World Series Game 1 scouting report

World Series Game 1 scouting report
By Yahoo! Sports, courtesy of Inside Edge
October 23, 2007

Inside Edge, a leading baseball scouting and information service, will provide scouting reports to Yahoo! Sports throughout the MLB playoffs. Here's their breakdown of Game 1 of the 2007 World Series between the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox.

HITTERS

•  The Rockies will have a tough assignment in Game 1 against Josh Beckett and his mid-90s heater. Here is what Colorado batters have done against the five hardest fastballs they have seen this postseason:

Rockies offense vs. fastballs over 93 mph in the postseason
Opposing Pitcher Fastball Velocity (avg. mph) Rockies BAVG
Tony Pena 95.8 .143 (1-for-7)
Jose Valverde 95.2 .000 (0-for-5)
Juan Cruz 94.8 .000 (0-for-7)
Dustin Nippert 94.7 .000 (0-for-6)
Brandon Lyon 93.7 .000 (0-for-5)
Total 94.8 .033 (1-for-30)

•  Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins had no trouble at all with Beckett's hard stuff when they met in interleague play earlier this season. Atkins was 3-for-3 with a double and a homer; all three hits came on belt-high fastballs.

•  The Rockies found a way to win seven straight postseason games despite hitting only .242 as a team. They batted just .217 against fastballs while putting up good numbers against off-speed pitches (.280 BA and .452 SLG). The Red Sox led all playoff teams against both fastballs (.307) and non-fastballs (.297).

•  Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, a surprise offensive weapon for the Rockies this postseason, was locked in on Sox pitching in their June series. Torrealba was 5-for-11, with at least one hit against all three Red Sox starters and did not swing and miss the whole series.

•  The first four hitters in the Red Sox lineup batted .371 and reached base in half of their plate appearances during the playoffs. It will be interesting to watch how they do against Colorado's Game 1 starter, Jeff Francis, who held opponents' first four batters to a .136 batting average (3-for-22) in his two October starts.

•  J.D. Drew, whose grand slam in Game 6 of the AL championship series made him an overnight hero in Boston, was 0-for-11 when the Rockies and Red Sox met in interleague play earlier this year.

•  Manny Ramirez led all postseason batters with an astounding two-strike on base percentage of .586. The Boston slugger drew nine walks and logged eight hits in his plate appearances that reached two strikes in the playoffs. One reason Ramirez is so tough with two strikes is his uncanny ability to foul off close pitches. He has taken 42 swings with two strikes and fouled 26 of them (62 percent of swings) this postseason, which led all hitters with 15 or more at-bats.

•  Kevin Youkilis was the only hitter in the Red Sox lineup to have multiple extra-base hits in the June series with Colorado. His two doubles were both inside fastballs with two strikes.

PITCHERS

•  Rockies pitchers have been lights out when they are ahead in the count in October. Opponents have batted just .109 (11-for-101) against them on pitcher's counts, which is easily the best among postseason pitching staffs.

•  Colorado middle relievers Matt Herges, LaTroy Hawkins, Jeremy Affeldt, and Ryan Speier have each allowed only one hit this postseason – none of which came with runners on base. The foursome has held playoff opponents to a .105 batting average (4-for-38).

•  Boston's lefty reliever tandem of Hideki Okajima and Jon Lester have allowed only three hits in 20 at-bats that ended with their off-speed pitches this postseason. Okajima's changeup has drawn a swing and miss eight of the 19 times hitters offered at it. Opponents have missed Lester's slider four of the five times they have swung at it.

 GAME 1 STARTERS

•  The Red Sox have shown that pitchers who fail to work ahead in the count have a hard time beating them. When Rockies starter Jeff Francis tossed five shutout innings against the Sox in June, he threw 69 percent of his first pitches for strikes. That was his fourth-highest first-pitch strike percentage in a game this season, and will be a key factor again tonight.

•  Josh Beckett has been phenomenal in October and looks to redeem himself against the Rockies, who handed him his first loss of the season in June. One thing Beckett was unable to do in that outing was get Rockies hitters to chase his off-speed pitches. Colorado batters swung at only one curveball out of the strike zone against the Red Sox ace. The rest of the league chased his curve 33 percent of the time this season.

•  Beckett's fastball may have a little more life on it than it did when the Rockies beat him in June. He averaged 93.1 mph on his fastball in that regular season start. Since September, Beckett's heater has registered 94.8 miles-per-hour on average.

 
WORLD SERIES GAME 1 MATCHUP NOTES
JEFF FRANCIS (ROCKIES) VS. JOSH BECKETT (RED SOX)
Rockies hitters who match up well vs. Beckett
Garrett Atkins Hard to do much better than Atkins did earlier this year against the Red Sox ace. He took four swings and ended up with three hits, including a home run and a double.
Matt Holliday 6-for-14 lifetime against Beckett and 2-for-3 (double, HR) against him this season. Holliday has hit Beckett's fastball in all locations – in, middle, and away.
Kaz Matsui He battled Beckett hard, seeing 18 pitches in three at-bats while going 2-for-3 with a double earlier in the year. Matsui also has a way of showing up against A-plus right-handers. Check out his career numbers versus John Smoltz and Brandon Webb, for example: 23-for-53 (.434).
Rockies hitters who could struggle
Willy Taveras He may have a bunt-single up his sleeve, but that may be all he can do against Beckett, who held him to an 0-for-3 day without his best stuff back in June.
Troy Tulowitzki The highly-regarded shortstop has struggled in the playoffs offensively with 10 K's and hit just .213 (17-for-80) against fastballs in Beckett's velocity range this season.
Ryan Spilborghs Got the start against Beckett in their regular season matchup, but did not make solid contact in three at-bats against him.
Red Sox hitters who match up well vs. Francis
Manny Ramirez Hit two balls hard in three at-bats against Francis this season and was 11-for-22 against changeups from left-handers. Francis uses his changeup 24 percent of the time to right-handed batters.
Jason Varitek The Sox catcher doesn't do particularly well against other slow-throwing lefties with good changeups, but he did go 2-for-3 against Francis this season.
J.D. Drew He was 0-for-3 against Francis earlier in the year, but Drew currently has Fenway karma on his side and he led Sox hitters with a .464 slugging percentage against pitchers who are similar to Francis.
Red Sox hitters who could struggle
David Ortiz Big Papi may not struggle, but he may not get much to hit either. Francis hit him with a pitch and walked him in three PA's this season. Also, left-handed three- and four-hole hitters batted .230 against Francis this season.
Kevin Youkilis Francis is one of four pitchers to strike out Youkilis twice in three or less at-bats this season. Watch this matchup closely – Francis threw only four fastballs to the Sox first baseman in 13 total pitches when they met in June. Youkilis made outs on every pitch in Francis' arsenal (fastball, curve, and change).
Mike Lowell He was 1-for-3 against Francis this season, but the Rockies starter did not mix things up very much (80 percent fastball). Lowell's well-hit average against lefty off-speed pitches this season was .164 (10-for-61).
 


Play Ball! — Sign up for Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball today.

Updated on Tuesday, Oct 23, 2007 12:59 pm, EDT

Email to a Friend | View Popular