Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Galarraga: May 2008 vs. May 2009

I trust you all had a nice, productive off-day, and now it’s back to work. As we count down the hours until tonight’s game, I’m sure we’re all thinking that it’d be nice for Armando Galarraga to join in on the recent spate of great Tiger pitching, both because he’s on a personal two-game losing streak and because the seeds of doubt may be starting to creep into the minds of some, given his “unproven” status. For comparison’s sake, I decided to look into how he pitched last May. Here are the final lines from his five May 2008 starts:

May 2nd: L @ MIN, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR (also WP, HBP)
May 7th: ND vs BOS, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 2 HR (also HBP)
May 17th: W @ ARI, 6.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO, 0 HR
May 23rd: L vs MIN, 6.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR
May 28th: W @ LAA, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR

Without actually looking at the lines from his last three starts this year (‘cuz I’m lazy), the numbers seem pretty similar. He finished out the month 2-2 with a no-decision mixed in, but the only start he had that wasn’t shaky in some fashion was the May 28th start against the Angels, in which he fell two outs shy of a complete game. Perhaps May just isn’t his month (Indeed, it seems like he did his best pitching in April, June, and August last year). As I’ve said before, I’m not real big on sabermetrics and ultra-detailed statistics, so I’m not going to analyze batting average on balls in play or the percentage of swings and misses he gets on his slider, nor do I care to read anyone else’s analysis of it. At any rate, a couple things I have observed are that when he’s going right, he has a knack for making adjustments and limiting hits when the opposing team has guys on base. Big innings against him have been exceptionally rare, and given that there has been one in each of his last two games, you’d think he’d be on the verge of an adjustment of some sort. The problem is that he has struggled against the Twins so consistently that if he were to pitch badly tonight, you’d almost have to be forced to ignore this start and wait for the next one (Hey, the White Sox and Indians accounted for TEN of Verlander’s 17 losses last year; he’d’ve had a winning record otherwise). I can’t guarantee that he WILL be able to make the adjustment, but it’s still too early to say that he WON’T. And this is where I abandon all the numbers and stats and say that I’m totally rooting for the guy, because he is a great story and he strikes me as a very smart person, and I like smart people. In fact, I think the only pitcher on the Tigers’ staff that I root harder for is Verlander, and that’s simply a personal preference. I am just too softhearted for this business. At any rate, I figured I’d throw my two cents and lack of predictions out there.