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

This series covers one day and one night game pitching match-up 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:

Day Game: Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Today’s featured day game between the Tigers and Cardinals pits David Price against Tyler Lyons. This foul ball match up seems a bit off balance. In 2014, Price threw to 195 batters who slapped a foul ball, but I had to combine 2013 and 2014 to get a barely suitable amount of data for Lyons, who pitched to 40 batters in those two years who hit at least one foul ball.

For Price, the numbers aren’t surprising. He allowed RHBs to generate offense only 22.5% of the time after one foul ball. He let 25.7% of lefties do so. The combined number is 23.1% of all batters did something. Lyons, on the other hand showed that he was lousy against righties and dominated southpaws in the minimal data pool available. A whopping 41.4% of right handed batters generated offense (12/29). But he shut down the opposite side of the plate, not allowing any of the 11 LHBs to generate any type of offense; this brought his overall number to 30% of batters doing something.

For the Tigers, it could be best to avoid putting any left-handed batters against Lyons. Even if the first 11 are a fluke, it seems obvious that the Tigers shouldn’t press their luck. Stacking the lineup with all righties is a smarter move, assuming those batters slap at least one foul ball per at bat. If that’s the case, Lyons will be gone in 5 innings.

On the other hand, the Cardinals have an uphill battle regardless of the lineup. They’d best be served by adding a couple of southpaw bats to the order, but only one-fourth generating offense after a foul ball, they will be hard pressed to force Price out via fouls. If they succeed in beating the 23.1% overall rate, they’ll get Price out in 6. If they don’t (unless Price has a completely off day and allows a great deal of runs), he’ll be in for a minimum of 7 and probably 8 innings.



Night Game: Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Today’s night game showdown is between Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa and Dodgers ace Zack Greinke. This should be a very cool match regardless of which team wins. However, as the foul ball numbers go, the Dodgers hold the edge if they hit one or more fouls in an at bat.

De La Rosa’s foul ball numbers are high. Against right handed batters last season he allowed 72 of 186 righties in night games (38.7%) to generate offense (hit by pitch, balk, single, BB, etc.). Lefties were shut down though; only 10 of 50 did anything. Greinke, on the other hand, was consistently good versus both sides of the plate. With nearly the same number of batters faced on both ends, he allowed only 25.2% to do anything. Still, that’s 1 in 4 batters who managed to get to Greinke after one foul.

So the prediction: Of the Dodgers run an all-RHB lineup against De La Rosa, and make sure to swing at close pitches to foul off at least one ball, he’ll be gone in 5 innings maximum. If they decide to not swing or load southpaws against him, they are going to see him into the 7th. The Rockies have their hands full with Greinke regardless of which side they are going on. Their best bet is to add a couple left handers to the mix and make sure everyone swings at the close ones. Regardless, I’m confident Greinke will last into the 8th inning tonight.