Warning Signs in Wainwright’s win

As predicted here yesterday afternoon, Adam Wainwright was able to pick up his first win since 2010, going 7 innings and facing 26 batters, both season highs for his 5 starts.  Of course, this was against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were averaging just 2.64 runs scored per game coming into the contest.

What might continue to be a little disconcerting is that Wainwright is still allowing a crazy high number of home runs per fly ball allowed.

Granted, the 30-year old still had 11 balls hit on the ground versus 4 balls hit into the outfield.

But the four balls hit into the outfield went thusly:

  • Top 1st – Alex Presley: deep fly out to CF (sinker)
  • Top 3rd – Rod Barajas: double on a deep fly to CF (cutter)
  • Top 3rd – Jose Tabata: home run to LF (curveball)
  • Top 7th – Pedro Alvarez: home run to LF (cutter)

The prevailing wisdom is that ground ball pitchers allow more hits, but fewer extra-base hits than fly ball pitchers.  So we know that fly balls tend to yield extra-base hits.  But through 5 starts – small(ish) sample size, I know – Wainwright is allowing a staggering HR/FB rate of 33 1/3%.

Between 2008 and 2010, his rate hovered a bit over 8% and the current 2012 league average is 10.5%.

Looking at the PITCHf/x data, Wainwright’s Pitch Value/100 for hit cutter is sitting at -4.18, his curveball -0.62 and his sinker -0.41.  The only pitch he has thrown for a positive value in 2012 is his changeup, which he is also throwing more often this season – 10.1%, up from about 8% between 2007 and ’10.

It might be that he hasn’t found his feel for his “bread & butter” pitches yet.  He’s been going (roughly) 45% sinker, 20% cutter, 20% curve, 10% change.  When the 3 pitches you throw most often are getting hammered, that’s a bad sign.

If Wainwright can find those pitches again, he can be successful again.  But, despite the win last night, he’s not there yet.

PIRATES (10-13) @ CARDINALS (15-8)
7:15 PM CT

PIT Burnett 1-1 1.38  0.5 2.87
STL Lynn 4-0 1.33  0.5 2.96

Why You Might Watch This: A.J. Burnett has surprised me with some strong starts since making his way back to the team, but Lance Lynn has been phenomenal.  Could be a fun game.

CUBS (8-15) @ REDS (11-11)
6:10 PM CT

CHI Samardzija 2-1 4.12 0.8 3.21
CIN Arroyo 1-0 2.70 0.6 4.16

Why You Might Watch This: The Reds are trying to get over .500 for the first time since April 8th.  This will mark Bronson Arroyo’s 24th career start against the Cubs.

BREWERS (11-13) @ Padres (8-17)
5:35 PM CT

MIL Gallardo 1-2 6.08 0.2 3.75
SD Suppan 0-0 N/A 0.0 N/A

Why You Might Watch This: SIERA suggest Yo should have fared better than a 6.08 ERA thus far.  The Brewers hope that’s true, because right now they can’t seem to get over the hump.

Mets (13-11) @ ASTROS (10-14)
1:05 PM CT

NYM Schwinden 0-0 11.25 -0.2 5.54
HOU Rodriguez 2-2 1.72  1.0 3.81

Why You Might Watch This: Neither team has a particularly thrilling record, and yet each might be called something of a surprise team, outplaying their low expectations.


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