In Game 1 of the 2013 World Series, the Red Sox bats did a number on Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, with a big assist from some poor defense from Pete Kozma and the rest of the
Wacha has averaged just over 94 mph on his fastball in his 64 2/3 major-league innings showing the ability to touch 96-97 mph with some regularity. He primarily relies on just two pitches, using his heater 65 percent of the time, then going to his change 27 percent. He also has a curve ball and a cutter he can mix in, but he uses both pitches sparingly. While he doesn’t offer hitters a wide array of pitches to deal with, he hardly needs to. His change comes in at around 86 mph, giving it huge separation from his fastball, and he can locate both pitches very well to move hitters focus around the zone and wreak havoc with their timing. Since being called up at the end of May, Wacha has used that strategy to strikeout a batter an inning and post a 2.78 ERA and a 2.92 FIP.
One surprising thing about Wacha’s small body of work at the major-league level is his splits. He has gotten significantly better results against lefties in this early sample with a .227 wOBA against them compared to a .308 wOBA versus right-handed hitters in a very similar number of plate appearances against both. That isn’t what you would expect from a pitcher who has that kind of velocity and a killer change to go with it and there are reasons to believe this is simply a product of the small sample size. Wacha has struck out righties considerably more often while walking them just a little more often. His reverse-split comes entirely from the highly variable results of balls in play and home runs. Wacha has allowed RHH to average .305 on balls in play this season and lefties just .255. Of his five home runs in the regular season, four came off the bats of righties. These are the numbers that are least reliable in a small sample and it is very unlikely that this effect will hold out when Wacha has 200 innings or more under his belt, but the degree of difference makes this worth watching.
The Red Sox will have two power-hitting righties in the line up who struggle against change-ups and who are extremely prone to striking out against righties. One is John Farrell’s logical blind spot, Jonny Gomes, and the other is Mike Napoli. Farrell could avoid the issue with Gomes, but sitting Mike Napoli is not a reasonable option in an AL park where the DH is in play.
Between Wacha’s unexpected early splits and his arsenal of pitches, every at-bat that comes against the heavy-slugging duo of Gomes and
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