Based on the way in which Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Felix Doubront pitched in Sunday’s contest against the New York Yankees, one cannot help but conclude that he felt pitching in the major leagues was getting too easy for him. Therefore, he decided to make things as difficult as possible on himself while still preventing the Yankees from scoring many runs.
The number one way in which Doubront sought to sabotage his own pitching efforts was through the five walks he distributed to the Yankees hitters. Since he faced 27 batters in 6.3 innings of work, that means that Doubront gave a free pass to 18.5 percent of the batters he faced, almost twice as high as his season average of walking 9.3 percent of the batters he has faced.
Giving so many opposing batters a free pass on base is usually a recipe for disaster for a pitcher, but Doubront was able to continually work himself out of the jams in which he placed himself. He did so in two ways: striking out opposing batters and limiting the success the Yankees batters experienced once they put balls in play.
In counteracting, for the most part, his five walks during his start, Doubront was also able to strike out eight Yankees hitters, or 29.6 percent of the hitters he faced, during his time on the mound. Furthermore, even when the Yankees hitters did manage to make contact, they only were able to post a .231 batting average on balls in play along with a hitting line of .182 BA/.333 OBP/.318 SLG and a .301 wOBA. In holding the Yankees hitters to such a limited amount of success, Doubront was able to keep the Yankees from scoring more than one earned run against him.
Even though Doubront only conceded one earned run in 6.3 innings, his plan to make things needlessly difficult on himself did have consequences to his fielding-independent ERA statistics. Both his 4.96 fielding-independent ERA and his 4.31 expected fielding-independent ERA are representative of the fact Doubront simply did not pitch well despite what his 1.42 ERA might suggest.
While Doubront escaped disaster in Sunday’s start, the next time he sabotages himself, he might very well be a lot less fortunate in preventing runs.