Apr 17, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Giants Continue Homestand Against Diamondbacks: Game Preview


Fresh off a sweep of the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants will continue their homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who snapped the Colorado Rockies’ eight-game winning streak on Sunday.

Ryan Vogelsong will take the ball against Wade Miley in Game 1.

Scouting Wade Miley (2-0, 2.79)

The Giants won’t have it easy against Wade Miley on Monday night. Lsst year, the southpaw finished second in Rookie of the Year voting with a 3.33 ERA, and he’s already off to a solid start in 2013.

Miley’s arsenal is your basic four-pitch repertoire, but he mainly relies on pitches classified in the fastball group, which in his case, is the sinker.

In this young season, Fangraphs has him throwing a fastball 71.1 percent of the time, which is an obscure breakdown of his arsenal. Brooks Baseball gets more specific, claiming he throws a sinker 46 percent of the time and a four-seam fastball 27 percent of the time.

Apr 5, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley (36) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Velocity-wise, neither pitch is overpowering. His four-seamer averages out at 91 MPH, as does his sinker. Discounting the sinking movement, there’s only a .42 mile per hour difference between his sinker and four-seamer.

So, the sinker is Miley’s primary weapon, and it’s been fairly successful. Opposing hitters have mustered a lowly .241 average off the pitch in 29 at-bats. In 10 fewer at-bats, his four-seamer has drawn a .158 batting average.

It’s really no big surprise that Miley is 20th in baseball with a 51.9 percent ground-ball rate (Fangraphs). That’s what sinkers do–induce grounders. On Monday, though, Miley could get away with a few elevated sinkers, as AT&T Park favors fly ball pitchers–just ask Matt Cain or Barry Zito.

Miley does have a change-up, but opponents are hitting a robust .556 off it this year, according to Brooks Baseball. As it continues to get hit, Miley is beginning to take it out of his arsenal. In his last start against the New York Yankees, he threw it just 10 times. Until he sorts the kinks out, it’s not something that hitters will be looking for. When it is effectively located in the bottom part of the strike zone, though, it’s a swing-and-miss pitch.

Giants’ Ideal Plan Of Attack Against Miley

The Giants will have to be aggressive against Miley, but at the same time, they have to look for his sinker. Not only does he throw it 82 percent of the time on the first pitch to right-handers, but he throws it 56 percent of the time overall to righties. The only situation where he tends to not throw it is when he’s ahead in the count.

Since it’s not a wild sinker–only a 37.2 percent ball percentage–the Giants will have to recognize it out of his hands early, and track it all the way through the zone.

Apr 19, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Angel Pagan (16) is congratulated by shortstop Brandon Crawford (35, right) for scoring against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT

Left-handed hitters won’t see the sinker as frequently on Monday. But the Giants only have two probably lefties in their lineup–Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford.

In their case, they will see a combination of a four-seamer, sinker and slider. Miley’s tends to break out the slider when he’s ahead of a lefty–72 percent of the time when he’s ahead and 50 percent of the time with two strikes.

Crawford and Belt don’t have much guessing work to do, per se. It’s their approaches that will make them successful against Miley.

Ideally, they should look fastball on the first pitch, as Miley throws his four-seamer 50 percent of the time to start an at-bat. But both are averse to swinging at that first pitch.

In short, looking for good pitches to hit early in the count will bode the Giants well against Miley.

Notes:

  • In four career starts against the Giants, Miley is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA. He will be making his second career start at AT&T Park on Monday.
  • Buster Posey is hitting .571 (4-for-7) in his career against Miley along with one home run.
  • Andres Torres, who should be making the start in left field, is a lifetime 4-for-6 against Miley.
  • Ryan Vogelsong is 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 13 games (seven starts) in his career. He went 0-1 with an 8.12 ERA in three starts last year.

 

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