A statistical look at the Lions, Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, Spartans and Wolverines

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Know thy enemy: Jeremy Sowers

The Tigers are squaring off tonight against the man, the myth and the legend: Jeremy Sowers. Ok. Maybe he is a bottom of the rotation starter who we should have a good chance of mashing tonight. One or the other.

Sowers is a 6'1" 180 lb lefty with a 5.15 ERA and the peripheral numbers that suggest that his ERA is no fluke. He has a 4.77 FIP and a rather low LOB % of 67.7. On the one hand, that would suggest that his ERA might come down some. On the other hand, his xFIP is 5.27 and his tRA is 4.95. His ERA might come down a little, but he is no world beater. At best, he is a serviceable back of the rotation starter, and I am not a big fan of his "stuff."

Sowers has a K/9 ratio of 4.45 (well below average) and a BB/9 ratio of 3.76 (slightly above average). Put the two together and a K/BB ratio of 1.19 leaves much to be desired. His WHIP and opp. batting average are also above league averages.

Sowers has a 1.07 GB/FB ratio, so we should see a mixture of groundballs and flyballs. He also is the type of pitcher that we have struggled with at times this season. While he is a lefty and that is a good matchup for us, we have just an OPS+ of 96 against FB/GB pitchers and an OPS+ of 93 against finesse pitchers. This finesse lefty is exclusively a 3 pitch pitcher. Sowers comes at hitters with a 88 MPH fastball-type pitch nearly 75% of the time. He also relies on a slider and changeup. According to Fan Graphs, his slider is his best pitch this season, and even that pitch is just slightly above 0 runs saved.

As for what we should expect tonight... we should see a lot of contact made on his pitches. He does not strike out a lot, and opposing batters connect on 87% of his pitches (the average is a little below 81%). He also has traditional splits as right handed batters fare better against him than lefties do. So, we should see Maggs, Thames, Everett and Raburn in the lineup today. Something that does not go in our favor is that Sowers has been a much better pitcher at home this season. He has a 4.38 ERA at home and a 6.18 ERA on the road. On the other hand, we have fared very well against him in the past. In his previous 5 starts against us, he has a 6.66 ERA. Granderson (surprisingly?), Thames and Cabrera all have 8+ at bats against him and an OPS above 1.000. Ordonez, for whatever reason, is just 1 for 8 against him and has a .425 OPS.

In summary, Sowers is a below league average starting pitcher who is a soft tossing lefty that performs better at home. This season, we have struggled against some guys like that but the past success against him is encouraging. I am going to go against my better judgement and guess that we are going to give Porcello a lot of run support tonight.

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