Statcast previews Mets-Dodgers NLDS
There will obviously be no shortage of aces taking the mound in the National League Division Series matchup between the Dodgers and the Mets that begins Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, TBS).
While both teams boast multiple ace-caliber starters, however, there are certainly differences in the way each pitcher attacks hitters.
From dissecting every pitch thrown by those starters, Statcast™ can provide some explanation as to how they all differ and what makes each so dominant.
The pitching matchups won't be the only thing worth watching in this series, though, as both teams also bring their share of sluggers to the plate -- and can even pose a threat on the basepaths at times.
Here's a closer look at some of the key players and metrics worth keeping an eye on, courtesy of Statcast™.
Curtis Granderson: Speed
Though Granderson may no longer have the wheels to duplicate his 23-triple season from 2007, the veteran outfielder proved this season that he's still capable of manufacturing runs on the basepaths. Along with racking up 11 stolen bases (his most since 2011), Granderson once again became an instant threat to score any time he reached base.
Take for instance, New York's Sept. 24 game against the Reds, when Granderson blazed a path to home all the way from first base to score the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. Granderson reached a max speed of 19 mph on the play, while touching home plate just 11.3 seconds after taking off from first. Believe it or not, that number was actually above his average time of 10.9 seconds on the nine plays that Statcast™ tracked him going from first to home. Among all the players to score from first more than five times this year, only Christian Yelich (10.3 seconds), Elvis Andrus (10.7) and Chase Utley (10.8) averaged a faster time.
Video: [email protected]: Statcast™ tracks Cespedes' moonshotYoenis Cespedes: Exit velocity
Cespedes quickly became a fan favorite after being acquired by the Mets at this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, thanks to his timely, towering home runs down the stretch. After hitting 18 homers over his 102 games with the Tigers to begin the year, the outfielder teed off for 17 more home runs in his 57 games with the Mets. One thing that remained the same at both stops was his ability to consistently make solid contact. Cespedes finished the year with an average exit velocity of 93.5 mph, which was ninth-highest among players who put at least 200 balls in play.
None of those 17 home runs with the Mets were hit harder than the one he crushed against Nationals ace Max Scherzer on Sept. 7. Cespedes teed off for an absolute moonshot off the former Cy Young Award winner, sending the ball off the bat at a scorching 109.7 mph. The towering drive reached a max height of 174.5 feet as it logged a hang time of 7.3 seconds before narrowly clearing the left-field wall.
Video: [email protected]: Statcast™ tracks the distance on Duda's homerLucas Duda: Power
Though Cespedes crushed his fair share of homers, it was actually Duda that accounted for each of the Mets' three longest home runs this year. The longest of those blasts came on July 28 against the Padres when he obliterated a pitch from James Shields, sending the ball a projected distance of 456 feet to straightaway center field. It wasn't just distance, however, as Duda's average exit velocity of 93.1 mph on all balls in play was 15th-highest among all players who put at least 200 balls in play.
Starting rotation: Velocity
It's no secret that the Mets' young, star-studded rotation is one of the hardest-throwing pitching staffs in all of baseball. Statcast™ easily backs up that claim, considering New York had three of the top 15 hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the Majors this season. Rookie hurler Noah Syndergaard led the way by averaging 97.2 mph on his fastball, second-highest among starters who threw at least 500 fastballs. Matt Harvey, meanwhile, checked in at sixth among starters with his 96.2-mph average fastball and Jacob deGrom wasn't far behind at 95.3 mph, good for the 15th-highest average. No other team had three starters in the top 15, and only the Indians had even two (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco).
Video: [email protected]: Pederson travels 472 feet in Coors FieldJoc Pederson: Power
While Pederson's power numbers may have dipped midseason, the rookie slugger served up a reminded on the final day of the regular season that he's still very capable of leaving the yard on any given swing. Pederson hit the last of his 26 home runs in the Dodgers' regular-season finale against the Padres, but the two that stand out the most were actually hit on the same day back in June.
After crushing a projected 472-foot blast in the first game of a doubleheader against the Rockies at Coors Field, Pederson teed off for an even longer, 477-foot homer in the nightcap. Those held up as his two longest homers of the year, while also checking in as the 13th- and 21st-longest in the Majors, respectively. Pederson actually accounted for each of Los Angeles' three longest home runs -- and six of their top eight -- on the season.
Utley may not be known much for his speed these days, but the veteran second baseman has certainly provided the Dodgers with a bit of a lift since being acquired from the Phillies. As mentioned above, on plays where Utley scored from first base, his average time from first-to-home was just 10.8 seconds. That mark not only places him just ahead of Granderson, but it's also the third-fastest among all players to make that 270-foot dash more than five times.
Video: Statcast™ looks at Kershaw and GreinkeClayton Kershaw: Opponent exit velocity
Kershaw not only led the Majors with a staggering 301 strikeouts this year, but he rarely allowed opponents to hit the ball hard even when they managed to put it in play. In fact, Kershaw held the opposition to an average exit velocity of 85.4 mph, the third-lowest total among all starting pitchers. That mark places him just slightly behind two fellow Cy Young Award candidates, as Jake Arrieta led the way with an 85.2-mph average exit velocity and Dallas Keuchel finished second at 85.3 mph. One of the keys to Kershaw's success may be that the spin rate on his four-seam fastball (2,207 RPM) is nearly identical to that of his changeup (2,133 RPM), making it even more difficult for hitters to decipher between the two.