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Indians' called strikes advantage significant through 2 games

Jose Bautista is not happy with something through two games. Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

The Cleveland Indians have a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays on the strength of their pitching.

But their catching may have a little something to do with it too.

Through two games, the Indians have had a major advantage over the Blue Jays when it comes to called strikes. By the calculations in a system devised by TruMedia (which factors in how often a pitch is called a strike based on pitch location and count), Indians pitchers have gotten 7.4 more called strikes than the average pitcher would have gotten on the same set of pitches.

By the same computations, Blue Jays pitchers have gotten 1.8 fewer strikes than the average pitcher.

In Game 1, Indians pitchers got 4.2 extra strikes to 0.9 for the Blue Jays. The Indians were the beneficiaries of four strike calls on pitches with a less-than-25 percent strike probability. The Blue Jays got one.

The gap in strikes above average in Game 2 was larger: 3.2 extra strikes for the Indians, 2.7 strikes below average for the Blue Jays, though neither team was the beneficiary of a strike call on a pitch with less than a 25 percent chance of being a strike.

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista made a cryptic reference to “circumstances” being against his team. In Game 1, Bautista struck out on a curveball that is historically called a strike 1.4 percent of the time.

Though some may think this is the product of umpire decisions, pitch framing may play a role.

Indians catcher Roberto Perez is one of the game’s best pitch framers. He ranked fifth out of 76 catchers in the majors in called strike rate above average (a stat that levels the playing field for those who play fewer games). Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin was good, but not that good. He ranks 21st.