Welcome to MopUpDuty.com’s first Toronto Blue Jays Series Scouting Report of 2014.
Series #1 – Tampa Rays – 4 Games
The format will evolve as the season continues; at times opposing pitcher scouting reports will be exchanged for the Jays approach vs an opposing lineup, an in-depth look at a teams defensive strategy, etc.
To start things off we’ll dive into the Tampa Rays four scheduled starters, their 2013 season stats vs Toronto and finally a look at their likely approach against the Jays.
Rays SP 2013 vs TOR
A true four pitch pitcher, Price is willing to throw his fastball, cutter, change or curve at the start of a count (0-0) and up to counts with 2 strikes.
When ahead (pitchers counts) Price will increase his usage of curveballs; his curve is the only pitch that he’ll locate inside to RHB, everything else is throw away
Take Away: With 2 strikes, Jays hitters need to be aware, look away and adjust when they see the hook
David owns LHB, holding them to a paltry .220 wOBA, with a 40 K vs 7 BB and only 2 HR allowed. Opposing managers realize this, as he faces primarily RHB (faced 3 times as many RHB as LHB).
Against LHB, Price heavily features his FB (77%), even shelving his cutter. He works away from LH, and really leans away with 2 strikes:
Price vs LHB with 2 Strikes
Game Plan: Gear up for the heat. Not an easy task due to release point and velocity.
Cobb challenges RHB, choosing to work middle-down in the zone with his fastball, change and curve.
Cobb’s pitching startegy against RB hinges on the count. When the count is 0-0, he throws only 6% changes. When a count reaches 2 strikes, the percentage jumps up to 52%!
The same holds true vs LH, 11% 0-0, with a 47% 2 strike. Cobb keeps his change away from LHB. One interesting stat is his 39% curve usage in 0-0 counts. Opponents are able to put together a 1.375 OPS with a .605 wOBA.
Game Plan: Attack early in the count, casting aside worries of the change and instead guessing FB or Curve in good location.
Moore’s change-up (.202 wOBA) and curveball (.197 wOBA) obliterate RHB. Oddly enough, he throws the pitch for strikes, and doesn’t dive either one out of the zone. Moore will come at batters, and luckily (for him at least) he’s able to overcome poor location (and a high BB rate) due to the quality of his stuff.
While his fastball can touch 95 MPH, it’s the pitch to attack. RH posted .393 wOBA vs the pitch and Moore leaves the pitch in right over the plate.
Moore doesn’t mess around with LH. His overall location heat map is entirely through the zone. He throws 70% fastballs vs LH, and uses the pitch to get ahead. He throws a good mix with two strikes, lowering his FB to 52%, opting to mix in his curve 33% and his change-up at 15%.
Game Plan: Attack fastball’s early in the count.
Chris Archer had an EXTREME split in 2013. He allowed a .341 wOBA with 13 HR vs LHB and only a .213 wOBA with 2 HR allowed vs RHB.
Like all of the above Rays–I’m starting to see a pattern form– Archer doesn’t mess around. He comes at RHB with his fastball 62% and his slider 38%. And that’s it.
Archer’s fastball against RH with 2 strikes was simply one of the best pitches in all of baseball last season. Over 46 outcomes with the pitch he allowed a .022 batting average, a .020 wOBA and a 37% K rate. Part of the success with this pitch is his location, with both the FB and his slider, both of which he throws at a roughly 50/50 clip with 2 strikes. Check out the location:
His slider location:
His fastball location:
Textbook case of changing eye levels.
LHB fared much better against Archer, to the point where opposing managers loaded up LH in their lineups— 314 PA vs LHB, 211 PA vs RHB.
LHB were able to post a .362 wOBA vs Chris’ fastball and an astounding .411 wOBA vs his change. According to MLB.com, Archer has refined his change-up this off-season.
Game Plan: Front load the lineup with LHB and remain aggressive against his ‘refined change-up’.
That does it for our first opponents scouting report of 2014. If you have any comments, suggestions, etc please include them in the comments section below.
Sources: ESPN True Media, B-Ref, Fan Graphs