Friday, July 8, 2011

Barry Zito the Ultimate Front Runner Comes Through in a Squeaker


San Francisco Giants Barry Zito pitches in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco on October 2, 2010. Zito walked in two runs in the first and took the loss in the 4-2 game. UPI/Terry Schmitt......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Barry Zito is among the ultimate front runners, if his team scores some runs for him he is nearly impossible to beat. After the Giants shellacked the Tigers last week he ran up his career numbers in games where his offense scores 4+ runs a game to 112-6, good enough for .949 winning percentage.

The problem for Zito is that when he doesn't get the run support he looks like a much poorer pitcher. His record in games where he gets 3 runs or less is a much less impressive at 33-115.

More than anything this is probably illustrates that inefficiencies in pitching wins. If you look at the splits for these games his numbers are all roughly similar but maybe slightly better when he gets better run support.

Anyway, last night Zito was able to win a squeaker without his offense giving him a big margin for error. According to gamescore this was his 5th best start with the Giants and just the 10th time that with the Giants he did not walk a batter.

Since coming back from injury Zito has been excellent, and according to Mychael Urban the big difference is that he has dropped his slider from his repertoire. The fastball, change up, curve ball combination is what he had when he won his Cy Young in 2002.

According to Fangraphs the pitch has been fairly good for him being worth just over 1 run above average per 100 pitches but according to Urban to throw the slider he has to change his arm slot which has made his signature 12 to 6 curve ball less effective. The data seems to support this theory with his curve ball being less effective on a runs above average rate since introducing the slider.

It has been just 3 starts but the results have been impressive. Winning without a big lead and getting back to his roots as a 3 pitch pitcher. I hope that this is the start of something new for Zito.

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