Below is an excerpt of great article written by Jeff Sullivan about my guy lucky 11. It was just a few years ago that Clay was among the lead leaders in ERA in 2010 going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA across 177 innings.
3 Years later he has a 1.51 ERA with 90 Ks in 95 innings. I can not wait to see what he is capable of over a healthy 200 inning season. I know that this year’s team maybe one of the best the Sox have been in a generation, but how much better could it have been with out #11’s 3 month sabbatical.
Against righties, Buchholz has gotten his called strikeouts over the outer half, or near the outer edge. Against lefties, he’s alternated inner and outer edges. Know that the strike-zone boxes are included just as reference points, and they’re hastily-produced approximations.
All of his called strikeouts against lefties have come on fastballs, sinkers, or cutters — or, some variation of heat. Most of the inside ones have been sinkers tailing back over the inner edge. Most of the outside ones have been cut, with Buchholz targeting the back door. A sample, featuring James Loney:
His three most inside called strikeouts against righties have come on curves. For much of the rest, we find those back-door sinkers, with Buchholz taking full advantage of his horizontal movement. A sample, featuring Jayson Nix:
If you take a look at Z-Swing%, Buchholz, rather unsurprisingly, is in the group with the lowest rates. Batters have taken a lot of strikes, and not just in two-strike counts. More interestingly, from last year, Buchholz’s O-Swing% is unchanged. His Z-Swing% is down from 63% to 57%. So batters have swung less often, but only at pitches in the zone, which is an encouraging thing to see for a pitcher. Something else that most certainly helps: Buchholz has been given a more friendly zone this season. One in eight pitches out of the zone have been called strikes, against a league average of one in 14. Implied is that Buchholz has pitched to good receivers, and implied also is that Buchholz has done well pitching to spots right near edges. That’s where called strikes are found, and that’s where called strikeouts are found.
Looking back, Buchholz has generated a remarkable amount of called strikeouts. The big question, then, is what to make of this for the future.
Lets just remember what this kid did in his 2nd career major league start in 2007: Just a nasty curveball for a called strike 3. NO HITTER!
Love looking at fangraphs.com Thank you for the daily insight!