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One Night Only: Doc Halladay v. Big Johnson

Tonight’s main event is of the “no-brainer” variety.

In other words, you can watch it even if you don’t have a brain.

Florida at Philadelphia | Wednesay, June 09 | 7:05pm ET
Starting Pitchers
Marlins: Josh Johnson (NERD: 10)
77.0 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, .286 BABIP, 48.5% GB, 4.8% HR/FB, 3.25 xFIP

Phils: Roy Halladay (NERD: 10)
93.0 IP, 7.45 K/9, 1.26 BB/9, .302 BABIP, 53.4% GB, 4.3% HR/FB, 2.93 xFIP

First, It Needs to Be Said
The NERD scores you see above are slightly different than the ones I introduced to the wide readership last week. One of the biggest flaws of NERD 1.0 was the total absence of velocity as a component. In NERD 1.1 — or whatever’s the nerdiest possible name for it — I’ve added the absolute value of each pitcher’s z-score (i.e. standard deviations from the mean) for velocity. That gives a bump not only to Ubaldo Jimenez (+2.23) and Justin Verlander (+1.95), but also to Tim Wakefield (+6.10) and Jamie Moyer (+3.30). I’ll submit a recalculation, probably with some other improvements, as soon as sloth allows.

Second, It Also Needs to Be Said
There are only five pitchers (out of about 160) with perfect NERD scores at the moment: Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Francisco Liriano, and the two guys pitching tonight. Actually, go ahead and add Stephen Strasburg to that list, just for Esses and Gees. Still, that’s not too many.

Watch For
• Roy Halladay’s Command. Is there a difference between command and control? I’m not convinced — although I’m willing to be. In any case, if there is a difference, my bet is that Halladay is likely an object lesson in such a thing. It’s not just that Halladay doesn’t walk guys — Doug Fister has about the same BB/9 — it’s that he owns the strike zone.
• Josh Johnson’s Fastball. Johnson has the fourth-fastest average fastball velocity among qualified starters. Not until I engaged upon this absurd experiment — i.e. NERD and its attendant concerns — have I truly realized how thrilling velocity is to behold. And it’s some combination of velocity and placement that gives Johnson’s fastball a 9.2% whiff rate on the season — compared to a 7% or so whiff rate across all major leaguers on same pitch.
Mike Stanton, Part Deux. The 20-year-old outfielder made his debut for Florida yesterday. Here’s his line from Double-A Jacksonville: .311/.441/.726. So, uh, that happened.

If I Had My Druthers
• Hallday would throw his cutter to lefties a whole bunch. Halladay can throw said pitch right at the back foot of a lefty batter. Like, he threw two of them to Chase Headley in the the third inning of his last start. Headley swung and missed at both. Voila: