The present author has made no attempt to hide his affection for Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. Low walk starters who get a lot of ground balls are a personal favorite and you’re just going to have to accept me for who I am. You’ve seen a lot on these two starters and their ground balling ways over the course of this season, so here’s a little reward for all of you who have stuck around.
Presumably you’re aware that Porcello and Fister get a lot of ground balls, and there’s a chance that you know they’re currently third and fourth among qualifying starters in ground ball percentage at 55.2% and 54.5%, trailing only Masterson and Burnett. And Burnett gets to face the pitcher, so he shouldn’t really count.
Below, I’ve traced their pace from the start of the season through today. Both Fister and Porcello have one more start each before the season wraps up and the team ground ball championship is still up (or down?!) for grabs. Let’s take a look:
Fister led the way for the first half of the season but Porcello made his move around the midway point and it’s been neck and neck since right around start #22 for each. Porcello has a narrow lead entering the final round, but Fister could induce a few double plays and put himself in position to take home the title.
Reports are scare as to what the particular award will be for the winner, but this seems like something for which New English D should take the time to name and have a ceremony. I can’t imagine either starter would show up, especially considering they’ll be busy trying to win the World Series, but as we enter each pitcher’s final turn through the rotation, the battle for which hurler can induce more ground balls is still very much an open question.
If you’re interested pitching, I wrote a post over in the Community Research section of Fangraphs regarding John Lackey’s season and his increase in K% and GB% and decrease in BB% based largely on a modification of a subset of his fastballs. Lackey joins Porcello as the only pitcher in MLB this season with more than 7 K/9, fewer than 2 BB/9, and a GB% above 50%. Felix and Fister are close, but these guys are trying to join a group that includes just Halladay, Carpenter, and Hamels since GB% became available in 2002.
If you’re curious about Porcello, who starts tonight, he’s currently at 7.25 K/9, 1.42 BB/9, and 57.3 GB%. All of those numbers are career best and are helping Porcello post a career best 3.51 FIP and 3.05 xFIP. Earlier in the year, I broke down how Porcello is making the leap from solid #5, to legitimate big league star.