The Data Day No. 5: Our Rolling MLB Postseason Blog
In the most anticipated matchup of these playoffs so far, the teams with the best records in baseball meet in Game 5. As we’ve done throughout the postseason, we’re using TVL data to examine the showdown with a trip to the NLCS on the line.
After dominating the Los Angeles Dodgers in his playoff debut in Game 1, Logan Webb will take the mound again for the San Francisco Giants in tonight’s winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Oracle Park.
Webb gave up just five hits and struck out 10 with no walks over 7.2 innings, guiding the Giants to a 4-0 victory in the series opener. The right-hander did not allow a runner to reach third base after the first inning.
Using TVL data, we are able to analyze the pitch type, velocity, location and intent (think target) of every pitch. In Game 1, Webb’s changeup usage immediately stands out.
Logan Webb Season Usage vs. Game 1 Usage
|Pitch Type||Season Total||Season Usage||Game 1 Total||Game 1 Usage|
Although he’s only used his changeup 23.9% of the time overall this season, Webb went to the pitch 41.3% of the time in Game 1.
While many pitchers reserve their changeup for hitters of the opposite handedness (right-handed pitchers vs. left-handed batters or lefties vs. righties), Webb is willing to throw his changeup to both right- and left-handed hitters. On the season, 15.8% of Webb’s pitches to righties were changeups whereas in Game 1 of the series, that number was 33.3%.
When ahead in the account against righties last Friday night, Webb threw nine changeups (of 24 total pitches in that situation – good for 37.5%). Four of those nine changeups struck out a Dodgers hitter, including Trea Turner twice.
Not surprisingly, Webb was even more changeup heavy against lefties in Game 1. More than half of his offerings to Dodger lefties were changeups. Look for him to continue to lean heavily on his change, and for Dodgers hitters to attack early in the count before Webb has the opportunity to use the change as an out pitch.
Webb has been a tough matchup for Los Angeles all season, going 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in four starts – including Game 1 – in the 2021 edition of this rivalry. Mookie Betts and Will Smith did have two hits apiece off Webb in the opener, but AJ Pollock (1 for 7), Justin Turner (1 for 7) and Cody Bellinger (1 for 9) haven’t fared well against him this season.
The Dodgers will counter by giving the ball to right-handed reliever Corey Knebel for one- or two-innings at the most before turning to 20-game winner and Game 2 starter Julio Urias for as far as he’ll go. Starting Knebel as an “opener” prevents the Giants from stacking the top of their lineup with right-handers and also allows Urias to potentially go deeper into the game.
The 25-year-old Urias has already tossed 43.2 postseason innings in his career and 5.0 of those came in Saturday’s 9-2 win in Game 2. The hard-throwing southpaw features only three pitches in his arsenal – a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup. To lefties, Urias overwhelming sticks to just four-seamers and curveballs. To righties, he uses each of the three offerings at least 21.0% of the time.
When he’s ahead in the count to lefties, Urias isn’t shy about using his curveball with great frequency. When analyzing 0-2 and 1-2 counts versus lefties, Urias uses his curveball 51.7% of the time. His success in Game 5 could be dependent on his ability to get ahead in counts since his curveball is his most effective pitch. Opponents had an OPS of just .419 against his curveball this year, compared to .810 versus his fastball.
Buster Posey looks to be a major threat against Urias tonight. The veteran catcher has gone 7 for 10 with three doubles against the Dodgers lefty this season, including the playoffs. Austin Slater has also hit well in the matchup, going 6 for 17 with a homer and three doubles in 2021.
Both Posey and Slater doubled off Urias in Game 2. Whereas Webb had great success with his changeup in his first start of this postseason, both doubles that Urias allowed were off his change.
Despite some Giants performing quite well against him, Urias has gone 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA in four starts – including Game 2 – at Oracle Park this season.
Design by Matt Sisneros.