This afternoon the Tigers try to bounce back from their first home loss of the season in the rubber game of the series with the Royals. The Royals send Luke Hochevar to the mound to oppose Rick Porcello
Speaking of Porcello, I happened to overhear one of those baseball science kind of conversations about the effect of temperature on pitching, in which someone was arguing more or less that cold weather is good for curve-ball pitchers, and hot weather is good for fastball pitchers (cold air is more dense than hot and therefore offers more resistance, which ball movement relies on).
So naturally I thought, well Porcello should have a good game tomorrow. Then I saw the weather forecast for Detroit: high of 76. So much for that.
But since game time temperatures are recorded in the box scores, just for fun why not go ahead and see how Porcello did at varying temperatures last season.
Rick Porcello ERA 2010 by game time temperature:
4.14 – sub 70
5.43 – 70 – 79
5.96 – 80 plus
This is somewhat affected no doubt by his progression throughout the season: he struggled for a while, and came on strong at the end of the season, when it was naturally colder. But that begs the question whether or not that improvement was aided by the temperature. In August he had 6 starts; the first 4 at 82, 80, 83, and 87 degrees, the last 2 at 74 and 75. The first 4 he had a 6.95 ERA, the last 2 a 3.21 ERA, and he continued to improve into September.
Is it possible his improvement was aided in some way by the weather? Did he get better, or did it just get colder, or was it both? I wouldn’t try to form an opinion either way based on this little bit of data, but it does add an element that I hadn’t thought of before.
Then again, it’s possible that ALL pitchers do better the colder it is, and that’s all that’s showing up here, not anything specific to Porcello, or to pitchers who rely on a sinker.
And that one is a little deep for the moment, so instead let’s look at today’s no-Magglio lineup (ankle soreness):