Cleveland (92.3 The Fan) – Josh Tomlin gives up a lot of fly balls. As we’ve covered, he allows more home runs per fly ball of any active pitcher in baseball.
The Astros do not hit a whole lot of fly balls, ranking 26th in baseball with 32.1 percent of batted balls ending up in the air. When they do end up in the air, though, they leave the yard. The Astros rank 6th in baseball in HR/FB% at 14.7 percent.
Depending on how you look at those numbers, that would bode as quite a concern for Tomlin, who has not had the strongest start to the year.
Terry Francona did not think too much of those ratios.
“I guess I would hope that if they hit fly balls, that they don’t go out,” the skipper laughed. “I think sometimes, especially in a small sample size, those numbers can be a little bit skewed. They’re facing somebody that has two-seamers down, but then when they make a mistake, you get it up and they hurt you.
“Everybody’s making a big deal about Lindor’s launch angle. His swing is the same. He’s just now got about 1,000 at-bats under his belt and when they make a mistake, he knows what to do with it.”
The fact of the matter is, regardless of your stance on analytics, if you make mistakes, the Astros will make you pay. Josh Tomlin is prone to mistakes.
The nice thing for Tomlin is that Houston is middle of the road as far as hard-hit balls go, with 30.9 percent of batted balls exiting above 105 mph. That is 14th in baseball.
Lone Star Lefty
Dallas Keuchel has returned to star form after dealing with an injury in 2016, starting off the 2017 campaign by allowing just three earned runs over 28 innings.
In the early going, the former all-star has stranded 99 percent of batters on base.
Making matters worse, the Indians are splitting a paltry .213/.310/.318 against left-handed starters to start the campaign. That number is over 300 plate appearances against eight lefties on the young season.
“It’s not secret what he does,” Francona said. “He can throw to the outer-third of the plate against right-handers, and there’s so much movement to it that he gets so many swing and misses or outs out of the strike zone. It’s easier said than done, because there is so much movement to it. And then he can run the ball in on you to keep you honest. If you can lay off that pitch, maybe get some deeper counts or make you get it up, you got a better chance.”
The southpaw has been lethal with that fastball, which averages speeds of less than 90 mph. That fastball has been the key to Keuchel’s success, as his best years have come when his weighted fastball (wFB) value is above average. While the statistic is not predictive, the lefty’s three best years, including this one to date, all feature positive wFB.