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After the first three games in this WS, Dodgers took the advantage and leads 2-1 thanks to a stellar performance by Walker Buehler who kept Rays’ batters on a leash for most of the game. Now, we head to game four and the announced openers are Julio Urias and Ryan Yarbrough, two lefthanded pitchers with postseason records of 4-0 W-L, 0.56 ERA, 16.0 IP, 16K, 0.63 WHIP and 1-0 W-L, 3.38 ERA, 10.2 IP, 6 K, and 1.31 WHIP, respectively.
Let’s dive into their performances and try to estimate what can we expect from them today.
Yarbrough has been, for most of his Tampa stint, an “opener”, the guy usually used by Kevin Cash to start bullpen games and for most of that time, he’s been very effective: during the 2020 season, he averaged 3.56 ERA and 3.80 FIP, his K% and BB% are not overwhelming to be honest, sitting on 18.8% and 5.1% for a K%-BB% of 13.7%. Those are not pretty special numbers, but he has been able to live with them because he induces a good deal of medium to soft contact, almost 75% of the time, so his 25.1% Hard Hit% was among the best 2% of the league.
Ryan has 4 type of pitches: Cutter, Changeup, Sinker and Curveball; his most effective are the changeup (used primarily against right-handed batters) and the Curveball (against left-handed players) with a wOBA of .240 and .230 against each.
The defining word for Yarbrough would be unsurprising: you normally know what to expect from his performances, for better or worse. The fact that he pitches less than innings than a “traditional” starter makes him even more predictable in a way.
Julio is the man of the hour from the Dodger’s pitching roster; his postseason has been short of extraordinaire, particularly against San Diego and Atlanta taking 3 of his 4 PS wins against them, including the final 3 shutout innings in NLCS to put the Dogers in the World Series:
Urias uses 3 principal pitches: 4-seamer, curveball and the changeup, being the curveball his most effective pitch during the regular season with a .212 wOBA.
How do they fare one vs the other?
To try to answer this, let’s focus on the following stats:
This chart summarizes some important stats for both left-handers for the period from mid-2019 to the end of the 2020 regular seasons. This is the way I’m mostly approaching pitchers’ analysis due to the shortened 2020 season, to avoid the small sample bias.
As we can see, both records are unimpressive to be honest. Only Urias barely sub-3.00 ERA is good, the rest are average or above average numbers, leading to a poor Kwindex for each of them.
The (k-bb)/ip is in fact worrisome and their pCRA points to a worse ERA than what they got for the period.
I’m very partial to believe that this is going to be a “bullpen” bullpen’s game, with both pitchers leaving really soon the mound, although Cash’s recent decisions on pulling his starters have been kind of baffling.
In this regard, things point to a Tampa’s advantage for game 4.
All data used was taken from https://www.fangraphs.com/, https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/, and/or https://www.baseball-reference.com/, unless otherwise stated different. pCRA data was taken from this Tableau, maintained by its creator Connor Kurcon.