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August 4, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Efficient Felix

by Ben Lindbergh

On Saturday afternoon, Felix Hernandez shut out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, allowing two hits and two walks and striking out six. That in itself is a very impressive achievement, given that the Yankees have scored the third-most runs per game in baseball this season, and also given that Yankee Stadium is not a particularly pleasant place to pitch. (The Yankees had averaged over five runs per game there before today.) Even more impressive is the fact that he did it with only 101 pitches. No pitcher has thrown a complete game against the Yankees with fewer pitches since Roy Halladay did it with 96 in 2008. If you want to shut out the Yankees, and you don't want it to take a long time, your best bet is to have Roy Halladay or Felix Hernandez.

Felix has always been fairly efficient, but he's been especially efficient this season, throwing a career-low 14.6 pitches per inning. Among pitchers with at least 80 IP, only Bartolo Colon, Scott Diamond, and R.A. Dickey have thrown fewer. However, in terms of raw pitch count, Hernandez' Saturday shutout was not the most economical game pitched in 2012. Twelve nine-inning games have been completed in fewer than 101 pitches:

Pitcher Date Opp Result Pit
Aaron Cook 6/29 SEA W  5-0 81
Joe Blanton 5/3 ATL W  4-0 88
Matt Cain 4/18 PHI W  1-0 91
Edwin Jackson 4/14 CIN W  4-1 92
Kyle Kendrick 5/26 STL W  4-0 94
Johan Santana 5/26 SDP W  9-0 96
Philip Humber 4/21 SEA W  4-0 96
Henderson Alvarez 5/4 LAA W  4-0 97
James Shields 7/31 OAK W  8-0 98
Scott Diamond 7/27 CLE W 11-0 98
Zack Greinke 6/22 CHW W  1-0 100
R.A. Dickey 6/2 STL W  5-0 100
Felix Hernandez 8/4 NYY W  1-0 101

Take a look at that third column, though: most of those complete games with fewer pitches were pitched against A) NL teams or B) AL teams that don't take as many pitches or send as many batters to the plate as the Yankees typically do. We could probably league-, park-, and lineup-adjust this list to find out which pitch count was most impressive, but that would mean doing a lot of work to establish something we already know: pitching nine innings with 101 pitches against the Yankees in New York is pretty impressive. You can doubt me, but you can't doubt Derek Jeter, who showed his appreciation with a little love tap that would have made Rex Hudler furious after making the second-to-last out of the game.

This has been your daily reminder the Felix Hernandez is good at baseball.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

Related Content:  Yankees,  Felix Hernandez,  Pitches,  Efficiency

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