One Night Only!

Today’s edition of One Night Only is being read aloud in the voice of Larry King.

(Games listed in order of likely awesomeness. NERD scores in parentheses.)

Featured Games
San Diego (10) at Colorado (7) | 3:10pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Clayton Richard (5) and Jorge de la Rosa (8). In his three years with the Rockies, de la Rosa has sported ERA/xFIP differences of .86, .62, and .58, respectively. My guess is that, on account of Coors Field rates as both homer-friendly (112 four-year, HR/FB factor) and hit-friendly (119 four-year, BABIP factor), that this is probably the case for a bunch of Rocky pitchers. Accordingly, it’ll help those same Rockies with respect to their NERD scores. I think this makes sense: part of NERD’s purpose — as is the case with advanced metrics, in general — is to remove a player from his context. Where Joe Briefcase looks at de la Rosa’s 2008 and sees a 4.92 ERA, Nerdy McNerderson sees a 4.06 xFIP*.
• At the team level, all the Colorado Rockies want to do is make people go to bed late. You can take that to the bank!
• You should take note of Answer Man David Brown’s interview with Platonic Man Matt Stairs. There are a number of great lines, but the good people of Bristol, Connecticut, and the proud alumni of Wheaton College are probably most excited about this exchange:

David Brown: If the Padres make the playoffs, is Chris Denorfia a lock for the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame?
Matt Stairs: When we do, yes. First ballot.

Though I don’t have a ballot — yet! — I’d probably cast one for Denorfia, who’s currently posting a 118 wRC+.

*As you probably already know, Nerdy McNerderson is of Irish descent. At least on his father’s side, he is.

New York Americans (7) at Tampa Bay (10) | 7:10pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Phil Hughes (7) and James Shields (8). Here’s something about James Shields: he has a 4.98 ERA and 4.31 FIP and 3.70 xFIP this season. His lifetime figures by those same metrics are 4.19 and 4.04 and 3.85, respectively. Curiously — I didn’t know this, at all — Tropicana field actually has a HR/FB park factor of 111. That probably goes some way towards explaining Shields’ career rate of 11.8% HR/FB.
• At the team level, a thing of interest is Tampa coach Joe Maddon’s bullpen usage. Rafael Soriano, his best relief pitcher, has the highest average Leverage Index when entering a game (gmLI), at 2.01 — which is to say, Soriano is pitching the majority of his innings in the most important situations. Jason Collette of The Process Report can tell you more about Maddon, Joe Girardi, and Relief Aces.
• You should take note of how James Shields’ “pitches backwards” — i.e. uses his fastball to set up his offspeed stuff (particularly his sweet changepiece). You should also use the term “pitching backwards” in front of your friends, the ladies, whomever, in an effort to impress them.

Toronto (7) at Baltimore (2) | 7:05pm ET
• Your starting pitchers are Kyle Drabek (20*) and Brad Bergesen (3). Question: Does Kyle Drabek really merit a NERD score of 20? Follow-Up Question: Is it even possible to score a 20 on something that’s purposely scaled 0-10? Answer: No, not probably. Follow-up Answer: Sure, if Carson Cistulli says so. Here’s the deal, really: Kyle Drabek is a prospect making his major league debut. I’ve experimented with a couple ways of representing this in the NERD scores. This is another of those experiments. Maybe a debut is worth 20, a second start is worth 15, a third start 10?
• At the team level, Baltimore appears to be having a disastrous season defensively, posting a collective -35.6 UZR that places them fourth from bottom in the majors. Some of that is Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins, who are now departed. Some of that is also Adam Jones, who’s athletic and probably a nice guy, but is also probably not a center fielder.
• You should take note of how Brad Bergesen is Sergio Mitre. Bergesen this year: 143.0 IP, 4.41 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, 49.0% GB, 4.91 xFIP. Mitre: 49.1 IP, 4.56 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 51.0% GB, 4.53 xFIP. Yesyesyes, most of Mitre’s innings have come as a reliever, but he’s also posting K/BB numbers pretty similar to his career levels. The real consideration is this: Is being Sergio Mitre a bad thing? Answer: No, probably not. Were he able to stay healthy, Mitre would be a perfectly serviceable starter. Bergesen, only 25, appears to be on that same career path. His upside is almost nil, but if you put a an above-average infield defense behind him, it’s possible that his ERA creeps below 4.00 for a couple seasons.

Also Playing
These games are very likely playing at some kind of sporty channel near you.

pNERD = Pitcher NERD
Game = Time and Average NERD for Game
* = Estimated NERD

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

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Carson, these pieces are great but when will we get an opinion piece or another rigorous dissertation? I would love to see your analysis of these pennant races, the Cy Young war (wins and CC? Innings pitched/ERA and Felix? HR/9 and Liriano…?), Colby Lewis’ recent awefulness (15 ER’s in 3 starts, what gives?) or the other stories in the league.

And, will we ever see another piece like “The Long Hello: Some Notes on Luck” or “I’m Not a Player, I Just Crush a Lot: A Taxonomy of Statnerd Heroes” again?