All 3.69s Are Not Created Equal

As Grant pointed out, tonight's Game 4 starters have exactly the same ERAs: 3.69.

Does this mean that Randy Wolf and Joe Saunders are exactly the same pitchers?

Hardly.

While both pitchers walked 2.8 batters per nine innings, Wolf struck out 5.7 per nine innings.

That is a low figure, relative to most National League pitchers.

But Saunders struck out 4.6 batters per nine innings, which is really low; the lowest, in fact, among the 50 National League pitchers with at least 162 innings this season (Wolf ranked 40th).

You might guess that Saunders doesn't throw hard, and you would be correct. But he does throw slightly harder than Wolf, whose fastball averages just 88.4 miles an hour. Nevertheless, Wolf's fastball is more effective than Saunders. Here's a great look at their respective pitches, including frequency and effectiveness:

It's probably not appropriate for us to tell Saunders to stop throwing so many damned fastballs, because it's hard to argue with a 3.69 ERA. But he throws a lot of fastballs and they're really not working all that well for him. While you watch Game 4 tonight, see if you can figure out why Saunders' fastballs aren't as effective as Wolf's, even though they're faster.

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