Rockies @ Dodgers September 17, 2018: Most important series of the year edition

(Via)

If you told us that the Dodgers would take three of four from the Cardinals, we would’ve taken that. If you told us the Rockies would drop two of three to the Giants who were in the midst of an 11 game losing streak, we would’ve taken that as well. We received both, however, it’s still deflating to get beaten by the corpse of Adam Wainwright. Nevertheless, the Dodgers are in a much better position to make the playoffs now than they were after dropping two of three to the Reds. They currently sit half a game behind the Rockies (82-67), and are tied with the Cardinals (82-68) for the second Wild Card spot. If the Dodgers sweep the Rockies they’ll be up 2.5 in the division with nine to play. If they get swept, they’ll be down 3.5. The Dodgers will send Hyun-Jin Ryu who features a 2.42 ERA against Jon Gray with an ERA almost double that at 4.80. This series likely decides the fate of the Dodgers season so no pressure.

Rockies
Dodgers
7:10 PM
Los Angeles
CF
Blackmon
LF
Pederson
2B
LeMahieu
3B
Turner
3B
Arenado
SS
Machado
SS
Story
1B
Muncy
LF
Holiday
RF
Puig
1B
Desmond
CF
Bellinger
RF
Gonzalez C Grandal
C
Butera
2B
Hernandez
P
Gray (R)
P
Ryu (R)

Gray has allowed a .793 OPS against LHB with a 4.26 FIP, compared to .702 against RHB with a 3.40 FIP. Understandably, besides the regulars in Manny Machado and Justin Turner, Roberts is rolling out the left-handed heavy lineup. Yasiel Puig and Enrique Hernandez are the lone exceptions, however both are hitting better against right-handed pitching this year.

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Ryu has only thrown 63 innings this year, so he won’t qualify in any leaderboards. Gray on the other hand has thrown 161.1 innings, but in order to compare them to more pitchers, here’s how they rank out of 93 starters who’ve logged at least 120 innings. Ryu is ranked where he would be if these were his stats over 120 innings.

Of 93 starters to throw at least 120 innings this year, Jon Gray sits at 3.0 fWAR — 27th in the league and 14th in the NL. Incredible? No, but Gray used to be considered the ace of this staff, and as their third best starter this year, Gray is a heck of a pitcher. In the entire league, only the Mets and the Indians have a better #3 starter by fWAR in Carlos Carrasco (4.6) and Noah Syndergaard (3.8). His high ERA is the reason he was demoted to Triple-A for 10 innings earlier in the year. However, his peripherals indicate that he’s a much better pitcher than his ERA would imply. The difference between his FIP and ERA (0.97) is the second largest differential in the league, and the .316 BABIP against is the eighth highest mark in the league. Kyle Freeland, the consensus Rockies’ Ace has a near identical FIP at 3.77, but has an ERA on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, outperforming his FIP by -0.87 sitting with an ERA of 2.96. Since the conception of the Rockies in 1991, Freeland has the second lowest BABIP allowed (.249) of any Colorado starter in any year in which that pitcher threw at least 40 innings. Freeland has a 4.07 FIP at home compared to 2.36 ERA there, but regardless this is about Gray. The thing about advanced stats like FIP is that they’re most useful as projections of future performance, as opposed to explining past performance. Even though Gray features strong peripherals, his recent performance is likely more important in a singular game. Over his last seven starts (39.2 innings), Gray has a 4.99 ERA and a 6.05 FIP —— hopefully the Dodgers get to face that version of Gray tonight.

Ryu has a higher strikeout rate than Luis Severino despite throwing his fastball (90.1 MPH) approximately 7.5 MPH slower on average. He’s one of only three pitchers in the top 30 in strikeout rate while averaging less than 91 MPH on his fastball —— the others are Patrick Corbin (90.7) and….Clayton Kershaw (90.9). He has dropped the usage of his fastball to just 30.8%, and increased his usage of his cutter to 24.8%. The results have been incredible to date, as Ryu has posted personal bests in every meaningful category. If the Dodgers can get a typical 2018 contribution from him and a typical 2018 performance from Gray, they should have a good chance to take the first game of this important series.

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Tony Gonsolin and Gavin Lux both received recognition for their strong seasons.

John Axford, Yimi Garcia, and Tony Cingrani have all been activated. With 12 games left, it’s hard to picture any of them pitching in high leverage situations. I’m the high guy on Cingrani, with Kenley Jansen struggling I think Cingrani would’ve easily been the best relief option on the team. Last year with the Dodgers, Cingrani posted a 2.79 ERA and a 1.86 FIP with a 1.09 WHIP and a 36.4% strikeout rate. In 22.1 innings this year, he posted a 4.84 ERA but a 2.17 FIP which suggested eventually his performance would catch up to his ability. He featured a staggering 39.6% strikeout rate and a 1.03 WHIP as well. If he’s healthy and ready, the Dodgers bullpen just got a huge upgrade.

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First pitch is at 7:10 PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Allan Yamashige
Just a guy living in Thousand Oaks, CA who happens to love the Dodgers and statistics. I'm currently studying at Moorpark Community College and plan on transferring into UC Santa Cruz's Business/Economics/Computer Science program. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about adults doing baseball is alright.