Michael Wacha struck out 175 batters last year. Only 32 went down looking at strike three. This year, Wacha already has caught 16 batters looking (out of 38 strikeouts).
Wacha is also getting the double play at an accelerated rate compared to last year. Of the 144 batters he faced in DP opportunities last year, he only got the DP from 9 of them (6.3%). This year, he already has 6 ground-ball double-plays in just 27 chances (22.2%). The team ratio has been pretty consistent – 11.6% last year and 11.7% so far this year. Jaime Garcia’s 18.3% lead the team last year.
Adam Wainwright has already faced runner-at-third-less-than-two-out situations 18 times in his first 40 innings. The run has scored 11 times (61.1%). Michael Wacha has already allowed 5 of 6 to score, and Mike Leake has allowed all five of his. These three pitchers have allowed that runner in from third 21 of 29 times (72.4%). The entire rest of the staff has only allowed 14 of 36 to score (38.9%).
Of the 253 swings batters have taken at Jaime Garcia’s pitches this year, they have missed 63 (24.9%). He currently holds the starting staff’s highest swing-and-miss percentage. Carlos Martinez is second, getting misses on 20.2% of the swings against him. Carlos led the staff last year, getting 23.4% misses. Garcia was at 19.9% in 2015.
Mike Leake has the fewest strikeouts of any of the starters with 22 in 34.1 innings over 6 starts. Thirteen of those strike outs have been looking. His 59.1% is the highest percent on the team, with Wacha ranking second at 42.1%. Of course, Leake is only carrying an 11.3% swing-and-miss ratio, so his strikeouts would almost have to be looking. Leake also leads the rotation in percentage of pitches that are strikes (67.1%) and fewest pitches per plate appearance (3.46).
Seung-hwan Oh has faced 65 major league batters in his first 32 team games. Their approach to him has been cautious at the start as only 15 of those batters have swung at the first pitch (a team-low 23.1%). It hasn’t seemed to help them too much yet. Of the 136 of his pitches that they have swung at, they have missed 58 – a team-leading 42.6%. The next highest on the staff is Kevin Siegrist, who is missing bats at a 30.1% rate.
Jonathan Broxton has faced the most double-play opportunities on the staff without getting a double-play. He is 0-for-14 thus far on the season.
Opponents have come up swinging against Tyler Lyons so far this season. 24 of the 57 batters he’s faced (42.1%) have swung at his first pitch – a more aggressive rate than anyone else on the staff. Only 25.1% (64 of 255) swung at his first offering last year. Trevor Rosenthal is next highest at 38.6%.
It does make for faster at bats, though. Tyler is throwing a team-low 3.32 pitches per plate appearance.
Kevin Siegrist has been the most enticing pitcher on the staff so far. Nobody is getting batters to swing at half of their pitches, but Siegrist is closest at 49.3% (103 of his 209 pitches). Siegrist, not coincidentally, also throws the highest percentage of strikes overall (68.4%). You would think, therefore, that his pitches per plate appearances would be relatively low, but he checks in third highest on the team at 4.02 (behind Rosenthal’s 4.77 and Oh’s 4.43).
Perhaps no number conveys the unsettled nature of the pitching staff (and, in fact the team) than this. Last season, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal ranked sixth and seventh on the team in batters faced (just behind the guys in the rotation) with 312 and 287. Through 32 games so far this season, they rank eleventh and twelfth – the lowest totals on the staff – with 52 and 44 respectively (Matt Bowman is tied for eleventh with 52). So high a percentage of our games have been relatively noncompetitive (on one side or the other) that our presumptive back-of-bullpen weapons have become the least used pitchers on our staff.