Padilla vs Goliath

Joe Torre almost certainly looked at a lot of different factors when determining his playoff rotation for the NLCS. However, after naming Vicente Padilla his #2 starter against the Phillies, I’m left to guess that he did not bother to look at platoon splits when making his decisions.

Padilla has pitched better than anyone could have expected since joining the Dodgers, running a 3.40 FIP in seven starts, then shutting out the Cardinals in the first round. However, Padilla has a long track record of having significant problems against left-handed batters. Below are his platoon splits this year and for his career.

2009:

Vs RHB: .246/.301/.363, 2.35 K/BB
Vs LHB: .303/.384/.453, 1.54 K/BB

Career:

Vs RHB: .241/.300/.368, 3.03 K/BB
Vs LHB: .297/.380/.479, 1.30 K/BB

In his major league career, he’s faced more than 3,000 batters from each side of the plate. He’s owned right-handed hitters and been owned by left-handed ones. This shouldn’t really be any surprise, given his arm slot and the amount of fastballs he throws from that angle. Righties have a hard time picking the ball up out of his hand, but lefties get a really nice view early on in the delivery.

This isn’t some small sample fluke. Padilla will always struggle against LHBs with his repertoire. And, wouldn’t you know, the Phillies have some pretty good left-handed hitters. Between Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez, Padilla’s going to be staring down one of the best collections of left-handed bats in the game.

I understand the desire to play the hot hand, and Padilla is throwing better in LA than he has in years, but this is still a really bad match-up for him. In this case, Torre’s simply weighting recent performance far too heavily. Pitching well or not, he’s still penciling in Vicente Padilla for two starts in the NLCS, and that’s not a good decision.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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DaveY
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

If you are going to start Padilla at all though, it makes more sense to use him in Dodgers Stadium than in Citizens Bank Park.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

It makes more sense to use him for one game at the Bank than two games anywhere.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
6 years 7 months ago

“I don’t put too much emphasis on playing the hot hand!”, says Joe Torre as he pencils Ron Belliard into the lineup at 2b.

RKO36
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Even as a Yankee fan I’m not the biggest fan of Torre. A bit too old school for me. Vincente Padilla is not good (and that’s putting it nicely) and has no business pitching against the Phillies in game two.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

A well reasoned argument using stats-clearly you need to get out of your Mom’s basement!

joser
Guest
joser
6 years 7 months ago

The thing is, Dave is in your Mom’s basement. :p

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

My mother passed away earlier this year.

Wally
Guest
Wally
6 years 7 months ago

So its going to be Kershaw, Padilla, Kuroda, Wolf for the Dodgers up against Hamels, Pedro, Lee, Happ for the Phils. Not using Billingsley because of one bad outing is a very poor choice. The Dodgers aren’t as good of hitters as the Phils, and are losing some of their advantage in pitching by doing this.

confused
Guest
confused
6 years 7 months ago

He’s had several bad outings this year and ended the year in a pretty bad slump. Its true that its been overplayed by the media, and they have no idea just how good Billingsley is, but he’s been far from good for more than two months.

bikozu
Guest
bikozu
6 years 7 months ago

I’d like to see an analysis on how much Torre’s stupid decisions regarding lineup construction and playoff rotation selection is going to hurt the Dodgers chances in the NLCS.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
6 years 7 months ago

As a Phils Phan, and a former fan of the “Padilla Floatilla,” I welcome Padilla with open arms. But beware of Padilla, he has good stuff at times, and his best work is when he pitches the cliched “just wild enough to be good.” Patience and looking fastball is the way to solve Padilla.

Xeifrank
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

The Phillies actually have hit left handed pitchers better than right handed pitchers this year.
vr, Xei

Denis
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

It is not enough that a pitcher makes launchings of 94, 95 and 96 miles per hour in the corners and a controlled change of speed and grandiose to win two games? Please we all know how the Latins have written the history in the MLB. Padilla will make an excellent work. Well made Joe T.

AB
Guest
AB
6 years 7 months ago

I agree completely. I understand the whole “what happened to Billingsley” angle has gotten played way up in the media.

Billingsley does have bad command/control but still had far better numbers on the year than Padilla–K/9, FIP, ERA.

Padilla is also a fastball-dominant pitcher, over 75% this year, and the Phils are a great fastball hitting team, going by both my eyes watching them every day and their team value against fastballs per 100 (1st in NL). And Padilla doesn’t even have that huge of a control edge over Billingsley, he is over 3 BB/9 himself on the year, pretty average

Billingsley throws a lot more junk (under 50% fastballs on the year), and it’s quality junk when it’s on. He’s definitely a tougher matchup for the Phils lineup, who did not hit curveballs very well on the season

So just that’s a mistake, and then Torre compounds it by moving him all the way up to Game 2, assuring him 2 starts in a non-sweep. Thanks Joe!

MGL
Guest
MGL
6 years 7 months ago

Let me take my sabermetric hat off and put on my scout hat. Padilla was a below average pitcher in the AL and a near average pitcher in the NL. When you watch him pitch, you cringe a lot. He throws “too many” fastballs (mostly because his off-speed pitches are not very good, especially his “slurvy” curve ball and for some reason he never throws his change up any more) and he does not have good command of any of his pitches, including his fastball. While he throws from 91 to 97 (for some reason he has a wide range in speed), mostly in the 91-94 range, batters simply don’t miss his fastball as often as you would expect given the speed. I suspect that his fastball does not have much movement, it is easy to “see” (certainly from LH batters, as Dave mentions), and of course batters expect it, as he throws it around 75% of the time and a lot more in fastball counts (I think).

I am not a huge fan of Padilla, although I think that he is around an average starter. I think that Wolf is better and I think that Billingsley is much better.

Torre has shown in the past that he can make horrible personnel decisions, like batting A-Rod 8th when cold or playing “I forgot his name” at third base, while benching a much better hitter, versus Pedro because he was like 5-10 lifetime against him.

Now I’ll put my sabermetric hat back on. I have Hudson and Belliard almost identical even versus a RHSP, so I don’t have any problem with Torre using either one of them.

As far as Wolf, Padilla, and Billingsley, it is not even close according to my current projections for those pitchers and my sim.

I have Billingsley winning 2.5% more per game than Padilla and Wolf, 5.5% more. That is a lot.

There is no doubt in my mind that Wolf should be pitching game 2 and that Padilla should probably be in the bullpen. In fact, with Padilla occasionally but rarely being able to throw 96 or 97 in a game, it seems like he would be a perfect short reliever. In fact, the only time his fastball is really hard to hit is when he throws it 95 or more.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

“I forgot his name”

Enrique Wilson, if memory serves.

lincolndude
Guest
lincolndude
6 years 7 months ago

This move goes against all logic, even old-school logic. Whatever happened to “dance with the one that brung ya”?

If I ever had any doubt that Torre was an idiot, it’s gone now. It’s unconscionable that Billingsley is not starting in this series.

Taking a start against a lefty-heavy lineup away from your lefty-killer (Wolf) and giving it to this bum? Ridiculous!

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

As someone pointed out in the Rob Neyer thread quoting this post, someone pointed out that due to off days, they could go Kershaw, Padilla, Kuroda, Wolf, Kershaw, Kuroda, Wolf on regular rest, but it still seems silly to me that he’s getting a start over Billingsley.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

I really wish we could edit our posts here.

/facepalm

Marcus
Guest
Marcus
6 years 7 months ago

I guess this is why they play the games and opinions are like Aholes….

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