Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lucas Harrell said all three of his starts were different

With all due respect to Lucas Harrell, he's kind of wrong. He told Mark Berman this morning that, "All three of my starts were way different. The ball caught here, the ball caught there. Bounce this way, bounce that way....all three of my starts were way different. Just one of those things, bad luck."

First, let's start with the inefficency. In his season debut, an 11-1 loss to the Angels, 38 of his 76 pitches were for strikes and there were only three swings and misses. That's a 50% strike-to-pitch ratio. In his second start, a 7-3 loss at Toronto, Harrell threw 107 pitches and got 59 strikes...six of them swinging. That's a 55.1% strike-to-pitch ratio. And in his third start, last night's 4-2 loss to the Royals, 56 of his 101 pitches were for strikes with seven swinging strikes - a 55.4% strike-to-pitch ratio.

In all, Harrell threw 284 pitches, and 153 of them for strikes for a 53.9% Strike rate. So far this season, starters across the other 29 MLB teams have thrown 37646 pitches with 23957 of those pitches for strikes - or a 63.6% Strike rate. In those three starts, 32% of his pitches were in the strike zone. That's not efficient.

Even less efficient is his pitch per out ratio. Harrell needed 284 pitches to record 37 outs, or 7.68 pitches per out, and he faced 66 batters - 4.3 pitches per batter. If we use the total pitch data from the previous paragraph, the other 29 teams' starters needed 37646 pitches in 2313.1IP - or 6940 outs, which works out to be 5.42 pitches per out. Also, the other 29 teams' starters have faced 9821 batters, working out to 3.83 pitches per batter. So Harrell was throwing an extra pitch to every second batter, and needed an extra 2.26 pitches per out. And we're not just talking about every other team's ace.

Now was Lucas Harrell unlucky, as he mentioned? The Astros are shifting far more than any other team in baseball and the problems he's had with the shift are well-documented. And, despite the hell that (Not Hank) Aaron has caught for mentioning BABIP, it's worth noting that Harrell's BABIP is .370, where the rest of MLB's starters are averaging a .295 BABIP. It's also worth mentioning that Harrell generated a groundball rate right at 50%. And 18.2% of the flyballs he's giving up are leaving the yard. Considering that the Astros - as a team, including Harrell - have an 8.2% HR/FB rate, he's the outlier.

In short Harrell threw too many pitches and the pitches that did cross the plate were getting tattooed.  Opposing hitters had a 100% contact rate on pitches thrown inside the strike zone. If they hit a fly ball, there was a higher-than-average chance that it would leave the yard.

Nope, Lucas Harrell's starts were pretty much the same.


Anonymous said...

Harrell's BABIP clearly indicates that he WAS NOT bad, he was just UNLUCKY. Poor guy, that meaty sinker was just finding holes. If the front office was sharp and understood baseball, they would know that it will regress to the mean, and the team can ride that regression to more wins.

(Not Hank) Aaron said...

I see what you did there, Anon, but that is exactly true. He was not a true talent 9.49 ERA pitcher. If he just had a normal BABIP, which he would regress to eventually, his numbers would start to regress to his FIP and xFIP. 5.97 and 5.14, respectively. Sometimes you can be unlucky and also really bad. That, in a nutshell, is Lucas Harrell's 2014 season. Unlucky, but still really bad.

Anonymous said...

Lucas who?

Anonymous said...

i guess it was bad luck that no one picked him up...

Anonymous said...

No. I'm sorry. Lucas Harrell wasn't good for the Astros for a year-plus. There's one thing that really grinds my gears and it's not taking responsibility for your actions. Sure, the SS COULD have made the catch if he was positioned differently. Not correctly, differently. But, if your sinker was sinking, we would have to have this discussion. Harrell didn't make pitches when he needed to. He nibbled on the strike zone when he should have simpily gone after a hitter to allow him to ground out or strike out. It's his fault, and his alone, as to why he no longer has a job with the Houston Astros. Man up!

Here's my back-handed comment. He he got fired by the Houston Astros, how is he going to find work anywhere else? He wasn't good enough to pitch for the worst team in baseball*!

*subject to change very soon.