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Thursday, January 26, 2006

 

Backtracking through the Central

Yesterday, I looked at how our new 8th inning setup man, Braden Looper, has fared against the teams in his new divisional home. Today, let's expand our insight by examining how Looper's predecessor, Julian Tavarez held up versus the NL Central during his tour with the Redbirds (2004 & 2005). vs. Astros total: 16 G, 0-2, 2 SV, 15.6 IP, 4.60 ERA, 12 BB, 10 K, 17 HA, 8 ER, 1 HR at HOU: 7 G, 0-2, 2 SV, 4.6 IP, 11.57 ERA, 5 BB, 3 K, 8 HA, 6 ER, 0 HR vs. Brewers total: 17 G, 1-1, 1 SV, 17.3 IP, 2.08 ERA, 1 BB, 13 K, 17 HA, 4 ER, 0 HR at MIL: 8 G, 1-0, 8.6 IP, 1.08 ERA, 0 BB, 3 K, 8 HA, 1 ER vs. Cubs total: 14 G, 1 SV, 9.3 IP, 2.89 ERA, 4 BB, 6 K, 7 HA, 3 ER, 1 HR at CHN: 5 G, 3.3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HA vs. Pirates total: 19 G, 0-2, 1 SV, 14.6 IP, 3.07 ERA, 2 BB, 12 K, 20 HA, 5 ER, 1 HR at PIT: 9 G, 0-2, 1 SV, 6.6 IP, 2.70 ERA, 2 BB, 5 K, 9 HA, 2 ER, 0 HR vs. Reds total: 18 G, 2-2, 1 SV, 14 IP, 3.86 ERA, 4 BB, 14 K, 12 HA, 6 ER, 0 HR at CIN: 11 G, 1-2, 1 SV, 7 IP, 5.14 ERA, 4 BB, 5 K, 7 HA, 4 ER What I found to be the most interesting is that Looper's pitched pretty effectively against Houston, much more so than Tavarez. Looper owns a H/9 rate lower than 1.0 against Houston overall and at Enron Minute Maid Field, where he has never given up a home run. Tavvy on the other hand did not fare as well against the Spacemen. It should be noted that Julian's performance against the Astros was a tale of two season, with a showing in 2004 far better than 2005. Tavarez was fine against the Cubs, but didn't pitch as much against them as he did the other NL Central teams. Being too lazy to go back and look it up, I'm jumping to the conclusion that LaRussa had a reason for using him more as a one out specialist than a full inning reliever versus the Small Bears. Looper, with an ERA slightly high for a reliever, has been moderately successful against the Cubs. The Houston split still grabs my attention more than the others though. Don't forget Houston, outside of the switch hitting Berkman, has a lineup that leans heavily to the right side, Looper's strength even in off-years. How much does the 2005 NLCS loss still burn? I have to think that Looper's line against Houston was part of the justification in signing him with the assumption that his 2005 season totals and his numbers versus lefties can be ironed out at the Dave Duncan health spa for pitchers not living up to their potential. It's not a stretch to assume that the Cards view Houston as their biggest challenge within the division and maybe within the larger National League.
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