Here's What a Postseason Start Looks Like in 2020
Image courtesy of © David Richard-USA TODAY SportsThe information below is from all rounds of the 2020 postseason leading up to, but not including the World Series so far. That’s 47 games, or 94 total starts we’re looking at. As with any starting pitching stats in 2020, the fly in the ointment is the opener. Just something to keep in mind as we take a look at some postseason starter stats.
High: 110 Jack Flaherty, STL
Something odd to note is teams that had a starting pitcher eclipse 100 pitches had a losing record over these rounds, going 7-8. If we look at all games in which a starter threw 90 or more pitches, those teams went 17-15.
Kenta Maeda’s Game 1 start in the Wild Card round was one of those games where a starting pitcher threw 90 pitches and his team lost. José Berríos logged 75 pitches for the Twins in Game 2.
The most surprising thing to me is a starting pitcher threw 90 or more pitches at just a 34 percent clip in these rounds. So it’s not that 90 is the new 100, it’s more like 80. Here’s a chart that shows the number of starts made by pitches thrown.
High: 24 Clayton Kershaw, LAD
It’s not like starting pitchers are throwing fewer pitches because they’re efficient. The mode number of outs recorded over these rounds — the result that appeared most often — was 15, or five innings. That just happened to be exactly how long both Maeda and Berríos pitched in their postseason starts.
Bullpens are doing a lot of heavy lifting, this is becoming especially true in the postseason. The chart below shows the number of starts by outs recorded in these rounds.
High: 31 Max Fried, ATL
At this point, you shouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of decisions regarding traditional starters are related to the “third time through the order penalty.” The vast majority of starting pitchers were given enough leash to start that third trip around, but very few finish it.
Is this “penalty” the baseball equivalent to the boogeyman? Hitters actually had a lower OPS in their third plate appearance against a starting pitcher this year than the second time seeing them (a .765 OPS the second time, .754 the third).
Then again, maybe that’s just the result of a weird season. Or maybe managers being more cognisant of the dangers of allowing pitchers to go through a lineup a third time is exactly why that number has gone down. After all, in 2019 hitters had a .777 OPS the second time they faced a starter and an .807 mark the third.
The mode of this data set was 19 batters faced. This was the exact number of batters Berríos faced in his outing versus Houston, while Maeda faced 20 men. Anyway, here’s a chart with the number of starts broken up by batters faced.
One last item, this one breaks things up by the winning and losing team. This is a bit of an unsophisticated way to look at things, seeing as a team could pitch like trash and still win a game if their bats carry them, but there was a buy three nerdy baseball graphics get one free sale. So here you go:
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