How wonderfully awkward.
The last time Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia faced off, we were treated to one of the best pitcher’s duels of the World Series. Jaime Garcia shut down the Rangers for seven innings while striking out seven hitters, and Colby Lewis very nearly kept pace by lasting 6.2 inning and allowing one run.
How did Lewis and Garcia attack hitters in that start? What can we expect from them tonight? Let’s find out.
I’ve written about Garcia before in these electronic pages, but here’s a quick review for all the newbies out there:
Garcia throws five to six pitches — a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and a slider/cutter combo — but he is very specific about which pitches he throws in which situations. Against left-handed hitters, Garcia predominantly works his two fastballs and slider. Against right-handed hitters, he still throws his fastballs but uses his changeup more frequently.
Against the Rangers, Garcia stuck to his typical gameplan for the most part. He primarily worked his two-seam fastball and slider against left-handed hitters, and he mixed his pitched against the preponderance of righties in the Rangers’ lineup. The one main change is that Garcia threw his four-seam fastball much less frequently against right-handed hitters, instead using his cutter (AKA, fast version of his slider) 20 percent of the time.
Also, Garcia used his slider and curveball as his main out-pitches against righties, which might have thrown off the Rangers if they were looking for his changeup.
Considering how well this plan worked for Garcia, I’d be surprised to see him do much different tonight. He will want to make some minor adjustments to keep the Rangers from getting too comfortable against him, like using his changeup more as his out-pitch against righties, but in general he doesn’t need to make any large changes.
Lewis is a simple pitcher to preview. He features four main pitches — a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, and curveball — but he’s heavily dependent on his slider against right-handed hitters. Against righties, he throws hit fastball 50 percent of the time and his slider 30 percent of the time; against lefties, he throws his fastball 40% of the time and uses his slider, changeup, and curveball all about equally.
In Game Two against the Cardinals, Lewis was much more fastball-heavy than normal. He threw almost exclusively fastballs to right-handed hitters (78 percent) and mixed in just four sliders (10 percent), and he threw his fastball over 60 percent of the time to lefties. He also abandoned his slider against left-handed hitters, and instead used his changeup and curveball as his main off-speed pitches.
The reason why? I’m not sure if this is exactly why Lewis tossed his slider by the wayside in Game Two, but according to the pitch type values, the Cardinals are one of the best teams in baseball in hitting sliders. Will Lewis continue this trend tonight, or will he bust his slider out since the Cardinals haven’t seen it much yet? I’ll be keeping a close eye on him through the early innings.