Ohtani versus Wright’s arsenal; Riley still loves lefties
The Braves got a big dose of Shohei Ohtani yesterday, and will have to continue to contend with his hitting through the rest of this series. Some stuff to noodle.
Wright’s arsenal versus Ohtani
Wright has struggled a bit lately, and while this Angels lineup is not particularly imposing one through nine, Ohtani is still there and still very dangerous. While Ohtani doesn’t have many weaknesses at the plate, one particularly fraught aspect of this matchup for Wright is that Ohtani has xwOBAs of .400 or higher on three pitches: four-seamers, sinkers, and curveballs. Those are the pitches that Wright relies on to attack hitters, so… hopefully Wright and the Braves have thought about this before tonight’s game.
One saving grace might be that Ohtani really torches pitches on the inner half given his swing and approach, but you can do a little better against him by keeping the ball away. When Wright does throw his four-seamer to lefties, away (and up) is the name of the game; the sinker is also meant to go armside away while the curve comes in. So maybe that’s an approach? We’ll see what happens.
Riley still loves lefties
Austin Riley has a .423 xwOBA against left-handed pitching at this point in the season, and Patrick Sandoval throws with his left hand. The only player with 100+ PAs against lefties so far and a better xwOBA is Yordan Alvarez, who barely bests Riley’s mark with .426. Dansby Swanson is fourth overall at .417, and Ronald Acuña Jr. would be in the top six-ish with .401 if he had enough PAs to qualify.
Surprisingly, the secret to Riley’s immense lefty-mashing hasn’t been fastballs, as he has a really weak .284 xwOBA in PAs that have ended in a four-seamer from a left-hander. But everything else has been brutalized.
Sandoval throws a kitchen sink. Is he going to emphasize pumping four-seamers to Riley? I’d be pretty scared to throw him something else, but getting predictable with the four-seamer is also a pretty bad idea.
Of course, while Wright mostly has Ohtani to worry about, Sandoval is going to have some greater challenges with the rest of this Braves order beyond Riley.