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Best Pitching Match-Ups in Baseball

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Kenshin Kawakami takes on Livan Hernandez as the Braves meet the Nationals in Washington. Hernandez is tied with Ubaldo Jimenez for the NL lead in ERA at 0.87. Livan is taking advantage of an improved Washington defense, as he’s pitching to contact. The following table shows the percent of batters facing a pitcher who are putting the ball in play (BFP – (K+BB+HBP)), minimum 100 batters faced this year.

PitcherBFPInPlayPctInPlayERA
Craig Stammen 108 93 86.1 6.75
 
Livan Hernandez 117 99 84.6 0.87
 
Nick Blackburn 107 90 84.1 6.85
 
Mark Buehrle 160 134 83.8 5.3
 
Douglas Fister 130 108 83.1 1.29
 
Joel Pineiro 133 111 83.5 5.76
 
Jeremy Guthrie 159 130 81.8 4.78
Jamie Moyer 131 108 82.4 5.7
David Huff 138 113 81.9 4.6
Dallas Braden 149 120 80.5 4.14
Rodrigo Lopez 134 109 81.3 4.5
Joe Saunders 144 116 80.6 7.04
Brad Penny 136 110 80.9 1.56
Mitch Talbot 136 109 80.1 2.88
Carl Pavano 127 101 79.5 3.73
Ryan Rowland-Smith 127 102 80.3 5.28
Anibal Sanchez 112 90 80.4 4.32
Edwin Jackson 148 119 80.4 8.07
Chris Volstad 133 106 79.7 4.45
Kyle Lohse 123 99 80.5 5.28
Tim Hudson 127 102 80.3 2.87
John Lannan 159 127 79.9 6.34
Brian Bannister 130 103 79.2 3.48
Tim Wakefield 126 100 79.4 6.59
Kyle Kendrick 108 85 78.7 7.61
Rick Porcello 116 92 79.3 8.03
Fausto Carmona 138 108 78.3 4.05
Zach Duke 159 124 78 6.09
Mat Latos 116 90 77.6 5.47
Dana Eveland 125 98 78.4 4.76
David Bush 125 97 77.6 4.6
Brett Myers 143 112 78.3 3.82
Wandy Rodriguez 129 100 77.5 3.64
Scott Feldman 116 91 78.4 4.5
Matt Harrison 132 102 77.3 4.97
Scott Baker 154 118 76.6 5.35
Carlos Silva 125 96 76.8 2.9
Ben Sheets 142 110 77.5 7.12
Hiroki Kuroda 142 110 77.5 2.08
John Lackey 129 99 76.7 4.5
A.J. Burnett 135 103 76.3 2.43
Aaron Cook 133 101 75.9 5.52
Matt Cain 127 96 75.6 2.84
Paul Maholm 136 103 75.7 4.83
Roy Halladay 185 141 76.2 1.47
Randy Wolf 169 126 74.6 3.86
Luke Hochevar 129 97 75.2 6.11
Jair Jurrjens 106 79 74.5 6.38
Randy Wells 133 100 75.2 3.45
Max Scherzer 139 104 74.8 6.47
Aaron Harang 150 113 75.3 6.68
Matt Palmer 106 79 74.5 6.75
Johnny Cueto 120 90 75 5.33
Barry Zito 133 98 73.7 1.53
Jeremy Bonderman 116 86 74.1 5.74
Kevin Millwood 167 123 73.7 3.15
Derek Lowe 144 106 73.6 5.18
Jeff Niemann 117 87 74.4 2.76
Josh Beckett 159 118 74.2 6.31
Jason Vargas 101 75 74.3 3.6
Gil Meche 121 89 73.6 9.89
CC Sabathia 165 120 72.7 2.74
John Danks 133 97 72.9 1.85
Kevin Slowey 128 94 73.4 3.77
Dontrelle Willis 105 77 73.3 3.75
Justin Duchscherer 116 85 73.3 2.89
Clayton Richard 129 94 72.9 3
Ricky Nolasco 135 98 72.6 4.01
Mike Leake 141 103 73 2.94
David J Hernandez 124 90 72.6 4.55
Zack Greinke 160 116 72.5 2.27
David Price 137 100 73 2.34
Clay Buchholz 133 97 72.9 2.97
Andy Pettitte 136 99 72.8 2.12
Jake Westbrook 123 89 72.4 5.53
Roy Oswalt 134 97 72.4 2.73
Johan Santana 145 105 72.4 4.5
Mike Pelfrey 124 89 71.8 2.4
Bronson Arroyo 131 94 71.8 6.37
Adam Wainwright 144 103 71.5 2.13
Shaun Marcum 160 114 71.3 3.12
Ervin Santana 142 101 71.1 4.59
Jonathon Niese 133 94 70.7 3.1
Jon Garland 147 104 70.7 2.06
Nate Robertson 114 81 71.1 5.18
Charlie Morton 104 74 71.2 12.57
Gavin Floyd 122 87 71.3 6.49
Justin Verlander 149 104 69.8 4.5
Dan Haren 170 119 70 4.5
James Shields 141 98 69.5 3.38
Ian Kennedy 125 88 70.4 4.45
Chad Billingsley 117 82 70.1 4.85
Jaime Garcia 125 88 70.4 1.13
Kevin Correia 142 99 69.7 3.97
Homer Bailey 136 94 69.1 6.04
Oliver Perez 121 83 68.6 4.05
C.J. Wilson 136 94 69.1 1.65
Brian Matusz 130 90 69.2 4.4
Doug Davis 114 79 69.3 8.87
Todd Wellemeyer 110 76 69.1 5.55
Kyle Davies 124 86 69.4 3.52
Felix Hernandez 172 119 69.2 3.1
Javier Vazquez 112 76 67.9 9.78
Vicente Padilla 100 68 68 7.06
Ricky Romero 141 96 68.1 2.25
Jered Weaver 148 101 68.2 3.19
Tom Gorzelanny 117 80 68.4 2.48
Greg Smith 108 73 67.6 7.33
Ryan Dempster 140 95 67.9 2.78
Wade Davis 119 81 68.1 2.79
Jake Peavy 165 110 66.7 6.31
Cole Hamels 139 92 66.2 5.28
John Maine 112 74 66.1 7.15
Gio Gonzalez 121 80 66.1 3.45
Felipe Paulino 128 85 66.4 5.53
Matt Garza 140 91 65 2.06
Francisco Liriano 139 90 64.7 1.5
Justin Masterson 127 82 64.6 5.4
Chris Carpenter 155 101 65.2 2.84
Yovani Gallardo 155 99 63.9 3
Carlos Zambrano 113 72 63.7 6.56
Thomas Hanson 119 74 62.2 2.17
Tim Lincecum 133 83 62.4 1.27
Ubaldo Jimenez 160 99 61.9 0.87
Jon Lester 128 78 60.9 4.71
Josh Johnson 152 93 61.2 3.16
Colby Lewis 133 80 60.2 2.76
Bud Norris 111 66 59.5 7.25
Jorge de la Rosa 100 59 59 3.91
Clayton Kershaw 132 76 57.6 3.07
Brandon Morrow 120 69 57.5 5.46
Rich Harden 138 79 57.2 3.52
Jonathan Sanchez 122 65 53.3 2.48

Note that this concept doesn’t work all that well for Craig Stammen, even on the same team. He’s allowing line drives at twice the rate as Livan, so even though batters are putting wood on the ball off Hernandez, they’re not getting good wood on the pitches. In general, note that pitchers with high in-play rates do have high ERAs. Of the top ten, five have ERAs over 5.00. Seven of the lowest ten have ERAs under 4.00.

Kawakami is getting hit for power, as 11 of the 24 hits against him went for extra bases. He’s keeping things a bit under control by allowing a .231 BA with runners in scoring position.

Tim Lincecum and the Giants visit the Marlins as they take on Anibal Sanchez. The Freak needs two strike outs to reclaim the league lead from Ubaldo Jimenez. Lincecum hit double digits in strikeouts twice in his first five starts. We’ll see if Bruce Bochy pulls him if the game is late and close, as the Giants lost Tim’s last start when that happened. Sanchez is pitching well in terms of walks and home runs, but his high number of balls in play is hurting his ERA. He needs to get his strikeouts up.

The Rockies and Padres continue their series with Greg Smith taking on Wade “The Blank” LeBlanc. Wade posted zero runs allowed in 16 of the 17 full innings he’s pitched this season. Batters are getting hits, but that’s about it. He’s only walked four, and base runners are 1 for 5 against him and the Padres catchers. Smith is at risk for whiplash, as he’s allowed six home runs in only 23 1/3 innings of work. PETCO Park should help him with those.

Finally, the Rays travel to Seattle as James Shields faces Jason Vargas. Shields owns a 3.38 ERA despite allowing seven home runs so far. Six of those were solo shots, and he totally shuts down hitters when men are on base. Vargas appears to have solved the home run problem that plagued him in 2009, giving up just two long balls in his first 25 innings of work.