Statistically speaking: Will Pirates be snake-bitten by sliders?
A four-game set with the Diamondbacks looks like a prime opportunity for the Pirates to boost their playoff odds.
After all, the Bucs' offense has been 5 percent better than the MLB average once you account for league run-scoring and park factors — sixth highest in the majors and the franchise's top mark since 1991. Arizona's pitching staff, by contrast, has the game's fourth-worst adjusted ERA (11 percent below average)
But the Diamondbacks might not be such an easy target. Several Arizona hurlers excel at throwing the one pitch the Pirates haven't been able to conquer: the slider.
The Bucs are crushing most every pitch type this season, posting positive run values against fastballs (+21.9 runs above average), curveballs (+11), changeups (+2.7) and cutters (+0.8). It's a different story versus sliders, though. They're the fifth-worst team against that offering, besting only anemic offenses in Boston, Cincinnati, Miami and the Cubs.
Slip sliding away
Team Run Value vs. Sliders
Red Sox -23.8
Not coincidentally, the Pirates have seen the second-highest rate of sliders (16.6 percent of total pitches) in the majors. Pedro Alvarez has scuffled the most, registering the worst run value among NL third basemen except for Mike Olt and Chris Johnson.
Batter Run Value vs. Sliders
Pedro Alvarez -4.6
Gaby Sanchez -3.3
Russell Martin -2.2
Jordy Mercer -1.9
Chris Stewart -1.1
Alvarez and the Bucs could end up flailing against Friday starter Vidal Nuno, who throws the seventh-highest rate of sliders (29.8 percent) among all starting pitchers. He's also a left-hander, and the Pirates haven't exactly pummeled southpaws (a .670 OPS+, fourth worst in the majors).
Bullpen arms Brad Ziegler and Oliver Perez could also torture the Bucs' lineup. The submarine-tossing Ziegler has the fourth-best slider run value among relievers (+6.7), while lefty Perez (+4.3) also places in the top 20.
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 at Cubs, April 27, 2015
- Burnett’s stellar start paves way for Pirates’ victory over Diamondbacks
- Pirates’ Cole reinforces status as emerging ace
- Bradenton outfielder Barnes burdened by his body
- Biertempfel: Observations from a day at the ballpark
- Pirates notebook: GM sticking to plan with Kang
- Pirates notebook: Fan struck by foul ball released from hospital
- Pirates notebook: Miffed Melancon finds success, will stick with his routine
- Gameday: Pirates at Diamondbacks, April 26, 2015
- Cole shuts down Diamondbacks as Pirates open road trip with victory
- Polanco, bullpen come up clutch as Pirates capture win over Cubs