Dodgers Will Show No Mercy to Padres on Sunday

Saturday, September 22, 2018 4:44 PM UTC

Saturday, Sep. 22, 2018 4:44 PM UTC

The Dodgers close a three-game home series with the Padres on Sunday at 4:10 ET. The match-up works in favor of the playoff-hopeful Dodgers, who can’t afford to take this game lightly.

San Diego at Los Angeles DodgersSunday, 4:10 p.m. ETFree MLB Pick: Dodgers RLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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LA’s Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-3, 2.18 ERA) is consistently solid at home. In six of his seven home starts, he’s allowed two runs or fewer while enduring six innings in all but two home starts. His home FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) is 2.19, indicating that his individual performance at home is as strong as his surface numbers indicate. Ryu is yielding +2.1 units at home.

A key to Ryu’s pitching arsenal is variety. He relies on four different pitches with between 17 and 31 percent frequency. He remains unpredictable. For example, he utilizes three pitches with at least twenty percent frequency as a first pitch to right-handed batters. Another key is deception. For example, his cutter and fastball share almost identical horizontal and vertical release points, which masks which pitch is leaving his hand, thereby slowing the batter’s reaction time. So even though Ryu doesn’t throw fast, he doesn’t need to, in order to trump the reaction skills of the batter, who struggles to adjust his swing to pitches that differ starkly in vertical and horizontal movement.

Three of Ryu’s primary pitches produce strong numbers. His curve, fastball, and change-up each yield an opposing BA under .230. His curveball has very unusual movement—strong arm-side and negative vertical movement. Its location is also unpredictable. He concentrates it with 35 percent frequency in the bottom row of the strike zone but can also elevate it—which is rare for a curveball— and places it often on the upper peripheries. His change-up shows strong glove-side movement and has some dip to it. He places it with 56 percent frequency in the four lowest-right spots in the zone. Ryu’s fastball shows respectable glove-side movement, he likes to elevate it, and he commands it consistently for a strike.

Ryu is 2-0 in two starts against San Diego. He conceded three runs in 11.2 innings. The Padres match up poorly with him. Based on the metric xSLG-SLG, which compares what a team’s slugging rate is with what it should be based on quality of contact, the Padres are the second-most overachieving team against his favorite pitches. In September, they have been showing strong statistical regression in slugging against those pitches—they rank 28th in the category, slugging .257 against them.

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San Diego’s Joey Lucchesi (8-8, 3.74 ERA) has conceded three runs in both of his last starts, despite enduring only five innings in each. Familiarity is proving to be an important tool against Lucchesi. The Padres are 2-11 in his starts against division opponents, yielding -8.9 units.

The young southpaw Lucchesi hasn’t developed nearly the variety in his arsenal that Ryu has. He relies on a fastball-change-up combo. He leans on his fastball with 64 percent frequency and most in all scenarios. He’s rather predicable. For example, he throws his fastball with over 70 percent frequency as his first pitch. He only features his change-up with two strikes. Overall, he throws it with 32 percent frequency. Lucchesi’s velocity is paltry. But he doesn’t utilize deception to compensate for it, which Ryu does. His two main pitches have vastly different vertical and horizontal release points, meaning that batters are quicker to tell which pitch is leaving his hand and quicker to react.

The Dodgers have enjoyed success against Lucchesi, who is 0-2 in two starts against them. They achieved five earned runs in nine innings against Lucchesi. Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger are combined 3-for-4 with a double against him. Based on the metric xSLG-SLG, the Dodgers are the most underachieving team against his two pitches and have been enjoying statistical progression, easily ranking first in slugging (.605) against both pitches in September. For these reasons, the Doyers RL looks appealing on the MLB oddsboard and deserves an MLB Pick.

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