Game 53, Mariners at Rockies

marc w · May 30, 2017 at 3:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Tyler Anderson, 4:10pm

I didn’t know much about Tyler Anderson, the Rockies lefty starter in today’s game, so I pulled up his Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs pages to see if anything jumped out. Very good year last year, struggling this year, especially with the long ball. GB% down a bit. Rising fastball at 92, change-up at 83 and hard cutter around 87. Throws the cambio plenty, but still has sizable platoon splits. So far, so normal.
The Fangraphs page had a link to a contact management post by ex-M’s employee Tony Blengino, wherein Anderson’s 2016 season was proclaimed the best of the 2016 pitchers who didn’t qualify for the ERA title – just ahead of some guy named Kershaw. “The highlight is [Anderson’s] ability to suppress contact authority across all BIP types,” wrote Blengino, “This guy is for real and is part of an organizational effort to put strong contact managers in place.” I checked the Statcast leaderboards for 2016, and sure enough, there’s Anderson in 3rd place among all pitchers with at least 100 batted balls, and #1 among starters. So Anderson was great at limiting contact authority in 2016, particularly on ground balls. How much of that carried over into 2017? If you sort this 2017 table for average exit velocity, Anderson is now #1.

Again, that average is driven primarily by his ability (if it is an ability, and not just weird results two years in a row) to smother ground ball contact. The problem is that he’s no longer magically able to dampen air ball contact – hence the 12 HRs he’s given up this year. Dallas Keuchel’s in 4th spot for lowest exit velocity, and like Anderson, it’s driven by a sub-80 MPH average for grounders. Anderson’s average GB comes out *6 MPH slower* than Keuchel’s. Anderson’s not giving up ground balls, he’s giving up swinging bunts. His OPS-against on grounders is under .400. While he’s not the ground ball pitcher Keuchel is, or even that Anderson himself was in 2016, you’d think a GB rate north of 40% paired with that kind of results on GBs would mean he’d have a really low BABIP. You’d be wrong.

His BABIP in 2016 was .318, and it’s .309 this year. His “Expected WOBA” given launch angle and velocity this year is an above-average .320, meaning that while he’s a *bit* unlucky on balls in play, he really is giving up a lot of contact that goes for hits. If everything goes right and Anderson induces a grounder, he’s golden. If batters elevate the ball at all, they all turn into Mike Trout. I looked at the xwOBA for all non-grounders this year, and he’s in the top – er, bottom, I guess – 20 with a mark of .566. His *actual* wOBA on air balls is worse: .686, 2nd worst behind Steven Wright.

These leaderboards of air contact results are a mixture of the already-demoted and some very good hurlers. Keuchel’s up there, as is Marcus Stroman. Felix would actually lead the league if you reduced the thresholds for balls in play. You can kind of get with this profile, but you absolutely have to keep the ball down more. Keuchel can, but Anderson’s failing this year, and it’s killing him. His K/9 and K-BB% are very good – he doesn’t *need* elite contact management to survive. But he may need to rethink how he uses his four-seamer going forward.

The whole package reminds me a bit of another pitcher who debuted last year and rode solid contact management to a solid year: Kenta Maeda. Maeda had one of the best GB exit velocities of 2016, just behind Anderson, and posted a low BABIP of .283. His average fly ball EV was higher, so he gave up a “normal” amount of home runs and XBH, but posting a very good K-BB% and being death to rolling things is a pretty good combination. But this year, his HR rate has spiked, and his ERA’s over 5 despite another extremely low average EV. As we’ve talked about this year, exit velocity isn’t everything – having a low one doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful, and having a high one doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Some pitchers who are great at getting weak ground balls really struggle if batters adjust and put the ball in the air, and now Maeda and Anderson are going to need to make some adjustments of their own.

Anderson’s been better in May (his April was pretty awful), but he’s still giving up the long ball. This isn’t a Coors field thing, either: 9 of his 12 HRs-allowed this year have come on the road. The M’s should look to elevate his four-seamer, which seems like it’d be an easy thing to do given its high “rise” movement. A line-up of righties would help, too, given Anderson’s struggles with them.

1: Segura, SS
2: Valencia, 1B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Heredia, LF
7: Zunino, C
8: Dyson, CF
9: Miranda, P

Hmm. Interesting order shuffle, but this kind of seemed like a Heredia-to-CF-Motter-to-LF sort of a deal. Not a big deal, and it’s understandable to want your best defensive CF in the game with Nelson Cruz trying to patrol Coors’ area code-sized RF.

Tacoma lost a pitcher’s duel in Salt Lake 2-1 last night on a walk-off hit by CJ Cron. Dillon Overton was solid though 5, but the bats couldn’t figure out Alex Klonowski or the Bees Bullpen. Tacoma got its revenge in the early game today, as Andrew Moore hurled 8 shutout IP in his best start in AAA. He gave up 4 hits, walked 1 and K’d 3. DJ Peterson supplied the offense with a 3R-HR. 4-0 was the final score.

Arkansas travels to Midland, TX to play the Rockhounds today. Tyler Herb gets the start opposite Grant Holmes, who’s coming off his best start of the year…against the Travs.

Down 4-3 late, the Modesto Nuts got 2 in the 8th and 1 in the 9th to pull away from San Jose 6-4. Joe DeCarlo and Logan Taylor both homered in the 8th, and Taylor also added a HR in the 4th. Anthony Misiewicz struggled, but Lukas Schiraldi and Joey Strain teamed up for 4 2/3 IP of scoreless relief with 7 K’s. The Nuts are off tonight.

Clinton dominated Wisconsin again, winning 11-3. The Lumberkings got HRs from C Yojhan Quevedo and Luis Liberato. Quevedo got a nice write-up on on his hot streak in May. SP Brandon Miller K’d 8 in 6 solid IP for the win. The L-Kings open a series in Beloit today with Ronald Dominguez on the mound opposite 2016 A’s draftee Dalton Sawyer, who’s been very good this year in the MWL.


9 Responses to “Game 53, Mariners at Rockies”

  1. mrakbaseball on May 30th, 2017 5:01 pm

    Nelson Cruz left the game with tightness in his right calf. He didn’t do anything strenuous to point to when the injury occurred. He scored on Seager’s homer.

  2. djw on May 30th, 2017 5:04 pm

    This looks like BP

  3. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2017 5:58 pm

    Personally, I’m glad it isn’t Motter in RF. Just hope Nelson’s good to go tomorrow–as the DH.

  4. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2017 6:04 pm

    Seriously, why can’t Mariners’ starters seem to consistently get through the order that 3rd time?

    I’m not a huge fan of an 8-man bullpen, but it’s been a necessity.

  5. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2017 6:54 pm

    Segura has to be an All Star this year.

  6. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2017 7:16 pm

    Not that anyone cares, but it really looked like Story missed 2B trying to hurry the DP.

  7. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2017 7:24 pm

    Ballgame, bitches.

    I can say that, because nobody’s here to dispute it.

  8. msfanmike on May 30th, 2017 10:05 pm

    Good job commenting, Steve. You showed both focus and intensity!

  9. groundzero55 on May 31st, 2017 2:57 am

    While I agree Segura is going to be most deserving in the AL, I’m near certain the fans will vote Xander Bogaerts, because Boston and East Coast and stuff.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.