Who Has the Foul Ball Advantage?: Select Match-Ups of Today’s Games

This sNewSiteBackGrounderies covers one day and one night game pitching match-ups for each day, and predicts which starter has the FoulBallz Foul Ball advantage: Which pitcher will leave the game first based on the 2014 foul ball numbers. How can the opposing line-up drive the starter out early? We’ll see.

The foul ball match-ups for today are:

Pirates vs. Cubs

Kyle Kendrick (Cubs) versus Pirates starter Jeff Locke. In 2014 MLB day games Locke beats out Kendrick in allowing batters to generate offense 261% to Kendrick’s 29.8% after the batter had clobbered one foul. However, these numbers don’t tell much of the story. In day games Kendrick fared significantly better against left handed batters (23.1 % generated offense) than did Locke who allowed a whopping 47.4% of lefties to generate some type of offense—error, stolen base, hit, etc.

For the Pirates to drive out Kendrick quickly, they are going to need to ensure they have as many right handed bats as they can muster, because the Cubs starter let 34.5% generated offense. These batters can drive up the pitch count then, making it so Kendrick tops out at 6 innings. For the Cubs to get to Locke, they need a southpaw heavy batting order. Since the Pirates starter allowed 47.4% of lefties to generate offense, it’s a sure bet that loading with lefties will drive him out within 5 innings.

Braves vs. Marlins

In the match-up between Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins’ David Phelps, Teheran has the clear Foul Ball Advantage. His numbers after one foul ball is nearly identical versus right handers and left handers (24.7% generate offense after one foul vs. 22.3%, respectively). Phelps’ numbers are significantly worse. Against RHBs last season he had a respectable 27.2% rate of offense, retiring 72.8% of them after one foul ball. However, against southpaws, Phelps is bad. Very bad. While LHBs generate offense 33.7% of the time after one foul ball, it’s the number of walks he gives up versus lefties: 15 of the 30 who got on last season after one or more fouls were walks, or 50% got on by being walked.

The advantage here is obvious. There’s not much the Marlins can do to get Teheran out early when it comes to slapping fouls. But, the Braves can make it a very short 4 inning night for Phelps if they load a left handed batting lineup against Phelps. The idea is to get men on base. A 50% walk rate against southpaws means not only does he throw a lot of pitches but he also gets rattled enough to put on plenty of runners.