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The best pitch one can throw

The success of the Cards’ pitching staff this year has come completely out of nowhere. I think we all expected Wainwright to be good but none of us expected Pineiro or Franklin to pitch as well as they have and nearly nobody expected Carp to pitch as much as he has. Additionally, Trever Miller’s been fantastic and Dennys Reyes has been more than adequate. Not all of them have been terrific but those who have are the same ones who’ve logged most of the innings and most of the high leverage innings as well. The primary reason for this, in my opinion, has been the staff’s lack of walks.

The Cards’ staff is far and away the league leaders in walks allowed. They’ve only allowed 2.8 BB/9 innings so far this season. The league’s 2nd place team in this category is the Phillies who’ve allowed 3.1 BB/9. League average is 3.5 BB/9. The Cubs’ staff is averaging 3.7 BB/9. The nearly 1 walk per game difference is a big reason why the Cards have a huge lead in the Central right now. I expected, therefore, to look at all NL pitchers and find several Cards among the league leaders in strike % and first strike %.

Using the numbers at baseball-reference, I found that 246 NL pitchers have thrown more than 20 innings so far this season and several of the Cards’ pitchers are, in fact, among the NL leaders in strikes thrown and first pitch strikes.

Strike % NL Rank First strike % NL Rank
Franklin 68% 8 67% 8
Pineiro 67% 12 65% 13
Carpenter 66% 22 61% 51
Thompson 66% 27 68% 4
Motte 65% 51 60% 81
Miller 65% 52 61% 65
Wainwright 64% 55 63% 27
Lohse 63% 86 59% 92
Hawksworth 63% 101 56% 165
Wellemeyer 62% 117 61% 53
Reyes 59% 218 51% 232
McClellan 58% 226 57% 140
Boggs 58% 230 53% 210

It’s clear that throwing strikes early and often has been probably the main key to Franklin’s and Pineiro’s success this year. Aside from that, we’ve got both Carpenter and Wainwright in the top 10-25% in the league in both categories. Miller’s way up there in throwing strikes and clearly it’s something Boggs needs to work on. I’m impressed that he’s had as much success as he’s had considering his problems throwing strikes – same w/ Reyes, really. Even Lohse is among the top 40% of strike throwers – not bad considering the relatively poor season he’s had.

There’s probably nothing here that’s too surprising but I wanted to see if the numbers would back up what we expected was true. I also wanted to see exactly how high Franklin, Pineiro, and Carpenter were in these categories. The answer: really damned high. Can Franklin and Pineiro, in particular, keep it up? Can they repeat it next year? I have no idea. It’s not an easy skill – being among the league’s best strike throwers. Neither of them have tremendous stuff – as Carp and Wainwright do – so they’re going to have to survive on their strike throwing and a 2-3% dip could have a pretty hefty impact on their overall performance.

Early game today. I’ll be working. Game thread goes up around 1-ish as the Cards go for the sweep!

Notice: I'm an idiot and accidentally pressed publish instead of "schedule to publish" and I can't seem to undo it so I'm interrupting a game thread to publish tomorrow's thread. Have at it! What an idiot!