Wakefield Split Stats
The Game 1 starter, as you know, is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Are there any advantages to be had?
vs. Left .225/.295/.360, 656 OPS
vs. Right - .298/.364/.514, 878 OPS
For the first time in the 2004 playoffs, the Cardinals are facing a pitcher with an obvious tendency to having problems with right handed hitting. Obviously, this is great news for the likes of Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. But is he likely to hold down the Cardinals left handed hitters?
Career vs. Wakefield
Jim Edmonds - .459/.474/.622, 1095 OPS, 38 plate appearances
Larry Walker - .286/.375/.714, 1089 OPS, 8 plate appearances
Looks as if those two have seen him pretty well in the past. The other regular that hits left handed, Tony Womack, as only faced Wakefield once, striking out. Considering the pain he appeared to be in last night, the Cards could consider starting Hector Luna at 2nd. That would give Womack an extra day to rest his back, and at the same time give the Cards a good split in the lineup. Renteria was fine leading off last night, let him take another shot at it in Boston.
From a DH standpoint, John Mabry could be an option. He's got 1 double and 1 walk off of Wakefield in 6 career trips to the plate. Or, to further take advantage of Wakefield's righty problems, Taguchi could start in left, with Sanders serving as the DH. Let So tackle the Green Monster - he is Japanese, after all.
OK, more splits. First, Wakefield on a month-by-month basis.
April - 2.14 ERA
May - 4.32
June - 5.70
July - 3.75
August - 5.03
September - 8.20
His July ERA appears to be a fluke, as batters hit a season high .307 average off of him that month. And in the playoffs, he's not getting any better. He's pitched in 3 games, no starts, and has a 8.59 ERA, 1.64 WHIP over 7.1 innings. He does, however, have 1 win in the 2004 post-season.
When you break things down by pitch count, there is no discernable trend. I would personally expect this from a knuckle ball pitcher, since the arm doesn't experience as much wear. However, if you break his splits down into blocks of innings pitched, there is an obvious trend.
Innings 1 through 3 - .261/.297/.438, 735 OPS Allowed
Innings 4 through 6 - .269/.361/.456, 817
Innings 7 through 9 - .254/.376/.437, 813
I think the above can most likely be attributed to hitters having more success off of him after they've seen him a time or two during a game. And that OBP allowed has to be especially troubling to Bean town fans. If he's allowing 1/3 of all batters to reach base from the 4th inning on, the Cardinals are going to put some runs on the board.
Finally, the Cardinals faced Wakefield just last season, in Boston. You probably remember the game - to me, it was a game that exemplifies last season to a tee, as the Cardinal offense kept doing what they needed to do to win, while the bullpen kept doing what they needed to do to lose, even though they pulled out the W. What game am I talking about? This one. Don't look if you would rather not be reminded of last year. Wakefield in that game went 6 innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.
In general, knuckle ball pitchers usually make me nervous. When they're on, they are next to impossible to hit, regardless of how they've pitched as of late. But between the way right handed hitters have hit Wakefield this year, the numbers Edmonds and Walker have against him over their careers, and Wakefield's bad 2nd half and playoff numbers? The Cardinals should be able to handle him tomorrow.
And, of course, the Cardinals do have Cody McKay to throw them batting practice.