Statistically Speaking: Phillies pitchers falling behind from start
“Throw first-pitch strikes” is more than a bumper sticker mantra for pitching coaches — getting ahead in the count practically takes the bat out of hitters' hands.
When pitchers jump ahead 0-1 this season, they're limiting batters to a .595 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) during the rest of the at-bat. But when they fall behind 1-0, they're getting tattooed (.799 OPS).
The latest edition of the Keystone State rivalry could hinge on which team gets the first-pitch advantage.
The Phillies, sporting the third-worst ERA (3.86) among National League clubs, are backing themselves into lots of hitters' counts. And the patient Pirates — second in the NL in OPS (.750) since the beginning of May — are just the team to capitalize.
Philly pitchers are throwing first-pitch strikes just 59.5 percent of the time according to Fangraphs, the fourth-lowest clip in the NL. All three of the Phillies' weekend starters — Roberto Hernandez, David Buchanan and A.J. Burnett — are falling behind from the get-go.
Pitcher First-Pitch Strike Pct.
A.J. Burnett 54.1
David Buchanan 57.7
Roberto Hernandez 58.3
MLB Avg. 60.4
Pirates hitters, meanwhile, are gaining the upper hand on pitchers like no other NL team. The Bucs have seen the fewest first-pitch strikes (59.1 percent) in the Senior Circuit and boast five regulars who routinely work favorable counts.
Batter First-Pitch Strike Pct.
Russell Martin 51.8
Gregory Polanco 52.0
Pedro Alvarez 53.0
Andrew McCutchen 54.6
Neil Walker 59.5
The Phillies are getting pummeled for an .813 OPS after falling behind 1-0, with Hernandez (.944) and Buchanan (.914) especially getting lit up.
Polanco (1.026 OPS after getting ahead 1-0), Walker (.964), Martin (.945), McCutchen (.909) and Alvarez (.907) are all raking for the Pirates, who have an .812 OPS once they jump ahead in the count.
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Cubs, August 3, 2015
- 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
- Pirates farmhand Suchy learns limits of his size, strength
- Biertempfel: Players, MLB agree logic of season’s setup needs to be examined
- Gameday: Pirates at Reds, Aug. 2, 2015
- Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
- Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
- Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
- Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
- Gameday: Pirates at Cincinnati, Aug. 1, 2015