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QotD: Math Is Not Manny Acta’s Strong Suit

2010/09/21
Manny Acta

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From Paul Hoynes’ game recap:

“We’ve stressed finishing innings a lot to these kids,” said manager Manny Acta. “But sometimes when they get two out, they tend to lose focus and concentration.

“When you have two out, you’re three-fourths of the way there.”

Math is not my strong suit, either, but I’m pretty sure that when you have two out, you’re only two-thirds of the way there.

(Unless sabermetric analysis now shows that the first and second outs weigh more heavily than the third, which, come to think of it, isn’t such a crazy notion.)

In other math news, Jeanmar Gomez is 0-5 with a 7.67 ERA since my post of August 13th.  Three disastrous starts have skewed his numbers, as Gomez has surrended fewer than three runs in seven of his ten starts.

What has gone wrong, then, for the right-hander?

As predicted, left-handed batters have hit better against Gomez in recent weeks, raising their cumulative line to .266/.319/.435.  But the damage has been done by right-handers as well: last night, Twins Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, J.J. Hardy, and Danny Valencia combined for eight hits in 16 at-bats, scoring seven runs and driving in five.

What else might be to blame for Gomez’s recent struggles? Perhaps just one pitch.

Among AL starters with more than 50 IP, only Wade Davis has thrown changeups to less effect than Gomez, whose change rates nearly 4.5 runs below average. By comparison, Jake Westbrook, the man Gomez replaced in the Indians’ rotation, throws a changeup that rates 1.3 runs above average.

There is evidence that supports Acta’s allegation that Gomez loses focus with two outs in an inning: hitters’ OPS against him rises from .759  to .803 to .962 with zero, one, and two outs, respectively. (The league average trends in the opposite direction, from .745 to .737 to .713.) Whether this is due to a lack of concentration,  a lack of stamina, or simply a lack of luck is debatable, however.

Fatigue might be a greater concern.  Gomez has pitched 52.2 major league innings on top of 116 IP at Columbus this season, 21 more innings than he has pitched before.

Whatever the cause of Gomez’s troubles, the Indians should take care of their 22-year-old hurler. He remains one of the best options for the 2011 rotation.

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