Ah, never mind. There you are.
All kidding aside, apart from a couple of recent hiccups Scott Schoeneweis has been very quietly having an excellent year. Even after giving up four runs in two of his appearances last week, Schoeneweis sports a 2.62 ERA, nearly half the 5.03 he rocked in 2007 – which included a 6.91 ERA at Shea Stadium (no wonder he got booed). He’s still got a pronounced platoon split – .904 OPS vs. righties, and .379 OPS vs. lefties (holy crap!) – but those are both improvements on last year’s numbers.
Schoeneweis pitched all of last season with a torn tendon behind his knee, which made him feel like he was pitching “on ice skates.” Is it possible that after building up the muscles surrounding his injured hamstring, Schoeneweis is actually this good? Or is he just lucky? Anyone can look like a world beater for 24 innings. Well, it’s a little from column A, and a little from column B.
The idea that his severed tendon affected the power he could generate doesn’t really hold water. If you look at the Pitch-F/X data, Schoeneweis’s fastball is nearly the same in 2008 as it was in 2007, at least in terms of velocity. In fact, his heater had slightly more movement and velocity last year.
The difference in his pitches is his slider, which has got both more “drop,” compared to his fastball, and more horizontal movement this year than last. In 2008 there’s also an extra 0.5 mile-per-hour difference between the fastball and the slider. I don’t know why not having that tendon would make such a difference in a slider, but apparently it does.
Scott’s peripherals, on the other hand, are troubling. Take a look at how he compares to other pitchers in the NL.
That’s not encouraging: Schoeneweis isn’t striking out anybody. A pitcher with a 2.62 ERA who walks as many as he strikes out must be getting lucky as hell on his BABIP, right? Well, yes and no. Against right-handers Schoeneweis has allowed a .289 BABIP, not far off his career mark against RHB of .304. That isn’t even a difference of one lucky out. Against lefties he’s only allowed a .098 average overall, but he’s been kind of lucky on balls in play: only .094 of them have gone for hits. But that’s only about five hits better than his career BABIP against lefties of .264.
So yeah, he’s gotten a little bit lucky in 2008. His 15% line drive rate means that we would expect him to have allowed a few more hits on balls in play, but his home runs per fly ball is about normal and Schoeneweis is getting better than 56% ground balls, both good things. So while he isn’t 2.62-ERA-good, he actually hasn’t pitched half-bad.
No, the biggest area where Schoeneweis has gotten “lucky,” is in the percentage of right-handers he’s had to face. This year Schoeneweis has pitched to 48 right-handers and 49 lefties, almost exactly 50-50. Compare that to last year, when he faced 157 righties and only 108 lefties; that’s more like 60-40.
A guy who dominates half of the time and stinks the other half would end up being . . . well, mediocre I guess. A pitcher who stinks 60% of the time is that much closer to stinking all of the time. That’s what we call a sub-optimal utilization pattern.
Is it possible that Willie Randolph has finally learned how to play match-ups? Maybe he’s even read about how to properly use a LOOGY on some popular, Mets-oriented blogs?
Eh, probably not.
Special thanks to the Hardball Times, David Pinto, and especially Josh Kalk. They know what they done.