NLDS Game 4 Predictions: How Will 2013 Foul Ball Rates Impact Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants and Nationals?

The 2014 postseason keeps rolling along. The Dodgers and Cardinals series is the only one left on the docket before we go into the Championship Series’. 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 4

Dodgers vs. Cardinals

 

The Dodgers have called on Clayton Kershaw to get them through Game 4. In Game 1, he managed 6.2 innings on 110 pitches. The foul ball stats for Kershaw, he’s worse—though marginally—against left-handed batters, letting those at-bats result in the batter getting on base via a hit or walk or something else like a balk or other error 27.1% of the time. He fairs slightly better against right-handed batters by getting out nearly 75% of batters in some way—strikeout, fly, ground out, etc.

His last start against the Cardinals was against Wainwright; this time he’s facing off against Shelby Miller. Miller managed to allow an offensive play in 46 of the 162 right-handed plate appearances. That means he’s letting only 28.4% of righties generate any type of offense. Against the other side, he’s at 31.6%. This difference should be key to how the lineup is set against him.

 

As before, the Cardinals need to stack a few left-handed hitters against Kershaw. The Dodgers simply need to put an all-righty lineup against Miller to get him out quickly.

 

Prediction: Based on how things are panning out in the playoffs—with pitch counts averaging sub-100s in both leagues—I predict Kershaw will be out at 7 innings and Miller will leave the hill in 6 as a result of foul balls building the count to the new magic number of 99.5 pitches on average for the NLWC and NLDS games to this point.

 

 

Giants vs. Nationals

 

After forcing a Game 4 against the Giants, the Nationals have named Gio Gonzalez their starter. The Giants are going with Ryan Vogelsong.

 

Gio Gonzalez has done some good work against only the right side of the plate. He allowed only 22.5% right-handed batters to do anything in 2013, but his numbers skyrocket against south paws. He let 19 of 52 left-handed plate appearance generate offense, a whopping 36.5%.

 

Vogelsong didn’t face nearly as many hitters with one or more fouls during their at-bat. He’s allowed 26 of 61 righties (42.6) and 19 of 52 lefties (36.5%) to create an offensive play.  Compared to other starters’ numbers, Vogelsong has the worse foul ball to offensive play percentages.

 

Prediction: The Giants need to run a right-handed heavy lineup against Gonzalez. If they do, they can have him out by 6. The Giants are flirting with disaster by putting Vogelsong on the hill. The Nationals just need to swing for contact, because Vogelsong tosses pitches that let that happen. Regardless of the lineup, Vogelsong will be gone at about 5 innings.

 

Continue the conversation on @FoulBallzMLB.