GAME TIME 6:05 CDTpretty lively discussion at the top of last night's game thread about the reasons for adam wainwright's recent success. somebody attributed it to a higher groundball rate; sure enough, last night wainwright had them beating it into the dirt all evening (13 of 19 balls in play were groundballs).
but that's just one game. if we look at a larger data sample, the theory doesn't hold up: wainwright actually has been inducing more flyballs lately, not grounders. the numbers below come from wainwright's game log at fangraphs.com:
more important, batters have been hitting significantly fewer line drives against him --- just 13 percent of the balls in play over the last 10 starts. we can't expect the rate to remain so low; league average is about 19 percent, which is about where wainwright's line-drive rate stood during his period of bad pitching. going forward we should expect a few more line drives, and a commensurate downtick in his performance; the odds are against his maintaining a 2.82 era for the rest of the year.
my own opinion --- just an educated guess --- is that the main difference between wainwright's first 9 starts and his last 10 is pretty straightforward: in the more recent starts, he's been able to throw his curveball for strikes. we're a little behind in our wainwright pitch-charting, but once his data are up to date i will test that theory and see if it holds up.
it's hard to root against the atlanta pitcher tonight. buddy carlyle has been toiling away in pro ball since 1996, throwing more than 1100 minor-league innings --- but only 54 in the big leagues through last season. he has doubled that total in 2007 as an emergency back-end starter. after 5 shabby outings (1-2, 6.11 era), things have suddenly come together for him: he's 3-0 with a 1.73 era over the last month. jason simontaachi-type story; i hope the cards beat him, but you like to see guys like this have their moment.