The Closer: Strasburg takes on Mets

Stephen Strasburg makes his sixth career start Saturday against the Mets. He’s equipped with a high 90’s fastball and a changeup that often differs by 10 MPH or more. The Mets will need to lay off these pitches when they are outside the strike zone. Mets hitters rank second in the majors in chasing fastballs and fourth in chasing changeups, but are middle-of-the-pack in chasing curveballs.

2010 Season

Nearly a third (31.25 pct) of Strasburg's strikeouts have come with his changeup. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 20 changeups in two-strike situations, he is tied with the Cubs' Ryan Dempster for first in put-away rate at 50 pct.

Among hitters in the same position (two strikes and have faced at least 20 changeups), David Wright is the 14th worst in the majors (among 231 qualifying batters), so if Strasburg gets Wright to two strikes Saturday, look for the changeup.

How Padres starter Mat Latos shut down the Astros:
- The Astros were 0-8 with five strikeouts against Latos' offspeed pitches, missing on seven of their 12 swings against those pitches.
- Latos induced a season-high 14 ground balls, with his 70.0 GB pct also a season high.
- Despite going to three-ball counts on six hitters, Latos managed not to walk a hitter. Four of Latos's seven strikeouts came on full counts.
- Astros left-handed hitters (Berkman, Bourn, Castro) were 0-9 with four strikeouts against Latos. Collectively, they missed on seven of 16 swings against Latos.

How Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia held down the Brewers:
- Fooled the Brewers: Despite getting just six swings-and-misses all game, Garcia managed seven strikeouts. Five of those strikeouts were looking.
- Brewers hitters did not manage a single hit against his offspeed pitches, going 0-11 with five strikeouts, five groundouts, and a pop up.
- After the count reached two strikes, Brewers hitters were 0-11.

How Twins starter Scott Baker outpitched David Price to beat the Rays:
- Command: Baker fell behind 2-0 to just one hitter, and reached a three-ball count only once.
- Baker's slider was devastating with two strikes. Despite throwing just eight two-strike sliders, he registered five strikeouts with the pitch. All five strikeouts were swinging, with four of those on pitches out of the strike zone. Overall, the Rays missed on seven of their 12 swings against Baker's slider.
- Baker kept the ball down, with six of his strikeouts coming on pitches low in the strike zone or below it. Five of those were with his slider.