Pitchers nixing trends with great reverse splits – MLB.com

What changed? Why trust your lefty masher against some righties but not others?

The answer has less to do with Hernandez than with the starters. For whatever reason, McCullers and Morton both elicit reverse platoon splits, which means they have better success against left-handed hitters even though they, themselves, are right-handed. Pitchers with reverse splits are exceedingly scarce in today’s ultra-specialized game, and it’s particularly rare to have two statistical oddballs in the same playoff rotation.

That said, McCullers and Morton aren’t the only ones. Recently, we took a look at the hitters with reverse splits at the plate. Now it’s time to examine the starting pitchers that do, an eclectic group headlined by two Astros.

McCullers, RHP, Astros
2017

McCullers’ reverse platoon splits are somewhat unexpected, given that his changeup, which would run away from lefties, is his third — and probably least effective — pitch. It’s usually pitchers with poor changeups who struggle against opposite-handed hitters, but not McCullers. McCullers relies heavily on his knuckle curve, which, in theory, should break down and into the swing of a left-handed hitter. Despite all that, righties hit him much better (.264/.346/.419) than lefties did (.231/.294/.312). Three of four extra-base hits McCullers allowed in the postseason came against righties.

Career
McCullers allows 109 extra points of OPS to righties (.253/.341/.403 career) than lefties (.232/.299/.336) over the course of his three-year career. The 107-point platoon difference in OPS he allowed last season was McCullers’ starkest, most extreme split yet. Interestingly enough, McCullers’ father, Lance McCullers Sr., also pitched to reverse splits over his seven-year career.

What does Statcast™ say?
In this section, we’ll turn to Statcast™ to tell us what these pitchers’ peripherals say about their reverse platoon splits. We’ll look at the Statcast™ metrics expected batting average (xBA), expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) and

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