling at the plate just like we are.

Pulling for you Tiger Girl. Our pitching is holding the BoSox down and they aren’t hitting much, as you say. But, they are hitting mistake pitches and we aren’t.
That seems to be the difference.

Amen Dan or when we are hitting aka Sunday night our crappie bullpen blows a really nice lead.

Hey Greg – saw your post yesterday – good to hear from you! The excitement level was not as high yesterday as it was last Tuesday when it was win or be done, or if it was just the fans frustration. JV was on fire though – can’t fault him for one run – we had to score to win anyways and could not even do that to tie it. I was the happiest person in the park yesterday when Cokie got out Ortiz – I think a lot of the folks were hoping for a failure to justify a good boo to get their frustration out. Sat in the right center bleachers for the first time ever. Good view but so very far from the hitters and the folks around me were highly annoying – glad my kids were not with us or they would have had learned a substantial vocabulary.

Is Victor OK? all we could see yesterday was him limping, I have struggled to find any updates on the web

Expect Miguel to tear the cover off the ball today. He did not SO 3 times but he looked as bad. After bad games he comes back with a vengeance
I m like to see them playing Boston. I want them to win,and going thru the path of less resistance is no proper of a great team. I want to see them winning the WS and winning well.

Jackson hitting 8th today, the internet wins.

Lineup: Hunter 9, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3, Martinez DH, Peralta 7, Avila 2, Infante 4, Jackson 8, Iglesias 6. Fister is starting

Interesting use of the lineup. He also could have hit Jackson 9th and he’d have the same batting order, minus an AB for Austin. Had to do something. And I don’t think this is a slap at Jackson, I think it takes some pressure off him. As much as that’s possible in the postseason, anyway.

We have to win today and tomorrow, because we’re not winning two straight in Boston. That would be a shocker.

Remember we were just a few outs away from winning 2 in boston. I usually try to stay positive. Eltigre i was thinking the exact same thing. Peavy is a very hittable pitcher. I like the lineup change but i just wish victor and pheralta were ahead of fielder. The tigers just really need to keep their eyes on the prize and stay super focused. This is still anyones series. I just hope the tigers know that and dont get too over anxious at the plate like cabby did last night.

By the way nice article jason. As always.

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