Who would've thought that the Texas Rangers' pitching MVP to this point in the postseason would be Scott Feldman? The sidearm reliever-turned-starter-turned swingman, who pitched just 32 regular season innings and missed four months while recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee, has a 9/0 K/BB ratio and has yet to surrender a run in 8.1 playoff innings.
Feldman has pounded the strike zone this postseason, placing 60 percent of his pitches over the plate (the league average is 48-49 percent). His control has been great, but his command has been even better. Feldman is putting the ball in spots where hitters typically don't do much damage.
The right-hander has faced 30 hitters so far in the playoffs: 20 righties and 10 lefties. Versus same-handed batters, Feldman is hugging the outside corner:
For most right batters, it's hard to put a good swing on a pitch thrown to that location by a righty pitcher. Check out the league average in-play slugging percentage for righty hitters against righty batters:
Righties slug just .273 on pitches thrown outside by right-handed pitchers, compared to .468 on pitches thrown down the middle and .442 on inside pitches.
Feldman is mostly going low-and-away against lefties, throwing the occasional inside pitch to keep them on their toes:
Lefty hitters fare poorly when a right-handed pitcher can locate low and away. Here's the average in-play slugging percentage for lefty hitters against righty pitchers:
Left-handed hitters slug .309 on low-and-away pitches thrown by righties, compared to a .375 overall slugging percentage against right-handers.
Maybe we should have seen Feldman's postseason excellence coming. After all, how can a hitter possibly hope to combat such a perfectly crafted playoff beard? Eat your heart out, Brian Wilson.