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

This series covers one day and one night game pitching match-up for each day (when available), 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.

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The foul ball match-ups for today, May 20, 2015, are:

Day Game: Athletics vs. Astros

The featured day game for today is between the Athletics’ Jesse Hahn and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchal.

I had to go back to 2013 and 2014 to get a decent amount of data for Hahn in day games. Apparently he doesn’t pitch often in the day. The overall percentage he’s allowed is 33.3% in day games during the previous two seasons. The data on Keuchal isn’t much better. The Astros starter is at 28.3%.

With such a small amount of data, it’s hard to get a clear picture on where this will end up, but I going to go out on a limb with this prediction: The Astros hold a small foul ball advantage because Hahn’s numbers this year aren’t particularly flattering either. To drive the pitchers out early I recommend that Athletics run righties against Keuchal, and for the Astros to not worry about what the order is, but to simply hit fouls as often as possible.

ADVANTAGE: Astros

Night Game: Twins vs. Pirates

The night game features The Twins’ Mike Pelfrey against the Pirates starter Jeff Locke. This is another closer pairing in terms of foul balls conversion rates.

Pelfrey has a miserable 32.4% rate, which 37.1% of right-handed batters managing to generate offense after one or more foul balls. Locke is marginally better. To his credit, he’s close to equally bad again against both sides of the plate (32.2% RHBs; 29% LHBs) for a marginally better 31.5% overall.

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What all this means to the teams is simple. If the Pirates loud a right handed batting lineup against Pelfrey and manage to hit fouls, the Twins starter is gone in 4 innings, 5 at the most. Essentially the same goes for the Twins; if they load right-handed batters against Locke, he’ll be out early, but I think he’ll go one more inning, lasting at least 5 and not a full 6.

ADVANTAGE: Pirates