Pittsburgh Pirates v. Chicago Cubs: The Starting Pitchers
Oct 2, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
It goes without saying that every pitcher would like to start an at-bat with a strike. It also goes without saying that a mark of a good pitcher is an ability to battle back from unfavorable counts. For this stat, I’m going to specifically look at the numbers after a particular count. To me, this is a clear indicator of changed approaches from Cole and Arrieta and also indicative of both the pitcher and the batter’s ability to “fight back.”
So let’s take a look at how Arrieta handles his business at different counts in 2015:
Looking at these numbers, I have to admit I am impressed. At first glance, it seems as if Arrieta refuses to let opposing batters get a hit after he falls behind. He almost seems more content to allow a walk and start fresh with a new batter. The slashlines are all good across all of these counts as well.
Before we draw a direct comparison, we need to look at Cole’s stats at different counts in 2015. Here they are:
Cole clearly needs to start ABs with a strike moreso than Arrieta does. I believe that slugging percentage is a huge differential here and provides a good comparison point. In 1-1 and 2-1 counts, Arrieta has much better slugging against numbers than Cole does. This may indicate Arrieta having a harder go-to pitch for hitters to drive (his other-worldly sinker) than Cole, or it could simply indicate a better performance.
My conclusion here is that Arrieta does a better job of limiting damage after falling behind in counts.
For my next comparison, I wanted to see how both of these aces fare against the opposing teams later in games.
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