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The Boy Done Wrong Again: Brushing Up On Derek Lowe

Well this is kinda boring.  This will be the third straight pitcher with the same approximate sinker/slider/change repertoire. The problem so far hasn't been getting hits.  We managed 10 in the Sunday abomination and 11 in the game before, BABIPing over .300 in both games.  The difference was the batted ball types.  Marquis couldn't keep the Sox bats in the yard, ceding two HRs and two doubles.  Dempster, on the other hand, allowed zero HR and, to use the old Sports Center euphemism "scattered" his 10 base hits.  The other issue is K/BB ratio.  Dempster ceded a lone walk and K'd 4 and Marquis did likewise.  That's the sort of thing that suppresses both batting average and on base percentage.  In the second game, it's likely the thing that kept the offense from reaching the tipping point.

For what it's worth, I checked out how each individual batter in our usual lineup performs against sinkers and there just wasn't enough of a sample to make reasonable conclusions.  Crede has done well and everyone else was more or less limited to singles.  Again, not enough data to draw conclusions.  On to Mr. Lowe.

His sinker is a real man's sinker.  Doesn't break 90 on average, but he's kept his line drive rate below 17% since 2004, when he gave up 17.3%.  That also happened to be the last time he had an xFIP above 4.00.  He cut his walk rate by about a third and bumped his K rate a bit and has since been, if not an ace, then a superb number 2.  He's one of the few in the league that has demonstrated an ability to control his BABIP and he allows walks at about the same rate as Javy has historically.  In addition to all that, he pitches in Dodger Stadium, which suppresses HRs more than all but 6 stadiums in MLB.  That, of course, will only come into play if we actually hit some fly balls.  Lowe is allowing significantly more than 20% fly balls for the first time in his career (well since '02 anyway, which is as far back as batted ball data goes).  Now he's at about 25%! 

Like most slider/change pitchers, Lowe saves his change as an out pitch against lefties.  Against RHB, the out pitch is the slider.  His slider gets more whiffs than both Dempster and Marquis and his change is better than either of the two Cubs pitchers.  He'd get more K's, but he works quickly, going only 3.67 pitches per batter.  It's going to be a struggle even to get his pitch count up.  I'm going to try not to think about the odds that OC and AJ go back to back one pitch at bats at least once this game.