The Maddux: “A pitcher must toss a complete-game shutout and throw no more than 99 total pitches.” [source]
Milwaukee has enjoyed some quality pitching from their starting rotation in recent weeks. In fact, the rotation has compiled a 2.90 ERA through 24 starts in the month of September — an impressive number that was highlighted by a brilliant outing from Kyle Lohse on Wednesday evening against the Atlanta Braves.
Lohse needed only 89 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout, surrendering a mere two hits and making it look rather easy all night. Such a performance is regularly overlooked. It won’t get the same publicity as a no-hitter, and only five strikeouts won’t get Lohse top billing on SportsCenter. But the efficiency and effectiveness with which the right-hander mowed down hitters on Wednesday should be very notable.
That’s why the “Maddux” — defined above — is such an intriguing statistic. You can read more about the statistic’s genesis via the source link provided, but the point of the Maddux is to celebrate a different kind of dominance.
On Wednesday evening, Kyle Lohse gave the Brewers their 11th “Maddux” since 1988 (when Major League Baseball began accurately recording pitch counts). That’s tied with the Angels and Reds for the 10th most in baseball. Lohse joins the following Brewers on the Maddux list:
|Pitcher||# of Madduxes|
Keep in mind, this list only encompasses starts since the beginning of 1988, so it’s by no means a comprehensive list. It’s slightly surprising Ben Sheets never threw a Maddux for the Brewers. However, none of his four complete-game shutouts featured fewer than 100 pitches.
Lohse employed a simple plan on Wednesday night. He wanted to throw strikes and avoid using his sinking fastball. The right-hander only threw 26 fastballs (29.2% of his pitches) against the Braves. By comparison, he threw 35 sliders, 18 changeups and 10 curveballs. The Braves have shown a propensity to struggle against offspeed pitches, and Lohse clearly wanted to exploit that weakness.
His slider was particularly effective. He threw 32-of-35 sliders for strikes (91.4%) and 20 of those strikes were not put into play. It wasn’t his best swing-and-miss pitch (that’s generally his changeup), but it proved to be an important pitch throughout the evening.
The right-hander also consistently pounded the outer half against righties and was willing to challenge lefties on the inner portion of the plate. Check out his pitch chart. Not only was he throwing a plethora of offspeed pitches, he primarily focused on the right side (from the catcher’s view) of the plate.
Brewers pitchers have consistently worked the outer part of the plate to righties this year, and it’s easy to see Lohse’s focus on that portion of the strike zone. Of course, against guys like Andrelton Simmons, B.J. Upton, Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla, it only makes sense to keep the ball away — especially if you’re going to throw primarily offspeed pitches. Hanging those on the inner half is a quick way to exit the ballgame with a huge deficit.
The 34-year-old veteran has been extremely solid for the Brewers this year. It will be interesting to see whether the organization seeks to move him for future talent this winter, but this article isn’t meant to ruminate over his future in Milwaukee. Instead, I wanted to highlight his stellar performance on Wednesday against the Braves and discuss the Maddux statistic.
Kyle Lohse didn’t throw a no-hitter and didn’t rack up double-digit strikeouts. He also barely touched 92 mph with his fastball. But he was efficient and effective. He handcuffed the Braves’ lineup all night without appearing dominant. In short, he threw a Maddux, and that’s pretty damn impressive.