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World Series Game 4: Clay Buchholz vs. Lance Lynn

Posted by David Sabino  October 27, 2013 06:58 PM

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Clay Buchholz has been one of baseball's best starters on the road his season but faces one of the game's best while pitching at home, Lance Lynn.

Location, location, location. Just like in real estate, location in baseball is of the utmost importance, especially for a pitcher. Normally when location is discussed in relation to moundsmen we’re talking about command in and around the strike zone, and the ability to keep batters from squaring up with a round bat on a round ball. However with tonight’s combatants, location, as in home and away have made a big difference in their performance. And both are in their comfort zones.

You’d figure that in Game 4 of the World Series with both teams having enough time to set their rotations exactly the wanted them that someone could catch a break. But for the Red Sox the string of spectacular starters rolls on as they are challenged in what could be the most important game of the Series by Lance Lynn. Many AL-only followers may not be aware of Lynn’s exploits and given that there were three other pitchers lined up by Mike Matheny before him in the World Series, Lynn can’t be that good, right? Well, he is, especially at the site of tonight’s game.

Clay Buchholz enters the most important start of his career with health and stamina questions swirling around him and with Felix Doubront (and possibly Ryan Dempster) at the ready at the first signs of trouble. However, when healthy, he’s also been the best road pitcher in baseball this season.

Here’s a quick look at which numbers favor each:

  • Overall the past two seasons only 2013 AL Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer (37) and 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (34) have won more games than Lynn’s 33.
  • Lynn’s career winning percentage, including the postseason, is .650 which ranks him behind only Roy Halladay (.658), Jered Weaver (.653) and Matt Moore (.652) among all pitchers with at least 50 career starts.
  • He’s been tremendous at Busch Stadium, posting an 18-7 mark with a 3.02 ERA at home, with only Scherzer and his teammate Adam Wainwright having accounted for more home victories.
  • Of the 75 pitchers who made more than 25 home starts the past two seasons, Lynn is the only one to allow fewer than 10 home runs (9).
  • Lynn’s home and away splits are stunning, with him allowing an average of two earned runs per nine innings fewer at home (3.07) than on the road (5.06).
  • Buchholz on the other hand throughout the regular and post seasons has better on the road (1.76 ERA, .201 batting average against) than he is at the friendly confines of Boston (2.55, .220).
  • Among those with at least five starts away from home only Milwaukee's Tyler Thornburg (1.06) and Houston's Jared Cosart (1.23) had a lower ERA on the road this year than Buchholz.
  • He has not been charged with a loss on the road in over a year, last being saddled with an “L” by the Yankees in his final start of 2012, a string of six straight wins.
  • The Red Sox are 7-1 in his 2013 road starts, including the playoffs.
  • In five career starts against the NL, Buchholz is a perfect 4–0, allowing fewer hits (25) than innings he pitched 26 ⅔, with an ERA (3.08) more than half a run less than against all AL opponents (3.62)
  • The current Cardinals have faced Buchholz a grand total of zero times in their major league careers.
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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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