Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fili's GOD for April 6th 2011: Tampa Rays vs LA Angels of Anaheim

Today's Game Of the Day is the Tampa Rays vs the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  

The Tampa Rays burst into prominence in 2008 when they exorcised the word 'Devil' from their name and won the AL East with 31 more wins than they had the previous season. 

This year Tampa is off to a poor (0 - 4) start and what better way to get off of the schneid than by returning to their devilish roots and starting Hellboy himself, Jeremy Hellickson.  And they are, you know, playing the Angles.

Hellickson is one of a seemingly infinite number of top prospects in the Rays' system.  In 580 career minor league innings, Hellboy has a 2.71 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 9.8 K/9.  

Hellickson displayed the same dominance in 36 major league innings last year.  3.47 ERA, 1.98 BB/9 and 8.17 K/9.  

Hellickson doesn't have the amazing fastball featured by many top prospects.  His fastball clocked in at about 92 MPH last season.  His devastating pitch is his changeup.  Hellickson through the changeup about 29% of the time last season, one of the highest rates in the league.  In contrast he threw his fastball only 53% of the time, one of the lower rates in the league.  

In the small sample, Hellickson's change saved 2.96 runs per 100 pitches.  If he had that rate for a full season he would have had the 3rd most effective changeup in the majors last year.  Behind only Felix Hernandez and Shawn Marcum.

Hellickson also throws a curve (17%, -.94 runs saved per 100) and a pitch labeled as a cutter, though that may be just noise since it was only thrown 1% of the time.

Hellickson shows good stuff with a 73% contact rate (88% league average) and 13% whiff rate (9% league average).  

Hellickson had some trouble with lefties last year (5.63 FIP vs L, 2.22 FIP vs R).  That's a very small sample though and it shouldn't be expected to continue so dramatically since changeups are usually effective against opposite handed hitters.  The Angels don't have much in the way of left-handed bats (sorry Bobby Abreu and switch-hitting Maicer Izturis). 

Whether or not Hellickson dominates tonight, expect him to have a good season and career.  

Hellickson isn't the only player going tonight.

The Angels' Dan Haren is an outstanding pitcher as well.  Haren had a down year last year; 3.91 ERA and 3.71 FIP compared to 3.23 and 3.12 over the last 2 years.  

Johnny Damon will be DHing (with good reason).


Hellickson was pretty awesome.  He struck out 5 in the first 2 innings, and 10 of the 25 batters that he faced while walking only 2.  He did give up a jack to Alberto Callaspo.

Brooks Baseball says Hellickson:
threw 99 pitches
38 fastballs, 24 for strikes, 2 swinging strikes at an average of 89.5 MPH
30 changeups, 19 for strikes, 8 swinging strikes
26 curveballs, 20 for strikes, 9 swinging strikes
5 cutters, 1 for a strike

Excellent mixing of his pitches.  Excellent strike rates and excellent swinging strike rates.

Hellboy didn't disappoint even though Tampa drops to 0 - 5.

There was another amazing game.

I only got to see Jeff Francis deal to a couple of hitters while taking a quick break from shingling my Grandfather's house.  I missed a doozy of an ending.

The biggest play, in terms of WPA, was Carlos Quinten's double with the Sox down 1 with 2 outs in the top of the ninth facing Royal's closer Joakim Soria with 2 strikes.

When the at bat started, the Royals had an 83% chance of winning.  After Quinten's hit, the [i]Sox[/i] had an 83% chance of winning.  Talk about turning the game in your favor.

The entire ninth inning was insane.  When the inning started the Royals were up 6 - 3.  They had a 96.5% chance of winning.
AJ Pierzynski grounded out.  98.5% chance of Royals winning
Morel grounded out.  99.6% chance of Royals winning
Pierre single. 98.8%
Beckham walk. 96.6%
Rios single scores Pierre (6-4). 92%
Konerko single scores Beckham (6-5). 83.4%
Quentin double scores Beckham and Lillibridge (6-7). 17.4%
Ramirez flies out. 20.8%

Gordon strikes out.  11.7%
Butler singles. 21.6%
Dyson steals 2nd. 28.7%
Ka'aihue double scores Dyson. (7-7) Royals now have a 70.2% chance of winning.
Francoeur walks. 71.1%
Escobar grounds into a fielder's choice. 64%
Pena grouns out. 50%

That is absolute madness.  The Royals went from 99.6% chance of winning to a 88.3% chance of losing to a 71% chance of winning to even odds-in one inning.

Baseball is awesome.

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