World Series 2013: Previewing Wacha vs. Lackey in Game 2

October 24, 2013

Game 1 was a blowout, the biggest in a World Series opener since 2007. Adam Wainwright wasn’t dazzling but Jon Lester was is good form. The Cardinal defense — with one bittersweet exception — failed where the Red Sox did not. Before shifting focus to the Game 2 starters, let’s put Game 1 to bed.

Wainwright: Cleary not sharp and unable to put all the blame on his defense. His curveball was inconsistent and did not generate the normal amount of swings and misses. He threw lots of cutters, including a bunch of soft, almost slider-like ones. His overall velocity ticked down on the fastball for the second straight game. Most notably, he didn’t break 92 after the maration second inning.

Lester: Nothing indicated he was doctoring the ball, despite various news reports this morning (you’d expect something odd in PITCHf/x, nothing showed up). He threw his most cutters of the postseason. His velocity was steady; touching 95 mph with his fastball until the seventh, when he topped out at 94. That was just before he tired in the eighth, where he didn’t break 93.

Game 1’s fastest pitches by each pitcher:
Carlos Martinez 99 (twice; also hit 97 with his sinker)
John Axford 97
Kevin Siegrist 96
Jon Lester 95
Junichi Tazawa 95
Adam Wainwright 94
Ryan Dempster 92
Seth Maness 90
Randy Choate 83

Martinez is electrifying, and Choate is whatever the opposite of electrifying is. But that’s the beauty of baseball — there are a lot of ways to get the job done.

On to Game 2…

Michael Wacha gets the ball for St. Louis in Game 2. Tall with an over-the-top release, the right-handed rookie wows the scouts with his ability to get great extension toward home plate. He’ll face veteran John Lackey, who has had quite the resurgence in 2013. More than a decade removed from his postseason breakout with the Angels, he’ll be making the third World Series start of his career.

Wacha Lackey
MPH usage MPH usage
Fastball 94 64% 92 49%
Sinker 92 9%
Curveball 77 7% 80 10%
Changeup 87 27% 84 2%
Cutter* 89 2% 86 30%

*Lackey’s pitch can be called a cutter or a slider; he seems to alternate between the two himself.

Thanks to his frame and extension, Wacha’s fastball will play up from that speed. His changeup is devastating — just watch how far out in front hitters get. He’ll change the action on it a bit against lefties, removing a little fade to keep the ball from going out over the plate and on the the barrel of the bat. It’s a great pitch.

Lackey’s approach in 2013 has led him to throw fewer changeups and sinkers than in the past — none in some games. His breaking ball mix is typically 2:1 sliders, but he nearly abandoned the curve late this season. But the pitch is making a comeback now that the bunting has been hung in the ballparks.

pavlidis
Harry Pavlidis is the founder of Pitch Info. Follow him on Twitter: @harrypav.

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