The Process Versus Andy Pettitte | The Process Report

The Process Versus Andy Pettitte

Often Joe Maddon is looked upon as an atypical manager when it comes to lineup construction. However, on Thursday night against Andy PettitteMaddon’s lineup was as customary as can be. The Rays started all eight available right-handed batters against the veteran southpaw, including both catchers—with Jose Molina serving as the team’s designated hitter.

Since returning to the league last season, Pettitte has held same-siders to a .179 average with a .462 OPS. Righties have a .754 OPS with a healthy .275 average. His best pitch is a mid-80s cut-fastball that he throws nearly 30 percent of the time, though he uses the pitch almost twice as much against lefties than he does righties.

Maddon was not re-inventing the wheel with last night’s lineup. Rather, going with the split, and attempting to take away the opposition’s best weapon. The Rays were successful against Pettitte in April with a similar lineup (one left-handed hitter), scoring three runs on seven hits in six innings. He threw 89 pitches to right-handed batters in that game. Only 24 of them cutters. Conversely, the lone lefty, Kelly Johnson, saw 10 cutters in a 16-pitch sample.

The Rays scored five runs off Pettitte in 5 2/3 innings on Thursday. They registered nine hits against the 41-year-old including three doubles and a home run. Unsurprisingly, all nine hits came off the bat of right-handed batters. Pettitte threw 96 pitches total with just 22 of them cutters and just 17 to righties. Desmond Jennings had the most success of the bunch, going 3-3 with a pair of doubles. Each of Jennings’ hits came on elevated fastballs on the inner-third of the plate. In fact, seven of the Rays’ nine hits against Pettitte came off fastballs on the inside half.

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Tampa Bay attacked the heater early. Five hits came against fastballs in plate appearances lasting three pitches or fewer.

The Yankees will send right-hander David Phelps to the mound tomorrow. Phelps features a pair of breaking balls that have been highly effective against left-handed batters. It will be interesting to see if Maddon goes traditional once again or against the grain, sneaking in an extra-right handed bat or two in Danks’ Theory fashion.

Data and visuals courtesy of ESPN Stat’s & Info.



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