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Gameday Thread, #72: 6/21 vs Devil Rays

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Brandon Webb, RHP (8-2, 2.37)
James Shields, RHP (3-0, 3.13)

The warm, comfy feeling of guaranteed success we had when Brandon Webb is on the mound, has all but gone now; he is winless since May 26th. It hasn't always been his fault - in two of the four outings since, he's allowed one or zero earned runs - but last time out, ten Texas hits led to five runs. I take some comfort from the fact that most of those were bleeders, seeing-eye shots, bloops and so on: this was not a Russ Ortiz, ten-hit outing, where eight of them are doubles.

However, today promises to be a challenge for Webb in a number of ways. Firstly, he relies heavily on his defense behind him, and they will be playing on artificial turf, which is (at the risk of stating the obvious) different from grass. Secondly, the Devil Rays have wheels, and like to use them - only the Mets and Angels have tried more often to swipe a bag than Tampa Bay this year. Webb has improved in this area, but is still definitely stealable on. Keeping the Rays' top two, Lugo and Crawford, off the basepaths will help. Yesterday, Lugo reached three times on a hit and two walks, and we all know how that turned out.

More people (18) have tried to steal on Webb than any other NL pitcher, though restricting them to a 72% success rate is pretty good. Here are the pitchers with more than 10 attempts against them, in descending order of success rate:

  1. Chris Young, SD: 16 attempts, 15 successes, 94%
  2. Derek Lowe, LA, 12/11/92%
  3. Pedro Martinez, NYM, 11/10/91%
  4. Brad Penny, LA, 15/13/87%
  5. Jake Peavy, SD, 14/12/86%
  6. Gavin Floyd, NYM, 13/11/85%
  7. Byung-Hung Kim, Col, 11/9/82%
  8. Jeff Francis, Col, 15/12/80%
  9. Jamey Wright, SF, 13/10/77%
  10. Greg Maddux, CHC, 17/13/76%
  11. Ryan Madsen, Phi, 11/8/73%
  12. Brandon Webb, AZ, 18/13/72%
  13. John Thomson, Atl, 14/10/71%
  14. Aaron Harang, Cin, 12/8/67%
  15. Orlando Hernandez, NYM, 13/8/62%
  16. Zach Duke, Pit, 13/5/38%
  17. Paul Maholm, Pit, 11/4/36%

What this tells us is, be very careful on the basepaths in Pittsburgh: more people have died there than anywhere else in the National League. Overall, St. Louis also has a kill-rate that nails better than 40%+ of attempted perpetrators. We're a credible 6th, at 31%; dead last (thanks in part to Peavy and Young) are San Diego, at 15%

I don't know much about James Shields, because he only has four career starts; opponents are hitting .304 off him so far. However, in his June appearances, he has allowed three runs in eighteen innings, with a K/BB ratio of 17:4. This does not augur well for our hitters, who are largely continuing to struggle. Three-quarters of our everyday lineup are now batting .250 or less for the month:

  • Jackson: .173/.274/.192
  • Tracy: .222/.256/.347
  • S.Green: .231/.286/.462
  • Gonzalez: .238/.310/.286
  • Counsell: .246/.281/.311
  • Byrnes: .250/.338/.464

Byrnes and Green are at least showing some power, but you could add Easley (.237), Clark (.240) and Andy Green (.182) off the bench, albeit in a smaller number of at-bats - eleven in Green's case. Snyder, Estrada and Hudson are the only members of the roster doing better; I guess you should technically count Hairston too, since he went 2-for-4 on Monday... Overall though, our June OPS (.708) is 15th in the league, ahead only of Atlanta (.701).