Tomorrow night's pitcher, Jamie Moyer, carried a 3.95 ERA into the break. His success is attributable to a 46.9 percent groundball rate, a significant jump over his usual mark.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Don’t tell that to Jamie Moyer, the new king of the ground ball. The 45-year-old lefty came to Philadelphia with the understanding that flyballs were part of the package, and that fans should brace for a healthy dose of the long ball in the close confines of Citizens Bank Park. That hasn’t been the case, especially in 2008. Moyer’s GB percentage leads the starting rotation. In 10 home starts, he’s surrendered just seven home runs. That’s outstanding.
Aside from Brett Myers, who’s actually been far worse away from the Bank, the trend is sweeping the pitching staff. Last season, the Phillies allowed 125 homers at home, most in the league. This year, they’ve allowed 51 in 50 home games, which is only fifth most. The bullpen has been particularly good; guys like J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge and Rudy Seanez – who hasn't given up a home run yet – have even better ground ball rates than Moyer. But even Adam Eaton has been solid in the GB/FB department and hasn't been burned by many home runs.
Moyer is extraordinary. Tuesday on FanGraphs, Dave Cameron pulled some numbers to show that 48 percent of his pitches arrive under 80 mph. “Moyer’s running a 4.35 FIP and 3.95 ERA, his lowest marks since his 2003 season in Seattle,” Cameron writes. “His 5.53 K/9 and 46.8 GB percentage are more in line with a guy who throws a sinker and pounds the bottom of the strike zone with 90 MPH two-seam fastballs.”
Moyer’s secret is simple: He lives down-and-away roughly 35 percent of the time, according to ESPN’s Inside Edge. He’ll mix in his changeup, slider and curveball at any point in the count.
Moyer, quite frankly, makes hitters look stupid. Just ask tomorrow night’s opponent, a mere 0-9 in nine tries against him.