Daily Notes, Largely Concerning Luis Avilan’s Curve

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Featured Pitch: Luis Avilan’s Curve
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Featured Pitch: Luis Avilan’s Curve
What Happened Yesterday
Yesterday, left-hander Luis Avilan pitched two perfect innings of relief for Atlanta in the 6-2 victory over the New York Nationals (box).

What Has Happened More Generally
More generally, Avilan, who pitched almost exclusively as a starter at Double-A Mississippi, has been an entirely proficient member of the Braves bullpen for two-plus months. To wit: 35.0 IP, 23.2% K, 7.3% BB, 45.7% GB, 3.15 SIERA, 90 xFIP-, 0.6 WAR, 5 SD, 1 MD.

How Avilan Has Done That
Avilan’s success is based largely on his curveball, on which pitch he has posted a 19.0% swinging-strike rate (relative to a league average of ca. 11%, according to work by Harry Pavlidis). Avilan’s curve has been worth close to four runs above average for every 100 he’s thrown.

Leaderboard: Curves by Run Value
Here are the top-five leaders by run value above average among pitchers who’ve thrown at least 50 curveballs this season (R/100 is runs above average for every 100 curves thrown):

Name Team IP Pitches CU% Tot. CU Runs R/100
Jesse Crain White Sox 47.0 838 6.0% 50 3.1 6.2
Scott Atchison Red Sox 50.2 685 14.9% 102 4.6 4.5
Brett Anderson Athletics 35.0 527 11.1% 58 2.4 4.2
Sam LeCure Reds 55.2 919 14.5% 133 5.3 4.0
Luis Avilan Braves 33.0 500 18.6% 93 3.4 3.7

Action Footage
Here’s some Action Footage™ of Avilan’s curve from Sunday, a called strike three to Lucas Duda:

More Action Footage
Here’s some Action Footage™ of Avilan’s curve from Saturday, featuring a different called strike to Lucas Duda:

Still More Action Footage
Here’s more footage from Saturday, in which Avilan gets Duda swinging:

What One Learns
One learns from this footage that the break of Avilan’s curveball isn’t particularly devastating, but also that the pitch features considerable horizontal movement (a full standard deviation more than league average for a left-hander, it turns out) and is likely quite effective against left-handed batters for that reason. (Indeed, according to PITCHf/x data from Texas Leaguers, Avilan throws the curve ca 29% to left-handed batters and just 11% to right-handed ones.)

Today’s Notable Games
Boston at New York AL | 19:05 ET
In the event that the reader had ever entertained notions of visiting Barf City, watching this game will provide a direct route to it.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Boston Radio.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay | 19:10 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
Playoff Implications™ abound. With three games remaining the upstart Orioles — who are actually among September’s best teams by run differential and WAR — are tied atop the AL East with the despotic Yankees.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Baltimore Radio.

New York NL at Miami | 19:10 ET
Right-hander Jeurys Familia, ranked third among Mets prospects on Marc Hulet’s preseason top-15 list, makes his first major-league start. The 22-year-old has pitched well in seven relief appearances so far (8.1 IP, 91 xFIP, 0.1), while sitting at ca 96 mph with his fastball. This game also features the benefit of Miami’s excellent, straight-on center-field camera.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire. The average NERD Game Score for today is 3.3.

Note: the following Game Scores include the poorly conceived playoff-odds adjustment discussed in a recent edition of Daily Notes. Also note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Paul Maholm ATL 5 6 4 4 9 PIT Jeff Locke 19:05
Clay Buchholz BOS 4 4 5 7 10 NYA CC Sabathia 19:05
Hector Santiago* CHA 7 4 4 2 6 CLE Corey Kluber 19:05
Kyle Kendrick PHI 4 6 2 7 2 WAS John Lannan 19:05
Es. Vasquez MIN 0 4 0 4 1 TOR Aaron Laffey 19:07
Wei-Yin Chen BAL 5 3 4 6 7 TB Alex Cobb 19:10
Jeurys Familia* NYN 9 2 4 4 6 MIA Josh Johnson 19:10
Lucas Harrell HOU 5 4 2 2 3 CHN Jason Berken* 20:05
Rick Porcello DET 7 4 3 6 3 KC Bruce Chen 20:10
Clayton Richard SD 4 6 3 10 5 MIL Shaun Marcum 20:10
Bronson Arroyo CIN 4 4 5 9 9 STL Jaime Garcia 20:15
Drew Pomeranz COL 4 6 3 7 6 AZ Wade Miley 21:40
Martin Perez TEX 4 6 4 7 7 OAK Jarrod Parker 22:05
C.J. Wilson LAA 4 7 5 4 9 SEA Felix Hernandez 22:10
Matt Cain SF 6 4 2 1 1 LAN Aaron Harang 22:10

To learn more about Pitcher and Team NERD scores click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Chris From Bothell
11 years ago

I respectfully disagree with your choices of notable games.

I don’t know if these were picked from a hat (Mets/Marlins? Simply because of some wunderkind top prospect? Meh) or simply for the LOLs (RedSox/Yankees, we’re all sick of ’em, herp derp) or just on autopilot by NERD rankings because hey, Monday, we all take most of the morning to wake up.

Or, to be a bit more constructive:

Perhaps there should be an exception to the notable games feature this week, since this week is weird relative to the past 6 months. In the beginning part of the week, through as far as possibly Wednesday, there are several games where at least parts of the games will be interesting, even if the overall teams or pitchers themselves are not. And then at the end of the week, on Thursday and Friday, the notable games will be obvious, as they will be win-or-go-home sudden death Thunderdome sorts of affairs. And the division series starting on Saturday is self-explanatory. I think NERD largely goes out the window in circumstances like these.

So with that in mind, here’s my real notable games for today:

BAL v. TB: This one you had right. Rays win, and an Oakland loss means that Tampa Bay still has a pulse. Orioles win, and the stage is set via a Yankees loss and/or Oakland loss for an interesting finish. Hell, if the O’s and Yankees sweep there’s a quirk too.
TEX v. OAK: A sweep by Oakland has them winning the West. Who saw that coming when the Rangers were off to the races in May? A sweep by Texas is part of the magic formula which rends time and space, converges elemental forces, summons ancient demons… um, sorry, it doesn’t do any of that, but it IS one half of the only way the Angels can limp into the playoffs. It’s also impressive considering it won’t be at the Arlington Launchpad.
ANA v. SEA: It is entirely possible that the team that obtained the best pitcher in free agency last winter, the best hitter on the planet as of last year, and a rookie having an historic, possibly MVP season… will be knocked out of the playoffs tonight by King Felix and a team so laughably bad on offense that they’ve regularly featured Miguel Olivo batting cleanup. It is also possible the Angels sweep the M’s this week starting tonight, and pray for the Rangers to do the same to Oakland, see above.
STL v. CIN, LAD v. SF: Ok, these may not be interesting on their own. But unless I’m doing the math wrong (always possible), a Cards win and a Dodgers loss kicks the Dodgers out and makes the Cards the 2nd WC, giving the Cards 2 days to ‘tune up’ for the play-in game with the Braves. It’s nifty that it just so happens that the teams that could determine whether it’s Cards or Dodgers as the 2nd WC, are the two thus-far confirmed division winners themselves. And Garcia rates pretty high on your NERD there, so the Dodgers have a tall order to have a half a pulse after tonight.
WSH v. PHI: The Braves are playing the hapless Pirates, so pencil that in for a sweep. Which means the Nats need to get 1 win in the next 3 days to avoid their own little whirl of confusion to figure out who’s in the play-in. Wouldn’t it be tragic if the Nationals finally achieve relevance, and even beat the Braves in a one-game round to make the play-in game, then get kicked out by the Cards or Dodgers? Stage might be set for that tonight. I know the starting pitchers aren’t anything to write home about, but I also know I’ll probably be checking in on this game in the late innings to see if the Nats have clinched or not.

So yeah. Welcome to October!

J.P. Widely
11 years ago

That was a good run down, albeit lacking redundancy, one-eighth baked statistics and overwrought analysis of yet another bad Lucas Duda at-bat.

11 years ago

Yep, that’s a good job you did, listing a bunch of games that involve playoff contenders.

Rex Manning Day
11 years ago

Texas and Anaheim getting sweeps is still only half of the most apocalyptically amusing scenario. If Tampa also sweeps Baltimore, you’d have a 3-way tie for the WC. Add in a Boston sweep, and you’d even get a tie atop the AL East.

The National League seems to have sorted itself out for the most part, but at least the junior circuit is keeping the hopes for shenanigans alive just a little bit longer.