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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Know they enemy: Brad Penny

Once upon a time, Brad Penny was a very good top of the rotation starter. From 2003 to 2007, he posted FIP's of 3.92, 3.59, 3.64, 3.89 and 3.63, respectively. That is remarkable consistency and good, solid seasons. The last 2 years? Not so much. Last year, he battled with injuries, had a terrible 1.21 K/BB ratio and a 5.27 FIP.

This season, he has been better but is still a disappointment in what has become an incredibly disappointing starting rotation for the Red Sox. He has a 5.20 ERA that is fairly representative of his play. He has a below average FIP of 4.58, a xFIP of 5.01, 5.06 tRA and 5.18 tRA*. Putting all of these numbers in context, Penny has been a below average pitcher this season and the predictive stats are not high on him reclaiming old glory anytime soon.

Penny has a 2.14 K/BB ratio that is slightly above average but he has mysteriously lost his ability to get ground balls at the same rate that he used too. For his career, Penny has a GB/FB ratio of 1.29. This season, though, his GB/FB ratio is 0.94. This has occurred during the same year that his fastball velocity is actually the highest of his career.

He is a 3 pitch pitcher this season. He throws his fastball roughly 73% of the time, his curveball 19% of his pitches and his split finger fastball roughly 8% of the time. In past years, he also used his changeup but he has since gone away from that and used his split finger in place of the changeup (hello, Jeremy Bonderman). According to Fan Graphs, his curveball has been dreadful this year and is -15.2 runs below average.

Penny's splits this year are nearly identical. Right handed batters hit for an OPS of .833 against him and lefties hit for an OPS of .812 off him. Also, in 3 of his last 4 starts, Penny has allowed at least 5 runs. So, he has struggled recently.

As for today's game, most guys on our team have not faced off against Penny too often. Polanco has 22 AB's and a .917 OPS against him, and Miggy has 11 AB's and a 1.545 OPS off him. Other than that, no one on the team has more than 7 AB's against him, and you really cannot gather too much from small sample sizes. Considering right handed hitters and lefties have hit Penny virtually equally as well this year, it will be interesting to see how Leyland will set his lineup. Laird is expected to play, and I would think that Everett would get the call over Santiago. Does Guillen DH? Is Maggs in RF, again? How about Thames, Raburn and Thomas?

Game time is at 7:10 on ESPN. Edwin Jackson is on the mound tonight and looking to build off his last start against Baltimore.

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