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The Two Faces of Roger

Always looking for patterns. Whether your interest in baseball is as a rabid fan, as a sabermetrician, or as a gambler, you're always looking for patterns.

Astros are 55 - 28 at home.
Pettitte has a 2.30 ERA innings one through six.
Ensberg slugged .475 in September.
They're all patterns through which we seek to understand just what the hell is going on out there.

I want to understand, too. I especially want to understand Roger Clemens lately. His start tomorrow could very well be the key to the World Series for my beloved Houston Astros, but the Rocket's been a bit spotty as of late: great some games, not-so-hot in others.

The first thing that jumps out at you is that most of Roger's better performances recently have come in Houston; most of his poorer ones on the road. The exceptions you can see to that are August 18 at Minute Maid vs. Milwaukee, which was the original subpar start from Clemens, and in two starts out west. At Los Angeles August 28, in that game where the ump refused to award Biggio first after being hit by a Jeff Weaver pitch, Clemens was brilliant, despite his no-decision.

And Rocket was nearly as good at San Diego the start before, on August 23rd.

So what do you got? four out of five home appearances have been reasonably good, and three out of five road starts have been pretty lousy.

Is this a pattern, or random noise? Well, I hope it's a pattern, 'cause Roger is not on the road tomorrow.

But to be honest, I only noticed the home/road thing after I started looking at the numbers. My original idea was that Clemens had simply been pitching well every other start. One good, one bad. One good, one bad.

And the numbers surrounding this maybe line up a bit better.

Calling the terrible home start vs. Milwaukee game one, game two was in fact good at San Diego, but game three in Los Angeles again breaks the pattern down: Clemens was positively showered with superlatives from Vin Scully.

But from there, the congruence re-forms: Clemens in order: was good at home vs. St. Louis, was lousy at Milwaukee, saved our season vs. Florida at home, was very hittable at Pittsburgh, and turned the tide again against Chicago October first. And this has continued into the playoffs: the start vs. Atlanta? Not so good. The relief appearance? Legendary.

And as tomorrow's game follows that, the pattern-seeking part of my brain is concerned. But the fact is that it is most likely that the ebbs and the flows in Clemens' game have nothing to do with any of the simplistic patterns that I can see. While patterns to his game certainly exist, they are probably well beyond any human's limited ability to a) be familiar enough with Roger's body and soul or b) recognize the underlying many-cycled fractal patterns that only look like randomness to us.

While doctors have a good plan of attack for all the various ailments that might afflict a professional athlete these days, the ability to predict a response time for some of them remains rudimentary. "It needs time," they say, but what they are really saying is, "we haven't noticed the pattern yet." And so it is with Roger's beleaguered hamstring. We have no wayof knowing how it will respond to an hour of unexpected strain, followed by nearly a week of rest.

In short, there's no way to predict how well Clemens might do tomorrow, no matter what numbers I pull out of my baseball cap, no matter which doctor you might get the professional opinion from.

So I'll have to be content with saying "Go Astros," and talking ball with the deli guy at the local Albertson's.

 

The Two Faces of Roger
Rocket at Home Since August 18
DATE OPP IP H ER HR BB SO GB FB GSc ERA WHIP
Oct. 9 ATL 3 1 0 0 0 4 4 2 - 0.00 0.33
Oct. 1 CHC 7 6 1 0 3 5 12 2 63 1.29 1.29
Sep. 14 FLA 6-1/3 5 1 0 2 4 8 8 61 1.42 1.11
Sep. 3 STL 5 4 2 0 2 2 11 6 51 3.60 1.20
Aug. 18 MIL 6-1/3 5 5 1 2 7 5 10 48 7.11 1.11
Home Totals 27-2/3 21 9 1 9 22 40 28 55.75 2.93 1.08
 
Roger on the Road Since August 23
DATE OPP IP H ER HR BB SO GB FB GSc ERA WHIP
Oct. 6 @ATL 5 6 5 1 3 2 10 5 34 9.00 1.80
Sep. 19 @PIT 5-2/3 11 4 1 1 5 7 12 31 6.35 2.12
Sep. 9 @MIL 3 5 5 2 5 2 8 2 26 15.00 3.33
Aug. 28 @LAD 6 2 0 0 2 5 9 4 71 0.00 0.67
Aug. 23 @SD 8 5 2 1 1 7 9 7 70 2.25 0.75
Road Totals 27-2/3 29 16 5 12 21 43 30 46.4 5.20 1.48
 
Roger in Even-Numbered Starts Since August 18
DATE OPP IP H ER HR BB SO GB FB GSc ERA WHIP
Oct. 6 @ATL 5 6 5 1 3 2 10 5 34 9.00 1.80
Sep. 19 @PIT 5-2/3 11 4 1 1 5 7 12 31 6.35 2.12
Sep. 9 @MIL 3 5 5 2 5 2 8 2 26 15.00 3.33
Aug. 28 @LAD 6 2 0 0 2 5 9 4 71 0.00 0.67
Aug. 18 MIL 6-1/3 5 5 1 2 7 5 10 48 7.11 1.11
"Even Roger" Totals 26 29 19 5 13 21 39 33 40.5 6.58 1.62
 
Roger in Odd-Numbered Starts Since August 23
DATE OPP IP H ER HR BB SO GB FB GSc ERA WHIP
Oct. 9 ATL 3 1 0 0 0 4 4 2 - 0.00 0.33
Oct. 1 CHC 7 6 1 0 3 5 12 2 63 1.29 1.29
Sep. 14 FLA 6-1/3 5 1 0 2 4 8 8 61 1.42 1.11
Sep. 3 STL 5 4 2 0 2 2 11 6 51 3.60 1.20
Aug. 23 @SD 8 5 2 1 1 7 9 7 70 2.25 0.75
"Odd Roger" Totals 29-1/3 21 6 1 8 22 44 25 58.6 1.84 0.99