Game 39, Mariners at Yankees

marc w · May 8, 2019 at 2:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yusei Kikuchi vs. Jonathan Loaisiga, 3:35pm

A day after a dispiriting defeat, the M’s try to get back in the win column (and avoid dropping below .500) behind Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi is coming off of his best start of the year, a masterful 10K performance against the (admittedly poor-hitting) Indians. He did by studiously avoiding the advice I’d given him about his position on the mound, and we’ll see if he’s able to build on that start and use his fastball to actually miss bats on a regular basis. That’s going to be huge; if he can be a bit more of a power pitcher and a bit less like his crafty lefty pals, the M’s rotation would look rather different.

The M’s offense has been great, but they’ve struggled slightly against velocity. Not too much, mind you, and their wOBA against fastballs at 95 and above ranks 12th in MLB, per statcast, but it’s just a far cry from how well they hit slower fastballs. That seems obvious and all, but every team is different; the Dodgers are hitting velocity much, much better than “regular” fastballs, for instance. Thus, it’s a bit of a concern to see the Yankees hand the ball to Jonathan Loaisiga, one of their seemingly inexhaustible pitching prospects with solid velocity. The righty’s averaging 96 on his straight four-seamer in his brief career, and pairs it with an interesting change at 89 and a hard curve/slider at 84. The change in particular seems good at generating swings/whiffs/grounders, which is a pretty good little trifecta. He saves it for lefties, though, giving righties the breaking ball instead.

That breaking ball’s easier to elevate than the cambio, and thus his overall GB% is quite low. It may not stay in the mid-30s forever, but for now he’s an interesting young arm who gives up a lot of fly balls in his bandbox home park. The route to victory here for the M’s is thus pretty plain, but as we’ve seen, the M’s don’t just need to score more while Loaisiga’s in the game, they need to be winning after their bullpen has had a go. That’s been…an issue, as it was last night. As Rob Mains writes at BP today, we haven’t seen the spread between relievers and starters this narrow in a long, long time. Reliever have traditionally had not only higher K rates, but lower HR/FB rates as well. As teams began building super bullpens, they took innings away from starters and handed them to more and more relievers, and for a while that worked. Starters benefited from more rest, and batters struggled against a parade of seemingly-fungible same-handed guys throwing 95. But that’s starting to slip, both as more innings get spread across a talent pool that may not be deep enough, and as teams sit by and let the actual Craig Kimbrel sit at home and go with a live arm in their system instead.

1: Gordon, 2B
2: Haniger, CF
3: Vogelbach, DH
4: Encarnacion, 1B
5: Santana, LF
6: Bruce, RF
7: Narvaez, C
8: Healy, 3B
9: Moore, SS
SP: Kikuchi


2 Responses to “Game 39, Mariners at Yankees”

  1. Stevemotivateir on May 8th, 2019 9:54 pm

    Kikuchi was on it. Two of the three hits dropped in softly after weak contact.

    Pine tar or not, he was impressive.

  2. heyoka on May 9th, 2019 5:17 am

    The HealyMonster raised all averages.

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