Justin Verlander is scheduled to pitch against the Pirates in Detroit next Friday. With such a prolific strikeout pitcher and such a strikeout-happy lineup, I was curious as to how many Bucs Verlander will ring up.
I went to BBRef and looked up Verlander's K/9: it's currently at 8.4 on the season. His career average is 8.3, but it's been considerably higher than that since 2009; this leads me to believe that Verlander turned some kind of corner that year (his numbers improved dramatically across the board, most noticeably in K/BB rate, and have remained lofty since then). I wanted to see what kind of K% Verlander rang hitters up at, so I took his number of batters faced and subtracted both BB and HBP to get his total batters faced (TBF), then divided his strikeouts by that number. Here's what I got (listed K/9 as well):
2009: 982 BF - 63 BB - 6 HBP = 913 TBF / 269 K = 29%, 10.1 K/9
2010: 925 BF - 71 BB - 6 HBP = 848 TBF / 219 K = 26%, 8.8 K/9
2011: 969 BF - 57 BB - 3 HBP = 909 TBF / 250 K = 28%, 9.0 K/9
2012: 202 BF - 11 BB - 2 HBP = 189 TBF / 48 K = 25%, 8.4 K/9
Career: 5,654 BF - 421 BB - 57 HBP = 5,233 TBF / 1,263 K = 24%, 8.3 K/9
Now, those Pirates. Their lineup differs significantly from last year, so I decided to only use 2012 data and live with the sample size. All Pirate batters have combined for 253 K's in 1029 AB over 32 games this season. This comes out to about 25% and 7.9 K/9.
This data gives us a few results. Verlander averages 7.3 IP/GS this year, which is approximately 81% of a regular game. Applied directly to his K/9, that would predict him to strikeout 6.8 batters over this span. Verlander also carries a .935 WHIP. Multiplying that out over his average start, he'll allow 7 hits/BB over 7 1/3 IP for 29 TBF. If he strikes out 25% of those, that would be 7.3 K's. Thus, if his 2012 averages hold true, he's most like to strike out 7 Pirate batters.
Interestingly, his ERA is 2.63. If he maintains that over his 7.3 inning start, the Bucs will score 2.13 runs off of him. I, for one, would be pretty psyched about Verlander's stat line reading 7.1 IP, 7K, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 ER. Even with Detroit's offense, I think this would give Pittsburgh a decent shot to win this game.
I know that pitchers don't produce exactly their averages every game, but a series of zeniths and nadirs that lead to a mean. I know that this will be an AL game, thus including the DH (and taking away easy pitcher-pitcher matchups). I don't know who will be playing; most likely it's Barajas-McGehee-Walker-Alvarez-Barmes-Presley-McCutchen-Tabata-Jones, but Hurdle may try to get McLouth in for another lefty bat or have Fox in the majors or some other curveball that I have no way to account for. This almost feels like the perfect storm to end up with a crazy 20-strikout game. I'll set the over/under at 12... mainly because that's the number where I hesitate to quickly side one way or another.
My apologies if this posts sounds negative; it was merely an interesting (to me) question that turned into a little bit of research. I'm a little talked out on the Pirates' current woes and wanted to have a little fun.