“The road” is a big place. It’s comprised of a variety of different parks which play to different skill sets and probably most importantly, hosts different levels of competition. I’m not going to do any in-depth analysis using PitchFX or anything like that, I just want to point out that claiming someone struggles “on the road” is lazy, and that using minimal effort it’s easy to see why. (I’m going to use OPS against because it’s easy to look up, and easy to understand.)
First and foremost, take a guess as to where Zack gets hit the hardest.
Did you guess new Yankee stadium ( 1.396 OPS) and old Yankee stadium (1.050)? I’m sure it was the stadium and not the Yankees.
Rounding out the top 5 we have his 2 games in Wrigley (.994)*, 3 games in Arizona (.981) and 10 games on the south side of Chicago (.892). All of these are very small samples except for the White Sox, and if you look a little closer at the White Sox you’ll see that they really beat up Zack in 2008 (1.322) when their lineup featured Konerko, Quentin, Swisher, Dye, and Thome.
Now let’s take a look at the parks where Zack has excelled. He’s been at his absolute best in 3 games against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, possibly because he’s not sure where their home park is actually located. They put up a .444 OPS over 3 games. Next is the decidedly hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark (.483 in 3 games), followed by the decidedly hitter-friendly Coors Field (.558, 2 games). It will make all Brewer fans happy to know that next on the list is Busch Stadium (.587, 3 games). Rounding out the top 5 we have 6 games at Safeco (.621).
Zack does just fine in some places and struggles in others. He has, like many people, been beaten around in the Bronx, but he’s dominated in Boston (.233/.343/.300/.643). He’s had some tough luck in Wrigley but he’s shut down the Cardinals. What you see if you look a little closer is a combination of luck, quality competition, and ultimately a pitcher who pitches about how you would expect on the road. Zack’s career OPS against is .720. There are 14 stadia in which he allows a lower OPS, and 13 in which he allows a higher OPS.
Finally, on the folly of looking at wins and losses it is worth noting that in 3 games in Anaheim (or Los Angeles, or wherever. Stupid Angels.) he is 0-1 with a 1.02 ERA and a .679 WHIP. In Coors in 2 games he is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a .955 WHIP. In Busch Stadium he is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA, and a .913 WHIP.
“Wins” remain stupid.
*The Cubs’ BABIP against Zack at Wrigley is .571. The Marlins have the next highest against him at .395. The Cubs have gotten REALLY lucky.