Maybe it wasn’t a shutout, but it should get the recognition of one.
Tim Hudson’s 7 inning, one run masterpiece, Joe Panik’s walk, Buster Posey’s single, Pablo Sandoval’s game-tying double, Brandon Belt’s go-ahead homer. Those are the likely MVPs for the NLDS 18 inning game two Saturday, but Yusmeiro Petit was the real MVP. But we have to show this. Right? Right.
In 2005, Baseball America ranked Petit as the Mets’ number two prospect. Ten years, later he is finally living up to those expectations.
After tying it up in the ninth inning, Sergio Romo came on in the bottom half to shut the door on the Nationals. Jeremy Affeldt came in for the tenth and shutdown the bottom of the order and played a part in Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Williams‘ ejections. Santiago Casilla then came in for the eleventh and got out of it in ten pitches. In the twelfth, Petit came in and stayed in for 6 innings of one hit, shutout ball. He struck out 7 and only let 4 base runners on.
This video from MLB.com gives you an idea of Petit’s night:
In the 6 innings pitched, Petit threw fastballs, cutters, curveballs, and change ups. Here’s the breakdown:
According to FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris, Petit had one of the deadliest curveballs this year:
"Petit had one of the whiffiest curves in baseball last year, so to find him in the top three again this year is not that surprising. His change-up (17% swSTR) and cutter (13% swSTR) are also standout offerings. The problem is that his four-seam is terrible. It gets whiffs less than six percent of the time, turns into homers, and doesn’t get ground balls. Voila Petit’s homer problem most of his career. But not in San Francisco! Call him more of a matchup play than Elias, but useful in all leagues. And his batting average on balls in play should normalize — there’s no correlation between fastball velocity and BABIP."
Even though his curveball is remarkable, he only threw it 21% of the time. Was it because Posey kept calling fastballs and Petit never shook him off? Do Posey and Petit know the Nationals have trouble with the curve? They must not, because according to FanGraphs, again, the Nationals were the third worst at hitting the curveball in 2014.
Per Brooks Baseball, this is where Petit was throwing it:
Here’s an inside/outside strike zone from Brooks Baseball which is a plot that can be used for left and right handed strike zones. As you can see he threw A LOT of outside pitches. He very rarely went inside.
Finally, here’s a Brooks Baseball plot showing Petit’s movement and speed. Notice he was throwing a plethora of two-seams and cutters. The high movement, low speed pitches were curveballs.
Overall, Petit lived on the outside corner of the plate all night and stayed with his fastball. The cold night could have helped his case, but the Nationals are not great at hitting the curveball. He never topped 91 MPH, but still struck out seven batters. In the regular season, Petit had the third best FIP from a reliever in the National League in 45 innings pitched. He had the the best K/9 and K/BB ratio out of any Giants pitcher. Including the postseason, Petit has pitched 123 innings and has a 3.51 ERA.
Ryan Vogelsong will likely go Game 4, if needed, now but Petit has shown he can be a force out of the bullpen. Don’t be surprised if he’s up and going in the bullpen Tuesday if Vogelsong has any trouble early or late.