Game 42, Mariners at Twins
Roenis Elias vs. Samuel Deduno, 4:10pm
Sooooo, the M’s struggled against another sinkerballer last night, as Kyle Gibson limited the M’s to a run over 7 innings. It’s always tough to apportion blame and credit on the pitching and defense side of the ball, and it’s doubly so when we’re trying to figure out if the M’s have a serious problem with ground ball pitchers or if they had a serious problem with Kyle Gibson. Today’s game offers a test. Same park, same offense, lots of sinking fastballs, but a different guy throwing them. Samuel Deduno is essentially the Twins swingman, having made 7 relief appearances and just 2 starts. Obviously, the M’s found the Rays swingman to their liking, but Deduno’s very different, and very strange.
Deduno gets a ton of grounders despite not actually throwing a sinker. He doesn’t need to: the vertical movement on his regular old fastball is unlike anyone else’s. Sort pitchers from the pitch fx era by vertical movement on a four seam fastball and Deduno’s comes in the lowest, and it’s not even close.* Justin Masterson’s swerving, low-3/4 four seam is in 2nd place, but at nearly 2″ more movement. It’s not exactly a blazing fast heater, and unlike Masterson’s, it has almost no horizontal movement. It’s not deceptive, it’s just so far outside of how a normal pitch behaves that hitters tend to swing over it. It’s the equal and opposite issue that hitters have with Chris Young’s extreme *rising* FB – the fact that they know it’s coming and that it’s coming in at a pleasing velocity doesn’t always enable them to actually hit it.
He’s primarily a FB and curveball pitcher, but he’s also got a change-up that he throws to lefties. Earlier in his career, he struggled against *righties* which is pretty odd, but this year, his splits are much more normal. His curve’s suddenly more effective against righties, but if you look at his career splits, he looks like a left-hander – his K:BB ratio is awful against righties, but he’s managed to strike out an un-Twins-like number of lefties. No HR issues to lefties, but an elevated HR rate to righties. Again, that’s disappeared this year, but I’m not sure if he made a conscious change to his approach or if this is luck/maturity/regression cocktail.
Just like Gibson, Deduno had some HR problems in his first call-up in 2011, and like Gibson, they’ve largely disappeared. He’s a Twins pitcher, so he’s not an overpowering guy, and teams that match up well with him – like Detroit, who, to be fair, match up well with most teams – have hit him hard. But the M’s have been completely befuddled by Deduno; he’s been excellent against them in 2012 and 2013. His last start against them came last July, and he shut them out on just 3 hits over 7 innings. On paper, this is…this is something of a challenge.
1: Jones, CF
2: Saunders, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
Good day in the M’s minor leagues, as Victor Sanchez takes the hill for AA Jackson. Jordan Pries starts for Tacoma, while Jochi Ogando starts for High Desert.
* Who ranks at the top of the list? The guy with the most vertical movement on a fastball? Chris Young, who sadly wasn’t fooling many Twins hitters last night.