Can the Royals Score? Previewing Game Two

Jonathan Daniel

We preview this afternoon's contest against the Sox.

Nothing makes a team look more helpless than being shutout. Doing so on Opening Day makes it seem worse than it was. Doing so two consecutive Opening Days makes it really annoying.

Truth is, on a cold day against Chris Sale, a lot of teams are going to look pretty helpless. I am unsure whether Sale can hold up for a full season (he faded considerably late last season), but you don't want any part of him early on: especially if you hit from the left side.

This afternoon, Jake Peavy will confront the Royals. The almost 32 year old right hander will come at the boys with a fastball (four seam, two seam and cut), slider, curve and change. Early in his career, Peavy seldom used his curveball or the cutter, but gradually increased usage of both from 2008 on. In 2012, Peavy used his curveball more and his slider less:

  • Four seam fastball - 35.9%
  • Two seam fastball - 12.7%
  • Cutter - 15.0%
  • Slider - 12.5%
  • Curve - 13.1%
  • Change - 10.9%
Hey, Peavy has an arsenal and he knows how to pitch. How's that for some analysis?!

2012 marked the first season if five years that Peavy surpassed 200 innings pitched. He strikes out a batter less per nine innings than he did back in his San Diego days, walks close to a batter less and is bit more of a fly ball pitcher than he was in his younger days.

Last year, left-handers had decent success against Peavy (.250/.299/.415 - wOBA .309) while righties struggled (.209/.263/.351 - wOBA .270). Those numbers are pretty much right in line with the career averages. Jake Peavy is Jake Peavy. He is who you thought he was...at least when he is healthy.

Twelve million dollars allowed the Royals to send Ervin Santana to the mound today. Dayton Moore and those of us with some gut feeling that Santana will be better are banking on a string of solid starts in the second half of 2012 to propel Santana at least back into the ranks of 2 WAR (average fWAR and bWAR) pitchers.

Santana is going to throw a whole lot (that's a scientific term - look it up) of fastballs and sliders, with a few change-ups sprinkled in. Check out Jeff's great set of graphs from yesterday with regard to how Ervin (and everyone else) uses their pitches in various counts.

Always prone to the home run ball, Santana had a bizarrely high home run allowed rate last season. It's cold today, that will help. It won't stay cold forever (that is also a scientific analysis), so Ervin being an effective pitcher from the outset season will help more.

After averaging 92.5 mph on his fastball or higher throughout his career - much higher early on - Santana averaged just 91.7 mph last year. We have dissected him seven different ways on this site throughout the spring (all of which was negative in approach and certainly subject to 'group thinks, mob mentality and our deep seeded desire to see all things in blue fail miserably) and there was no real increase in Santana's fastball velocity in the effective second half of 2012 versus the miserable first half. I am not sure velocity is the key here, but I would feel much more optimistic if Santana comes out throwing 93 mph today than 90.

Other random thoughts:
  • After refusing to play much small ball on Monday, can Ned Yost resist the temptation to bunt early and often today? Should he? It's cold and another tough pitcher on the mound. Hell, I might actually advocate a bunt at some point.
  • The morning guys on 610 today (I know, I made a mistake by listening and luckily the later we go in spring the worse reception I get up here so I won't be so tempted) basically made this analysis: if you are into sabremetric, you don't care if a team wins or loses. I'm not lying. Pretty sure, Bob Fescoe and sidekick are the lunkhead party boys from high school who never realized that no one thought they were cool.
  • Is the 2013 Houston Astros lineup worse than what the Royals put on the field in the summers of 2005 and 2006? That said, Yu Darvish was filthy last night.
Gamethread to follow shortly before first pitch.
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