Starting Shoppach Against Tillman | The Process Report

Starting Shoppach Against Tillman

Well that didn’t take long. With the announced start of Kelly Shoppach tonight against the right-handed Chris Tillman, we have our first “what is Joe Maddon thinking” moment with the lineup. As soon as I heard the news a few thoughts came to mind.

Resting John Jaso: Jaso missed a decent amount of time at the end of March after taking a foul ball to the groin. He caught in a few innings in some minor league games, but was slow to recover. Jaso played all nine innings last night. Though he did not look out of sorts, only he knows how he felt waking up this morning. Perhaps the move was predermined considering Jaso’s condition.

Danks Theory: If it’s not rest, then it has to be something else. Looking at the opposing pitcher, Chris Tillman, there is a little reverse-platoon action going on. Tillman’s secondary pitches – the curveball and changeup – could be used to neutralize left-handed batters. Against lefties last year, he threw non-fastballs more than 40% of the time. Against righties, he was more dependent on the heater as he went to his other pitches just over 30%.

In two seasons, he has split his major league innings nearly in half (59.2 vs. LHB, 59.0 vs. RHB). His ERA & FIP is higher against righties and that is fueled by the long ball. Of his 24 career home runs allowed, 15 have come off the bat of right-handed batters. Kelly Shoppach‘s main attribute is power, so perhaps Maddon is looking at the reverse splits in search of some added pop.

Batted-Ball Data: Earlier today, R.J. highlighed that Sunday’s starter, Zach Britton, is an extreme groundball pitcher. Of the two catchers on the roster, Jaso favors groundball pitchers (in a small sample size) while Shoppach is rather neutral, matching Tillman.

James Shields: I’m still skeptical of the “personal catcher” theory, but some are convinced of it. Looking at Shields in 2010 would add some fuel to that fire. Although he had a rough time all around, his struggles seem magnified with John Jaso behind the plate. The majority of his 34 home runs allowed were with Jaso (21), but Jaso also caught more innings for him than anyone else. On the other hand, his K/BB rate with Jaso was also lower than it was with other backstops.

Perfect storm: Perhaps there is no one reason for Shoppach getting the start. In fact, because of the reverse platoon splits and the batted ball data, maybe Maddon sees an opportunity to get Jaso a bit of rest and still get production from the catcher position. If there is something to the Shields/Jaso battery, here’s a chance to see what Shields and Shoppach can do. The one thing we can almost guarantee is Maddon is not just making this decision on a gut feeling. 



3 Comments

  1. […] Rays’ offense was held in check for a second straight night. The decision to start Kelly Shoppach versus a right-handed starter seemed like a worthwhile adventure as the […]

  2. […] Rays’ offense was held in check for a second straight night. The decision to start Kelly Shoppach versus a right-handed starter seemed like a worthwhile adventure as the […]

  3. […] Rays’ offense was held in check for a second straight night. The decision to start Kelly Shoppach versus a right-handed starter seemed like a worthwhile adventure as the […]

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