A look At Lowe – Unlucky or Awful?

Every time Derek Lowe is scheduled to pitch, while the game is in progress and after on the blogs and twitter there are some extremely unkind, inaccurate and unjustified statements made about him. In an effort – inevitably unsuccessful – the inform and ad perspective, here are just a few words about Derek Lowe’s “bad” year.

We all know Derek Lowe hasn’t been as sharp this year don’t we? I mean look at his won/loss record he’s awful, right? Then he had that unfortunate traffic stop where the did all those awful things. The charges for those awful things were dismissed and in this country I thought innocence was true until proven false. Maybe not.In any event, Lowe is not an easy guy to like.

I get it. He’s losing games for the Braves and the heaven knows the Braves deserve better. I wrote back before the injuries to Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens that he should move to the bullpen until he fixed whatever was wrong. If those two were healthy I’m sure he’d be there now.But, they aren’t healthy, the Braves have a shortage of starters and he is going to start a critical game tonight. Besides, the numbers don’t say what you think they do. So let’s take personalities out of this and look at how he has actually pitched.

I guess if asked most of you would say something like awful, terrible or horrible. Many fans berate his performance while ignoring similar performances by others. Keep in mind (please) that I come to profile Lowe’s starts, not to praise him. I’m just going to show the numbers for each starter and let you take a look.

For Lowe I’ve shown the 13 games before and his 13 starts since the AS Game.

For Beachy, Hudson and Minor I’m using starts since the All Star game.

For JJ and Hanson I used their last 13 starts before the All star break.

Pre AS
Post AS
Post AS
Post AS
Post AS
Pre AS
Pre AS
GS 13 13 13 14 9 13 13
Rec 3-4 4-9 4-2 8-4 6-3 10-3 11-2
ERA 4.60 5.91 4.12 2.83 3.83 2.03 .208
BAbip 2.90 .368 .328 .289 .350 .259 .218
HR 5 6 7 6 7 4 7
G (W-L) G (W-L) G (W-L) G (W-L) G (W-L) G (W-L) G (W-L)
RS<=2 3 (0-3) 6 (0-6) 2 (0-2) 5 (2-3) 3 (1-2) 4 (2-2) 2 (1-1)
RS=3 2 (1-1) 3 (1-2) 2 (0-2) 2 (0-2) N/A 2 (1-1) 2 (1-1)
RS=4 1 (1-0) 2 (1-1) 2 (1-1) 1 (1-0) N/A 2 (2-0) 5 (5-0)
RS>=5 7 (7-0) 2 (2-0) 7 (4-3) 6 (6-0) 6 (5-1) 5 (5-0) 4 (4-0)
IP < 5 2 2 2 0 1 0 1
IP 5+ 4 4 4 1 6 2 1
IP 6+ 7 6 6 4 2 6 5
IP 7+ 1 1 1 9 0 5 6

RS – Braves Runs

Here’s some of what I see, in the table.

1.) Run Production is down the second half

No matter who starts:

  • When we score 4 or more runs we win about 88% of the time.
  • When we score exactly 3 runs we lose about 70% of the time
  • When we score less than 2 runs we lose about 75% of the time

2.) Beachy and Lowe go 5 innings or less about the same number of times.

3.) Since the ASG Lowe and Hudson received get less run support than other starters

4.) Lowe’s BAbip rose 78 points the second half . As a reference Hudson’s is up 32 points and Beachy up 33.

BAbip indicates that hitters are putting the ball in play more often against everyone. This makes sense as pitchers get tired through the year.

Lowe is suffering more than Hudson even though both are ground ball pitchers. Lowe is missing with more hittable pitches than Hudson (the sinker is up and the slider isn’t sharp) so more balls in play turn into hits instead of double plays.

5.) Even though Beachy’s record is 4-2 that doesn’t indicate Beachy’s starts are  more successful. The Braves are 5-8 when Beachy starts and 4-9 when Lowe starts.

Not shown are the innings when the pitchers allow the most runs. Lowe allows runs in about even numbers in innings 1-6 averages about 1/2 run an inning over his 33 starts. He hasn’t shown any particular inning or innings that are harder for him than the rest.

Like most strike out fly ball pitchers Beachy is vulnerable in the 1st inning before he settles in. He also tends to give up a lot of runs in the 4th inning about the time he’s going through the lineup the second time.

It’s pretty clear the Braves scored a lot more runs for Beachy than they have for Lowe in the second half. Nine times the Braves have scored three or less runs for Lowe , four times for Beachy. Seven times the Braves scored five or more for Beachy but only twice for Lowe. Given equivalent run support Lowe’s record would likely improve.

I doubt this will change anyone’s mind about Derek Lowe. I too would like to have Jurrjens and Hanson back so this wouldn’t be an issue; but we don’t. For myself, I try to understand that Lowe would not pitch as he has if he knew how to go back to his form of last September. He’s not trying to give up hits and runs and feels as badly or worse about it than you and I. After all he’s the aging vet who may not get this close to the prize again; and they all want that prize.

As always comments are invited.

Tags: Brandon Beachy Derek Lowe Jair Jurrjens Tim Hudson Tommy Hanson

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