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Buehler vs. Morton: Breaking Down the World Series Game 3 Pitching Matchup With TVL Data

By: Greg Gifford

Brandon Lowe finally broke out of his postseason slump and the Tampa Bay Rays built a five-run lead before holding on for a 6-4 victory that evened up the World Series at a game apiece on Wednesday night.

Ahead of tonight’s Game 3 of the Fall Classic at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, we’re using our TVL data to break down each starting pitchers’ repertoire, how their pitches move, and how they intend to use them to attack hitters.

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+.

So here’s how the mound matchup between Walker Buehler of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Charlie Morton of the Rays looks 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:

WALKER BUEHLER

Buehler isn’t afraid to use any of his pitches against left-handers or right-handers, but he’s going to throw far more four-seamers than any other pitch no matter the situation.

It’s an explosive pitch that can touch 100 and has excellent ride (see below) that makes it by far his best pitch.

It’s always fun when a pitcher throws three breaking balls and Buehler adds an extra element by varying the velocity on all three of his breakers. So he can hit any velocity from 79-96 with some sort of glove-side movement.

Outside of the occasional backdoor cutter, Buehler pretty much only throws his slider and cutter to his glove-side. However, his curve (above) is a different story. He’ll generally look to bury it with two strikes, but he’s comfortable throwing it to either side of the zone.

This should be an important pitch for Buehler tonight. He’s been successful in generating whiffs with it all year, but he’s also given up a lot of hard contact on it.

CHARLIE MORTON

Morton was once a low 90s sinker-baller that remodeled himself to be a carbon copy of the great Roy Halladay, but he hasn’t been that guy for a long time. The heavy sinker is still a big part of his arsenal against right-handers (36% vs. RHH), but half of his pitches against lefties will be four-seamers.

His wicked curveball is still his main out pitch, and his cutter has really morphed into more of a slider based on movement at this stage of his career.

For the most part, the starters in this series so far have been pitchers with great ride on their four-seamers and 12-to-6 or 11-to-5 curveballs. Morton breaks that trend, with a little more run on his four-seamer and a massive two-plane break on his curve.

As mentioned earlier, he still gets excellent movement on his two-seamer as well.

The Dodgers are likely to have five or six left-handed batters in the lineup, and they’re going to have to be prepared to hit all over the zone tonight.

In typical Rays fashion, Morton will use a ton of four-seamers and the occasional cutter at or above the top of the zone. He’ll also throw a bunch of curves around the knees and mix in some cutters and changeups.

 

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