Scouting report: Red Sox-Angels Game 2


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 2 of the 2008 American League Division Series between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.


Gotta know this…

Starting Pitchers
Daisuke Matsuzaka’s best pitch is his slider—it was one of the ten best of all starters this season as the league hit .147 with a slugging percentage of just .213 against it. The Angels have had success both times they faced Dice-K this season by waiting for Matsuzaka to throw one of his other off-speed pitches. They are a combined 1-for-12 (.083) against Matsuzaka’s slider but 5-for-8 in at-bats ending with his curve, changeup, or splitter.

• Dice-K has a tendency to keep nibbling at the corners when he falls behind in the count, which explains why he walked more batters per nine innings than any AL starter this season. On the positive side, Matsuzaka’s stingy approach has helped keep hitters at bay when they have the count in their favor. Dice-K’s opponent batting average of .198 when he’s behind in the count was the best in baseball this season among qualified pitchers.

Ervin Santana has done a remarkable job of getting ahead of hitters this season—66 percent of his first pitches have been strikes, and 92 percent of the time one of his first two pitches has been a strike. Santana’s first-pitch strike percentage was just 61 percent last year, and 59 percent the previous season.

• In 2008 Santana threw just as many fastballs inside as he did to the outer third of the plate; 42 percent of Santanaâs fastballs were inside this year, up from 32 percent over the last two seasons. Coming inside should work especially well against centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who had a well-hit average of just .107 against inside heaters this year.

• Opposing batters do not have a hit against Jose Arredondo’s slider or changeup this season. They are 0-for-14 against his slider with eight strikeouts, and 0-for-26 against his changeup with 13 K’s.
• Rumors that Jonathan Papelbon was throwing his fastball too often in his disappointing September don’t pan out – he threw 84.5 percent fastballs in the month, a negligible increase from 83.6 percent over rest of the season. Hitters did find a way to handle his high heat, however. In September, opposing batters hit .429 (12-for-28) against his fastballs that were at or above the belt.



Dustin Pedroia, seems to fool opposing pitchers with his size. His 5’ 9" frame doesn’t match his hefty .493 slugging percentage, which was 4th best among second basemen. Pedroia saw more fastballs than his positional counterparts. The typical second baseman saw a fastball 65 percent of the time. Pedroia, whose slugging percentage is nearly 50 points higher, was fed 68 percent fastballs. He slugged .461 against pitchers who came at him with the hard stuff 7 out of 10 times or more, while slugging .341 against those who showed him a heater 65 percent of the time or less.

• The August acquisition of Jason Bay has been a stellar one for the Sox. One thing American League pitchers have found out about the former Pirates outfielder is how dangerous he is early in the count. Since dawning a Boston uniform, Bay is hitting .476 (30-for-63) in at-bats ending in 3 pitches or less. His home run in Game 1 came on an 0-1 fastball, and he later doubled on a 1-1 curve.

• The Angels need their speedy leadoff hitter, Chone Figgins to get on base. Figgins started the year with a bang, posting a .429 on base percentage through May, although he was hurt for most of that month. His OBP since is down to .340. Figgins was 0-for-5 in the Series opener on Wednesday. Lately, pitchers can rare back and go after him with fastballs. His 3 strikeouts in Game 1 were all off of heaters, and amazingly, he hit only 3 fastballs hard the entire month of September (in 46 at-bats ending with a heater).

• Torri Hunter appears ready to continue mashing in the postseason. Hunter owns a robust .615 slugging percentage in 17 Divisional Series games in his career. He picked up 2 hits and a walk in the Series opener. Watch to see what happens if Dice-K falls behind against the Angels outfielder today. Hunter launched a three-run homer off of Matsuzaka’s changeup on a 2-1 count, and singled sharply against Dice-K’s 2-1 fastball earlier this year..

Image of the day…

The Angels have 3 pitchers on their roster (John Lackey, Francisco Rodriguez and Jon Garland) with a better OPS against the Red Sox this season than they had against other clubs. The Red Sox, who were 1-8 against the Angels in 2008, had only one pitcher with a better OPS against the Halos than against other teams, and that was closer Jon Papelbon. The Sox will hope the rest of their staff can do what Game 1 starter Jon Lester did—go from terrible regular performances against the Angels, to dominating them in the postseason:

Red Sox pitchers OPS Against (2008 reg. season)
Pitcher Vs. Angels Vs. all other teams
Jon Lester 1.335 .670
Javier Lopez 1.238 .654
Daisuke Matsuzaka 1.091 .630
Paul Byrd 1.034 .787
Josh Beckett .918 .679
Manny Delcarmen .885 .593
Hideki Okajima .846 .596
Tim Wakefield .769 .685
Justin Masterson .684 .673
Jon Papelbon .000 .574
Total .937 .675

Key Matchups…

Red Sox hitters who match up well vs. Santana
David Ortiz     Big Papi slugged .588 in 68 ABs against other hard-throwing right handed pitchers over the past two seasons. Opposite Santana, he’s 5-for-9 with a homer.

Coco Crisp     Crisp handles the righty hard stuff well, batting .314 (11-for-35) against other pitchers who average over 92 mph with their heater this year.

Red Sox hitters who could struggle
Jason Varitek     He’s 0-for-8 with 3 strikeouts against Santana.

Dustin Pedroia     The majority of Santana’s fastballs fall in the 94-95 mph range. Pedroia batted .226 with no homers against fastballs in that range from right-handers this season. He’s also 0-for-4 against Santana, including 1 playoff at-bat.

Angels hitters who match up well vs. Matsuzaka
Mark Teixeira     Slugging .568 in 359 ABs against other top-tier, right-handed pitchers since last year and he’s 2-for-3 with a triple against Dice-K.

Mike Napoli     Napoli tends to do well against righties with a mixed bag of pitches like Dice-K. He reached base 12 times in 27 PAs (.444 On Base Average) vs. pitchers who fit that profile since last year.

Angels hitters who could struggle
Chone Figgins     Figgins was 0-for-5 in Game 1 and has a well-hit Average of .167 in 36 ABs vs. pitchers similar to Matsuzaka since last season.

Juan Rivera     Reached base just 27 times in 95 PAs (.284 On Base Average) against other top-tier, right-handed pitchers since 2007.