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 the American League championship series Game 4 between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.
• Boston will start veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Game 4. While the knuckleball is in a class by itself, the Indians did rank third in the major leagues with a .272 well-hit average against pitches slower than 77 mph. Franklin Gutierrez was excellent against soft off-speed pitches this year. The young outfielder batted .330 (35-for-106) against pitches slower than 77 mph.
• The man the Indians want at the plate with runners in scoring position and two outs is Kenny Lofton. The 40-year-old outfielder is hitting .750 (6-for-8) with a homerun in this situation. All six of his hits have come off of fastballs.
• Sixty percent of Paul Byrd's fastballs that have been put in play have been hit in the air. That should be good news for David Ortiz, who batted .519 when he was able to get right-handed fastballs airborne this season.
• One massive bat in the Red Sox lineup would prefer the heat to be turned up on Byrd's 85 mph fastball. Manny Ramirez batted .214 (12-for-56) against right-handed fastballs between 82 and 88 mph this season.
• If Byrd is able to keep his off-speed pitches down in the strike zone expect the Sox hitters to struggle. They ranked dead last in the majors with a .159 batting average against low, non-fastballs from righties. No one has struggled more than Coco Crisp, who was 6-for-60 with 25 strikeouts against these pitches.
• Byrd threw his fastball 1786 times this season and a whopping 73 percent of them were strikes. That was the second-highest fastball strike percentage among AL starting pitchers.
• Which AL starting pitcher threw his fastball for a strike more often than Byrd? Boston's Game 4 starter, Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer only used his fastball 366 times, but 279 were strikes, or 76 percent.
• Being around the zone is a good thing, but Byrd will be particularly successful if he can hit his spot down and away from right-handed batters:
Right-handed batters vs. Byrd's fastball in the strike zone (from pitcher's viewpoint)
|Fastball Location|| |
• Indians relievers have delivered some nasty breaking balls this postseason. Opponents are hitting only .115 (3-for-26) against their curves and sliders. Ironically, all three hits were home runs.
• Wakefield has dominated the first three hitters in opposing lineups, but has struggled against the bottom of the order:
Wakefield vs. lineup spot in 2007
Hitters 1-3 in lineup
Hitters 7-9 in lineup
|Batting Avg.|| |
|Slugging Pct.|| |