After two one-run games, one of which has gone the Jays' way and the other of which has not, the Jays and Rangers play the rubber game this afternoon. The two pitchers are an interesting comparison.
Matt Harrison pitches for Texas. Harrison owns a very nice looking ERA this season (3.24), although his tRA, SIERRA, and xFIP are all in the low to mid-4s. Harrison's success has been on the back of an excellent groundball rate, although he has also been fortunate with HR/FB and runners left on. Harrison doesn't blow a lot of people away, but limits the walks and doesn't beat himself. This is his second straight excellent season in a tough environment for pitchers, so he's doing something right (getting tons of grounders in front of an excellent defense). The Jays did knock Harrison around back in May.
Henderson Alvarez pitches for the Jays. Alvarez continues to try to succeed with a very low strikeout rate (3.34/9 innings). Alvarez's groundball rate is even better than Harrison's, and his walk rate even lower, but he has not had any luck with balls in play and about twice as many of his flyballs have gone for home runs as compared to Harrison. Therefore, as you would expect, the two pitchers' xFIP (which adjusts HR/FB based on league average) are only about a quarter of a run apart - Harrison's is still lower given that he strikes out two more batters every 9 innings than Alvarez. Alvarez throws more strikes than average pitchers, so you'd expect contact rates to be higher for him, but in fact what's really striking is the extent to which hitters make contact on out-of-zone pitches against Hendo much more than against average pitchers.
I have to go into the office today for most of the afternoon, so unfortunately I'll be missing the game. We've been working on something big that I expect will make some waves (at least here in DC and in the States) in the next week or so.
Anyway, you know the rules. No streams, no posting gifs until the game is over, and don't be terrible.
Today's title comes from the song "Fort Worth Blues," written by Steve Earle about the amazing Townes Van Zandt.