Sunday, September 26, 2004
Considering Mark Buehrle
Mark Buehrle won his 15th game last night with another complete game effort - his third of the year. He's now 15-10 with a 4.00 ERA, which is a good (but not great) performance in these inflated offensive times.
In looking at Buehrle's stats over his five-year career, a couple of things stick out about this year. First, his strikeout rate is up - he has struck out 157 in 236 1/3 innings (about 6 per 9 innings), which is up from 119 in 230 1/3 innings in 2003, and 134 in 239 innings in 2002. Second, his walk rate is down to 51 in 236 1/3 innings (about 1.9 per 9 innings), which is good.
So with these two good things, Buehrle's ERA should have gone down significantly from his 4.14 mark in 2003, right? Except for....Third, Buehrle is giving up many more home runs this year than in years past. Here are his gopher ball totals since 2001:
There it is - Buehrle has given up 50% more home runs in 2004 than in 2003 when he had a 4.14 ERA. And you can't pitch out of a home run situation, those runs go on the board.
And you CAN blame it on the jet streams at US Cellular. Buehrle has given up 22 homers at home and just 11 on the road. Compare this to last year, when he gave up 13 at home and 9 on the road. Take away 8 of those home runs (assume they are solo) and Buehrle would have an ERA of 3.69...which seems about right.
In fact, Buehrle's performance has flip-flopped from a year ago in terms of home v. road performance. In 2003, he had a 3.67 ERA at home and a 4.62 ERA on the road. In 2004, he has a 5.33 ERA at home and a 2.77 ERA on the road. That is an absurd split, and speaks to the fact that US Cellular Field is playing like another Coors Field.
It's time to think about putting the fences back at US Cellular. More on this later, and why the Sox should be pursuing extreme ground ball pitchers like Derek Lowe and Matt Clement in the offseason.
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