Game 109, Tigers at Mariners

marc w · July 28, 2019 at 1:02 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Matt Wisler/Tommy Milone vs. Matt Boyd, 1:10pm

The Tigers are 1-9 in their last 10 games, which is bad, but not *too* unusual. If the schedule and injuries align, you can have a bad couple of weeks. But the Tigers are not an ordinary ball club. They’ve been on a bender that’s continued essentially unabated since early-mid April. In their last 30 games, they are 4-26. The M’s have *felt* like that at times, but this series has been a good reminder of just how bad you have to be to grab the #1 overall draft position in 2019. The Orioles trotted out one of the worst pitching staffs I’ve ever seen, and they’ve easily left the Tigers in the dust.

The one bright spot the Tigers have had this year is Mercer Island native and Oregon State product Matthew Boyd, who’s put together a remarkable K:BB ratio of 168:26, good for a K% over 32% with a walk rate of just 5%. An extreme fly-baller, he’s been bit by HRs, but that’s generally OK given the ball. He’s become a dominating pitcher despite a fastball that averages 92-93. His slider is his outpitch, and batters have generally struggled against it even when they make contact, but he’s still notched slightly more Ks on the year with a fastball that looks fairly ordinary by movement and velocity.

Boyd’s interesting, as he hasn’t generally been a super high-K pitcher before 2019, but he’s worked a lot at Driveline Baseball in Kent both to improve his velocity and presumably on some pitch design work. When he came up, he had a higher release point, a much harder slider (84-87mph) and his primary breaking ball was a curve at 75. The curve is now a show-me pitch he doesn’t really feature, and he’s also backed way off of his change-up usage, too, preferring to throw righties his slider instead. By pitch *movement* there’s nothing much to say: his fastball has less rise now, thanks to the lowered release point, and his slider has more sink, but that would seem to be related to its much lower velocity. But obviously pitch design isn’t about a pitch fx leaderboard; it’s more about altering a pitch’s shape to fit a specific, individual strategy – either to play off of other pitches, or to attack certain batters. Thus far, it’s been a very successful transition: his sizable platoon splits have been trimmed down, and that’s pushed his overall effectiveness up. He’s at 3.3 fWAR and 3.2 WARP on the year – two very different metrics arriving at the same conclusion. If he could figure out a way to limit HRs, he’d easily be one of the top starters in the AL.

The M’s acquired OF Keon Broxton who’d been DFA’d by Baltimore, who picked him up after the Brewers DFA’d him earlier. Broxton was an interesting if polarizing young player with Milwaukee, whose patience and power overcame a sky-high whiff rate. In 2016, he was worth almost 2 WAR despite playing part time and amassing 244 PAs. It’s a somewhat familiar skillset in the modern game, but it was odd to see in a CF. He hit 20 HRs in mostly full-time duty the next year, but his overall line sunk, as his walk rate dropped, pulling his OBP under .300. That off-season, the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain, and that was essentially that for Broxton. He was awful in part-time duty last year, and has cratered this year, with a K% over 40% and a low ISO, which is why he’s been waived by one of the worst teams in the league. This is an interesting test of the M’s new hitting coaching staff. If you heard the Mariner Magazine today, you may have caught an interview with new hitting strategy coach who talked about the organizational emphasis on swinging at the right pitches. Broxton does…not have a history of doing that, but he remains an interesting puzzle. I’d love to think the M’s could solve it, but it’s also likely that Broxton’s playing his way out of the league pretty quickly.

1: Smith, CF
2: Crawford, SS
3: Santana, DH
4: Beckham, LF
5: Murphy, C
6: Nola, 2B
7: Seager, 3B
8: Court, 1B
9: Negron, RF
SP: Wisler, then Milone

Great to see long-time minor league vet Ryan Court get his first hit and RBIs in yesterday’s win. He’s played in independent ball and had minor league deals with several teams before making his MLB debut this week at age 31. He’s been a decent enough hitter, but lacked the power you’d generally demand from a 1B. He’s tapped into a lot more of that this year in the M’s system, which is a pretty good sign for the player development system. He’s obviously just filling in, but it’s always cool to see guys like this – and Tim Lopes, who was concussed a game or two into his MLB tenure.


2 Responses to “Game 109, Tigers at Mariners”

  1. drw on July 28th, 2019 4:38 pm

    Five in a row. We are clearly not the worst team in the league. Just the division!

  2. MKT on July 29th, 2019 6:21 am

    Reading about Ryan Court’s long journey to the majors made me think about other aged rookies. Jim Morris of course is the most famous recent one, but this article tries to tell the story of all rookies since 1916 who were at least 36 years old. A Seattle Pilot is among them — Billy Williams (not the famous Hall of Famer).

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