Coming off a couple of tough defeats, the Royals needed a shot of adrenaline to jump start their club. Jeremy Guthrie was the man on Wednesday, throwing seven innings of three hit, one run ball to keep the Royals in the game before handing it off to the bullpen.
Guthrie is a confounding pitcher. A pitching wizard. Take Wednesday, for example. Guthrie delivered a performance of quality, but it’s a performance he won’t be repeating too frequently. It’s not difficult to see that when digesting some of the numbers.
— Twelve of Guthrie’s outs were recorded on the ground, compared to seven in the air. For the game according to FanGraphs, Guthrie posted a ground ball rate of 57 percent. Compare that to his seasonal rate of around 43 percent. We know Guthrie has a home run problem (and that’s being kind) so it behooves him to keep the ball on the ground. That’s something he doesn’t do, but he was able to on Wednesday.
— Guthrie threw first pitch strikes to 10 of the 26 batters he faced. That’s a rather thin 38 percent first strike rate. For the season, league average is around 60 percent and Guthrie has outpaced his counterparts, posting a 67 percent first strike rate. It reasons that he can’t afford to fall behind in the count. I mean, that’s kind of an obvious statement, but it applies double to a pitcher like Guthrie who doesn’t miss many bats. The league is hitting .301/.333/.603 against Guthrie when he starts the plate appearance with ball one. Ummm… That’s not good. Despite regularly falling behind in the count, he surrendered only two hits after throwing ball one to open the plate appearance.
— White Sox hitters swung and missed only four times. Guthrie threw an even 100 pitches. I love simple math. That’s a four percent swinging strike rate. For the season, he gets a swing and a miss just under six percent of the time. Not a huge difference, but there’s not far to go when you’re already at six percent.
— Guthrie gets most of his swing and misses against his change and slider. Both pitches generate a whiff around 10 percent of the time. On Wednesday, he threw 19 sliders and got one swing and miss. Tip your cap to the White Sox for laying off the slider. They swung only four times, according to Brooks Baseball. He also had a single swing and miss against his change, although he threw 14 of those.
From Brooks Baseball, Guthrie’s velocity chart is a model of consistency.
Guthrie threw five curves all night, none after pitch number 48. The massive dip around pitch 79 is his slow curve he will play with on rare occasions. Pitch f/x classified it as an eephus. And it was awesome.
It was a masterful performance. You could say Guthrie drove Uncle Hud’s bus on Wednesday. (Even though that sounds kind of NSFW.) As much as I loved it and as much as the Royals needed it, but the numbers suggest this is a performance we won’t be seeing too frequently. But as I said at the top of the post, Guthrie seems to have a knack of coming up roses in important spots. I tip my blogging cap in his direction. And hope he continues pulling those rabbits out of his magic hat.