ACB raises a good question about Big Z's start last night:
from Gordon Whittenmeyer:
"This is somewhat what you expect from him on a consistent basis," said manager Lou Piniella after his team staved off division elimination for one more day .... "This is what this guy's capable of. We just want to see it more often."
.... No wonder Cubs fans expect too much out of the players. How on earth can you expect Zambrano to pitch as well as he did last night on a consistent basis? Lou has been around this game decades and he actually just said that they expect this from him on a consistent basis. So, Lou expects Zambrano to consistently go out there and throw 9 innings, allow 2 hits, no runs, walk only 1 and strikeout 8?
I just don't think, if you asked a follow-up, that Lou would take it so far. Actually, although Lou's kinda wrong, Lou is kinda right.
What if I told you that last night's start was just in the top 17% of Z's starts since May 2007? What if I told you it was the best, thanks to some luck?
Top 4 by rv100, which is based on batted ball outcomes (hits/xbh/outs) directly, which includes last night (#1) and the no-no (#4)
Top 12 by rv100E, which uses batted ball type (line drive etc) and extrapolates expected hits/outs from there, which includes last night (12) and the no-no (4).
So, is it unreasonable to expect Carlos to pitch that way consistently? Maybe a little bit, but not egregiously. It's a high bar, but he can reach it. It just doesn't mean two hit shutouts every time. Not to me at least.
The no-hitter vs. the two-hitter
Ground ball %: 75% to 52%, in favor of the no-hitter
Fly ball %: 13% to 33%, again the no-hitter wins
Pop up %: 6% to 0, no-hitter had more grounders and more pop-ups
Line drive %: 6% to 14%, more hard hit balls in the two-hitter
In wide zone rate: .546 to .490, more strikes
Whiff rate: .245 to .298, better in the two-hitter, a first
Swing rate: .446 to .480, hmmm less strikes but more swings
Chase rate: .280 to .380, which makes sense given the IWZ/Swing/Whiff
Watch rate: tied at .417
Zambrano pitched very well against the Giants. The aggressive swinging, and a little bit of luck and help from the defense, took care of the rest.
How strong was he? (update)
Looking a the Tim Lincecum end of things, I also found Big Z was extra strong last night. Read it at Beyond the Box Score.