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NLDS Game 1 - Power Yields to Finesse

Cliff Lee's post-season debut turned into a complete game gem. Losing a shutout in the 9th was not completely Lee's fault, but, as it goes with baseball, your success as a pitcher isn't your own, either. Lee's finesse game matched-up against Ubaldo Jimenez and his power game, and came out ahead. While the game started as a pitcher's dual, the Phillies blew it open

Age and handedness aside, there is one stark difference from Game 1 of the 2009 post-season - velocity. Jimenez broke 100 six times, 101 twice (101.4 max) and never fell below 95. Lee, meanwhile, only hit 95 twice (95.2 on the sinker and 95.1 on the four-seam).


Jimenez # MPH
Change 19 88.5
Curve 12 80.2
Fastball 42 98.5
Slider 10 87.9
Lee # MPH
Change 14 85.7
Curve 6 76.8
Sinker 35 93.2
Fastball 27 92.3
Cutter 26 87.7
Slider 2 78.8

Here are my usual favorites. Starting with pitches in the "wide" zone, swing rate, ump's B:CS ratio, swings out of zone (Chase) and takes in it (Watch)

# IWZ Swing B:CS Chase Watch
Jimenez 83 .566 .434 2.4 .222 .404
Lee 110 .655 .455 1.2 .211 .417


Cliff Lee threw more strike than anyone in in 2009, including Ted Lilly. A .6 strike rate is excellent. Even for a single game, .655 is ridiculous. Jimenez, with a .566 strike rate, also did well. He simply got out pitched, in this area.

This next set is a little surprising. Lee missd more bats, Jimenez got more grounders.

# Whiff SLGCON GB% FB% PU% LD%
Jimenez 83 0.139 0.688 50% 25% 0% 25%
Lee 110 0.160 0.333 37% 37% 11% 15%


The Phillies were able to square up a lot of pitches against Jimenez.  Lee's cutter was the money pitch, with 67% grounders and 17% pop-ups (the rest of the infield flies were off his four-seamer). Although a sinker thrown for a strike more than three times out of four is pretty nasty.

Moving into run values, negative is better for pitchers, you'll see Jimenez gave up more hits and total bases than expected (rv100E is based on batted ball, or contact, type instead of single/double/out etc) while Lee was dramatically skewed the other way.

# rv100 rv100E
Jimenez 83 1.32 0.03
Lee 110 -3.38 -1.06


Simply put, Lee had it going all day. Jimenez was fine, if not better, at the outset.


First four inn. # rv100 rv100E
Jimenez 37 -6.66 -2.30
Lee 46 -3.07 -1.41


I'd say Jimenez was better at the start. I was only able to listen to the game and "see" it via PITCHf/x - did it look that way to you?