Throughout the playoffs, we’ll take a look at some of the smaller matchups that make baseball so much fun. Here is what we’re looking at today.
There are a lot of ways to go about pitching in the playoffs. The easiest thing to do for a guy on the mound is to do what got him there. It’s what helped propel you to the playoffs, so why change up what you’ve been doing? There is also the teams that overthink things, trying to play that chess match that begins each game to see how, or if, the approach has changed.
Anthony covered how the Phillies are going to have to get around on Jesus Luzardo’s fastball if they want to find much success against him. It’s a rather straightforward way of getting to a pitcher - hit his fastball. Do that and success is likely to follow. The thing about Luzardo is that he’s different than in years past. Michael Baumann at Fangraphs wrote earlier this year how Luzardo had looked different to begin this season, throwing his fastball with a little more giddyup after two starts. That’s something that has mostly held true as the season has moved on.
Thanks to that little extra oomph on his fastball, he’s changed his pitch mix to feature that fastball more this year than he has in the past.
Hitters have had trouble with everything this year, but mostly, we’ve seen how much hitters have struggled to catch up with his heater and do anything with it. We can read all about what the hitters are supposed to do with it, but this shows what they’ve actually done with it.
It’ll be most important to jump on that fastball because, as stated before, he throws it so much. However, the team will want to make sure they’re hitting that pitch to avoid letting Luzardo get to his slider, a pitch hitters just aren’t able to make much contact with this season.
It’s an old adage in baseball: hit the fastball. Do that and success is likely to follow. The hope here is that Luzardo doesn’t deviate from his pitching patterns he’s exhibited this season and try to dupe the Phillies with a broader assortment of breaking and offspeed pitches. It could make a huge difference in the opening game of this series.