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From Zito to Vogelsong: Assessing the Giant rotation’s volatility

If our words had any power, we would think that we reverse jinxed Barry Zito before Game 5. We cavalierly tweeted “Over/under on Zito’s walks tonight: 3.” Silly us. The wacky Giant left-hander went on to baffle Cardinal batters, striking out six and walking only one, en route to blanking the Cardinals 5-0 Friday night at Busch Stadium.

Given Zito’s recent history — walk rates of 3.79, 4.02 and 3.42 over the past three seasons — one might be forgiven for thinking that a mediocre start was in the offing for Zito. But the pitcher is certainly capable of throwing a game like he did Friday, when he registered a 63 fielding-independent game score. True, he had the lowest average FIGS on the season of any of the Giant rotation. But he is also fairly volatile, meaning that, though he can hurl some clunkers — his low on the season was a 20 FIGS — he can also toss a gem. Giant starters by their volatility (measured as standard deviation of their 2012 FIGS):

Low game High game Stdev Avg
Cain 17 88 15.6 52
Bumgarner 21 71 14.8 51
Lincecum 17 73 13.1 46
Zito 20 63 11.9 45
Vogelsong 24 68 9.5 50

Conversely, the Giants’ Game 6 starter, Ryan Vogelsong, is the team’s most consistent starting pitcher, and a pretty good one at that (the rotation’s third-best average FIGS). The Cardinals can expect a solid game Sunday.

So what about the Cardinal starters, who boasted the NL’s second-best FIP in 2012?

Low game High game Stdev Avg
Wainwright 25 75 12.8 53
Lynn 14 77 12.5 52
Lohse 23 65 10.5 51
Carpenter 46 54 3.4 49

Their best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, is also their most volatile, as evidenced by even his two most recent playoff performances (24 FIGS and 53 FIGS, respectively).  And Vogelsong’s opposite number on the mound is Chris Carpenter, who, like Vogelsong, is his team’s most reliable, though we should point out that Carp’s numbers are based on only three starts.

So if all goes according to form, Game 6 will be a pairing of evenly matched, reliable pitchers. As surprising as Zito’s Game 5 was, don’t expect Game 6 to offer anything quite so out of the ordinary.

One Response to “From Zito to Vogelsong: Assessing the Giant rotation’s volatility”

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