The statistical [un]likelihood of Wednesday's pitchers' duel

The statistical [un]likelihood of Wednesday's pitchers' duel

Credit: Getty Images

Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers pitches during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 6, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) // Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on April 11, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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by LANDON HAAF

WFAA Sports

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 11:37 PM

Baseball is a game filled with statistics. Sabermetrics, averages, pitch counts, there are countless statistics in baseball. That’s [part of] the beauty of it.

Therefore, there is a plethora of numeric evidence to show why a pitcher’s duel was the probable outcome in the “pitching matchup of the century.” But there is also a ton of information that would support the claim that how Wednesday night’s game was an unlikely occurrence.

For example, the two ace pitchers came into the game nearly spotless on the young season. Hernandez had a 2.11 ERA (and lowered it to 1.91 in Wednesday’s game) while Darvish boasted a 0.00 ERA through his first two games.

Each is a master of the strikeout, as Yu and Felix started the game Wednesday with a combined 982 strikeouts over the last three seasons.

Three-to-two is no surprise, then.

However, Yu Darvish entered the game with a career 1.29 ERA in the second inning - his best statistical inning by far. He had only surrendered nine total runs in all 63 of his 2nd innings, so Seattle manufacturing two such runs Wednesday was improbable.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said, though, that Wednesday’s outing was one of the only times Darvish found real success against Seattle.

“They play Darvish tough, they’re a good fastball hitting team,” he said.

Darvish came into Wednesday with a 4.78 career ERA against the Mariners.

King Felix gave up 23 runs and 44 hits in just 27.1 innings against Texas last year. Against the rest of Major League Baseball, he’s 101-66 (just over 60 percent win percentage), but he was just 12-20 against the Rangers.

If you’re in the “wins don’t mean much” camp, the Rangers’ .264 batting average against Hernandez is 21 points higher than Felix’s career OBA, and their .320 BABiP is 19 points higher than the mean over his career.

Wednesday was Hernandez’s best start against Texas since 2012.

I guess it’s fitting, then, that this clash of the Titans came down to the bullpens. Both deserved to win, and deductive reasoning leads one to believe that both could’ve easily lost.

As Wash would put it, “that’s why they play nine innings.”

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