Game 1 Balls and Strikes Preview: Tim Welke

Crew chief Tim Welke has drawn the Game One assignment of calling balls and strikes in the Cliff Lee vs. David Price battle. What does this mean? According to Jeff Zimmerman, Tim Welke measures slightly above average (2%) in terms of strikeouts and walks in favor of the pitcher. More notably, when looking at Pitch F/X called balls and strikes, Welke is 24% more generous to pitchers than the average umpire. Welke from 2007-09 was the 6th most generous umpire towards pitchers by this measure.

Welke called one game each for Cliff Lee and David Price this season. Below, find images from the April 14th matchup between David Price and the Orioles (note: this is for all TB pitchers):

vs. RHH

Zoneplotnonnorm

via www.brooksbaseball.net

and vs LHH

Zoneplotnonnorm

via www.brooksbaseball.net

You'll note the outside corner widens vs left-handed hitters while both sides were called liberally vs. right-handed hitters. In total Rays pitching received 14 favorable calls off the outside of the plate. Price struck out seven and walked two surrendering one run on a solo shot by Miguel Tejada in seven innings.

On May 21st, Cliff Lee took to the hill to face off against the Padres with Tim Welke behind the plate:

vs RHH

Zoneplotnonnorm

via www.brooksbaseball.net

vs LHH

Zoneplotnonnorm

via www.brooksbaseball.net

Lee received 9 favorable calls on outside pitchers against righties and four outside calls against lefties. Lee struck out seven and walked none, though surrendering a season high eight runs in 6.1 innings of work.

One thing you will notice is Welke is tighter about the bottom of the zone while really opening up the corners. Its probably safe to expect a pitcher's dual which is what you would expect between two Cy level pitchers with or without a generous umpire such as Welke.

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