Cody Bellinger appears to be back after a lackluster regular season, Mookie Betts is playing like the difference-maker the Dodgers hoped he’d be and Los Angeles took advantage of Tyler Glasnow’s six walks on the way to an 8-3 win in Game 1 of the World Series.
Before the Tampa Bay Rays try to even the Fall Classic at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, we’re using our TVL data to break down what the starters’ pitch usage looks like, how each of those 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+.
All that data is broken down further to show opponents’ batting average, slugging percentage, swing percentage and swing-and-miss percentage each time a specific pitch is thrown.
So here’s how tonight’s matchup between 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell of the Rays and likely opener Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers 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:
Unlike the two pitchers last night, Snell uses four pitches regularly. He likes to attack hitters early with his fastball (66% usage in 0-0 counts, 44% in all other counts), and then go more to his secondary stuff. From there, his attack will depend on where he is in the count.
If he falls behind, expect to see a lot of changeups (except against left-handers – he hasn’t thrown a changeup to a lefty all year). If he gets an advantage, it will be a steady diet of breaking balls. He threw over 50% curves and sliders when ahead in the count this season.
His pitch mix is pretty typical in terms of movement and velocity. Each pitch has clear a clear grouping, which shows consistency in his mechanics and release.
Snell’s approach might be similar to Glasnow’s last night with high fastballs and curveballs tunneling off of them, but his curve just doesn’t have the same elite drop.
Snell’s slider is his least-used pitch (14.3% overall), but that usage jumps to 25.2% when he’s ahead in the count. It’s a pure swing-and-miss pitch that, as shown above, he will consistently use glove-side and down below the strike zone in an attempt to get hitters to chase.
It’ll be key for the Dodgers to lay off these sliders as much as possible.
Gonsolin has four pitches in his bag, and his plan should vary quite a bit based on hitter-handedness. Against righties, he usually attacks the left side of the plate with his four-seamer and his slider and uses his dastardly splitter below the zone to generate whiffs or weak contact.
The right-hander takes a much simpler approach against lefties. Almost 90% of his pitches against left-handed batters are likely to be a four-seamer or splitter. With five lefties in the Rays lineup tonight, expect to see a lot of splits in what should be a short outing after he threw 41 pitches three days ago.
Gonsolin sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, and his aforementioned splitter dives down with unpredictable movement.
He also has elite separation in movement from between his fastball, curve, and splitter, as our friend Eno Sarris has noted before.
These pitchers had more than a 9 inch difference between the vertical movement on their fastball & their slider, and more than a 19 inch difference between fastball & curve: Trevor Bauer, Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Dylan Bundy, and Tony Gonsolin. pic.twitter.com/SEG29am7M2
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) October 13, 2020
Gonsolin really doesn’t like to challenge hitters inside very much. Against lefties (pic 1), he intended to go inside just 13.5% of the time.
That number was even lower against right-handers (pic 2), with only 11.7% being aimed at the inside part of the plate.
Enjoy this? Subscribe to The Analyst to receive five stories each Friday from Stats Perform. It’s free.