These game notes are offered with supreme humility.
San Francisco at Philadelphia | 8:19pm ET
Giants: Jonathan Sanchez
193.1 IP, 9.54 K/9, 4.47 BB/9, .262 BABIP, 41.5% GB, 9.8% HR/FB, 4.11 xFIP, 2.6 WAR
Phillies: Roy Oswalt
211.2 IP, 8.21 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, .261 BABIP, 45.7% GB, 9.1% HR/FB, 3.45 xFIP, 4.7 WAR
The Phils Against Sanchez
According to Matt Becker’s game preview, Giant coach Bruce Bochy has shuffled his starting rotation, purposely pushing up Jonathan Sanchez to tonight’s Game Two in Philadelphia.
Becker writes: “One of the reasons Bochy decided for the change is because Sanchez was stellar in his two regular-season starts against the Phillies this year.”
So, some notes on that statement:
1. Obviously, the reference to “two regular-season starts” sets off the Small Sample Size Alarm in the baseballing nerd’s heart. It’s very probable that Sanchez’s season (and career) numbers — and the Phillies’ team platoon split — can tell us more about tonight’s match-up than two isolated starts this season.
2. As for Philadelphia’s lefty-righty platoon split, here’s what we get: per Baseball Reference, they recorded a 111 OPS+ versus lefties (relative to other teams versus lefties) as opposed to just a 102 OPS+ versus righties. Broadly speaking, the Phillies are probably better versus lefties than righties.
3. Even though Sanchez conceded only 2 ER in those 2 GS versus Philadelphia this season (the first at San Francisco on April 26, the second at Philadelphia on August 19), he didn’t actually pitch all that well. In 13 IP, his K:BB was 13:7, and of the 31 BIP, only 10 of them were grounders. If we figure Sanchez’s xFIP over those two starts, we get something like 4.60 or thereabouts.
The Giants, Oswalt, and Homers
Among National League teams, the Giants had the most homers in September (and October): 39 in 1048 PAs. They also had the NL’s highest HR/FB rate at 12.6%. Buster Posey had eight of the homers; Juan Uribe, seven; Pat Burrell, six; Freddy Sanchez, four; and Aubrey Huff, four. All are likely to start tonight.
Curiously, after coming to Philadelphia, Roy Oswalt saw his groundball rate increase to a level unseen since his 2008 season. After getting grounders on only 43.0% of balls in play with Houston this season — and 43.3% last year — Oswalt saw that number jump to 50.2% in his 12 starts with the Phillies.
There are obvious, and predictable, caveats here: 12 starts isn’t very many, and ground balls are prone to bias. BUT, it’s also possible that what we see here is Oswalt attempting to adjust to his new, more homer-friendly home park.
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