NLDS Game 3 Foul Ball Predictions: Giants, Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers

The 2014 postseason keeps rolling along. How will knowing foul ball stats help each team? That is what we are going to look at over the postseason.

All stats are from the 2013 season for either a night game or a day game, depending on when it is being played, and at-bats that included 1 or more foul balls. The following data comes from our foul ball database that draws from Retrosheet.org.

All percentages represent a combination of batters who got on base themselves, helped force an error, a wild pitch, a steal or otherwise generated offense.

 

NLDS Game 3

Giants vs. Nationals

 

On the mound for the San Francisco Giants for this crucial night game is Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner faced 171 right-handed at-bats last season. Of those, 57 batters got on or helped force an error, wild pitch or steal for an incredible batter success rate of 33.3%. One in three batters were able to get something to happen. However, as is the case with Lester and Shields, he shut down southpaws. If you swatted a pitch into foul territory, you had a miserable 17.6% success rate that you would get on base or otherwise create a defensive disruption in the game. Of the 51 left-handed at-bats, only nine managed anything last season.

Doug Fister, who’s turned into a force to fear since leaving the Detroit Tigers, is on the hill for the Nationals. But his foul ball success rates are about average. Against right-handed batters Fister was about get 69.4%, thus allowing nearly 1/3rd of hitters (30.6%) to generate offense. He was a little better against left-handed batters though, facing 99 and allowing 28 (28.3%) to make something happen

 

Based on foul ball data alone, the Giants need to run a right-handed lineup against Fister, while the Nationals must use an entirely right-handed lineup against Bumgarner. For the Nationals to even include one lefty in the batting order is virtually giving an out to the Giants.

 

Prediction: Running these lineups against these pitchers, the Giants will be to the bullpen within 7 innings. The Nationals will get Bumgarner out within 6, if they take this advice.

 

 

Cardinals vs. Dodgers

 

Hyun-Jim Ryu of the Dodgers is not a pitcher the Cardinals want to face as it relates to foul balls. Ryu only allows roughly 1 in 5 of righties (21.5%) and lefties (22.2%) to do much of anything against him after the hitter swats away one or more pitches.

 

The Cardinals’ John Lackey is nearly as effective at shutting down both sides of the plate. He allows only 23.1% (21/91) right-handed batters in regulation night games to generate anything. The numbers for lefties are slightly worse (or better if you’re the batter). Of the 133 plate appearance by south paws made against him a mere 39 (29.3%) have been able to create an offensive play.

 

This is a very tough call. The hurlers are matched well. But the foul ball advantage goes to Ryu. What will be key is how well either team can generate offense without hitting away any pitches. With neither pitcher in the 30% range, it’s going to end up being a pitcher’s duel to be sure.

 

Prediction: Regardless of what he faces from the Cardinals, Ryu will last at least 8 innings. Lackey, if the Dodgers load their order with a few left-handed bats, will go 7 minimum.