After a recent podcast in which I wondered how Yovani Gallardo was managing to maintain his strikeout rate and hold down his walk rate despite being wild, I received the following tweet.
@almelccbs Listening to yest podcast, check out Lucroy's framing stats when researching Gallardo— Stian Volden (@stianv83) April 18, 2014
So, I went to StatCorner.com and did just that. I found that Jonathan Lucroy has in fact been the second-best catcher (min. 800 pitches caught) so far this year in getting called strikes on pitches that were actually out of the strike zone (oStr%). I also learned that he is sandwiched between Jason Castro and Travis d'Arnaud in those rankings. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Brewers, Astros and Mets rank second, fifth and sixth among pitching staffs, respectively, in called strike rate.
Perhaps that means Gallardo could continue to perform well without great control or swing-and-miss stuff. If his teammate, Wily Peralta, can start getting whiffs more often like he did in the second half last season, he could have a dramatic breakout.
Zack Wheeler, in particular, seems to have already benefitted from pitching to d'Arnaud. His called strikes rate went up from 16 to 17 percent after d'Arnaud was recalled last August and caught each of Wheeler's last six starts. This season, Wheeler has had 19 percent of his pitches called for strikes, as d'Arnaud has ascended to the upper echelons of the oStr% leaders.
Castro wasn't especially good at framing pitches last season, so it remains to be seen if he can help Jarred Cosart and Brad Peacock, both of whom have a history of wildness. Already, Cosart has frozen batters on 22 percent of his pitches this season, though Carlos Corporan has caught two of his four starts. Based on the early returns, Cosart bears watching despite some persistent control issues.