Skip to Main Content
Fan Engagement, Industry Analysis Articles, Media & Tech, Team Performance

Call to Arms: Analyzing Relievers Who Could Play Key Roles in Game 6 of the World Series

By: Greg Gifford

As expected, the bullpens have played a major role in the 2020 World Series with each relief corps totaling at least 21 innings through the five games

With that, we’ve seen the good and the bad. The pens had a rough go in Game 4 when they allowed a combined 11 runs over 9 2/3 innings in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 8-7 victory. Then, they were at their best in Game 5 when they gave up no runs over a combined 7 1/3 innings in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 4-2 win.

We’ve already covered the Tony Gonsolin/Blake Snell starting matchup in Game 2 and the bullpens are likely to be a key factor once again in whether the Dodgers wrap up their first title since 1988 or the Rays force a Game 7. So we’re using TVL data to break down an important reliever from each side who’s likely to make an appearance in tonight’s Game 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

TVL tracks pitch type (T), velocity (V) and location (L) for each pitcher and records the data into categories such as usage percentage of a specific pitch, the average velocity of each pitch type and the percentage a batter hits the ball on the ground against that pitch. It’s also used to determine the actual intent of each pitch, which is a key component of metrics like Command+.

Here’s a look at the repertoire for Tampa Bay’s Loup and Los Angeles’ Blake Treinen, including how their pitches move and how they intend to use them to attack hitters through the lens of TVL data (through LDS games). The intent graphics are from the pitcher’s viewpoint, while the movement charts are from the catcher’s perspective:

AARON LOUP

The Rays have a stable of relievers from both sides that pump upper-90s gas to the top of the strike zone, but Loup isn’t one of those guys. The Rays’ top lefty reliever sits in the low 90s with his two-seamer, which is impressive for a sidearmer, and he brings three other pitches to go with the fastball.

His favorite secondary pitch against lefties is his lateral sweeping curve, while he leans heavily on the tighter slider against righties and mixes in a few changeups. With the new three-batter rule and left-handers spread all throughout the Dodgers lineup, Loup is likely going to have to go to every pitch in his arsenal if he gets in the game tonight.

As others have mentioned throughout the playoffs, the Rays bullpen comes at hitters from all kinds of different arm angles. Loup is perfect to satisfy the role of low-angled lefty. In fact, the only left-handed pitcher that had a lower arm angle than Loup was Tim Hill in San Diego.

The low arm angle gives him more side spin on his pitches, which in turn leads to very little depth or ride on anything he throws. It is worth noting that he actually drops his arm angle a little more on changeups and curveballs. It’s probably not enough for a batter to pick up on the fly, but it lets those two offerings get a little extra drop to them.

As we’ve mentioned a lot, the Rays love to work up in the zone. Lefties facing Loup need to be looking down though. While he looks to go up about 5% of the time against lefties, he mostly looks to attack both sides of the plate down with his two-seamer, curve, and slider.

BLAKE TREINEN 

Treinen has had an up and down career, but he’s been very good (for the most part) in his first year with the Dodgers.

His calling card has always been a ridiculous upper-90s sinker, but he really has four quality pitches. Righties will see 98% two-seamers and sliders, but lefties will see all four offerings, with the slider being the least used at 17.9%.

The sinker is still the star here. Sitting at 97 with almost a foot of run on average, it is the pitch that has made Treinen a ground ball machine over his career.

(left four-seamers, right two-seamers)

(left sliders, right cutters)

Most pitchers will move their pitches around in the zone, but Treinen is almost robotic with his intents. His four-seamers will almost always be up in the zone, two-seamers to his glove-side, sliders down off the plate, and cutters up and in against lefties.

Outside of the rare situation where he tries to nip the black, he’s generally just going to trust his stuff and execution.

 

Enjoy this? Subscribe to The Analyst to receive five stories each Friday from Stats Perform. It’s free.