As stated in my post the other night, I wanted to do a little something on Derek Lowe’s season since he was designated for assignment recently. Looking at 8-10 record and the numbers below, it makes sense as to why he had to go:
|Year||Games Started||Batting Average||On Base Percentage||BABIP||Hits Allowed||Total Bases||Strikeouts||Walks|
However, through May 15th (A complete Game victory against the Minnesota Twins with 0 strikeouts) Lowe was 6-1 with a 2.05 Earned Run Average. So, I had to ask myself, what made him so effective during this time? Well, of course the answer deals with Lowe’s ability to get outs (usually ground ball) with his sinker. Below is a heat map that showcases hitters batting average against Lowe’s sinker through his complete game victory on May 15th.
As the chart indicates, blue areas were where hitters had a high average (.400 and above) During his first 8 starts, there seems to be a small area of blue in the strike zone, and it makes sense that this area is located in the upper half of the strike zone. Now, take a look at hitters average against Lowe’s sinker from May 16th-July 31st:
Check out the gigantic blue area in that map. The interesting thing is that there is virtually zero difference in the speed, break, and location of Lowe’s sinker during either period of time. Truly puzzling if you ask me.
In my opinion, it could possibly have boiled down to hitters realizing that they needed to sit on Lowe’s sinker. Through July 31st, his last start as an Indian, he had thrown 1,321 sinkers (66.7% of his pitches), second highest in baseball (Fellow Indian Justin Masterson leads the league with over 1,700 sinkers). I understand that the sinker can be a ground ball machine, but why do pitchers feel the need to exclusively rely on it?
Derek can continue to rely on it…just not in and Indians uniform.