== Teal Alert on Brandon Maurer. It’s not working, dude. ==
It’s easy to like Brandon Maurer, and it’s very easy to like pitchers who can sling it in there mid-90s.
But we’ve learned over the years that all mid-90s are not the same.
Maurer, as we know, made the leap from AA to the majors in 2013. He had spotty success with this approach:You can see that he balanced the mid-90s fastball with the change and slider, both of which were in the 80s. It wasn’t a bad approach, but he struggled to convert it into outs.
In 2014, although Pitch f/x still tends to classify it as a slider, he switched to a cut fastball. Here is his one effective start against Miami:
See how the cutter still breaks “glove-side” like the slider, but comes in at 90+. Nor does it have the vertical drop that the slider has (though that’s not on the above chart that only shows horizontal movement).
This switch appeared to give Maurer a new level of deception. The fastball and cutter had different horizontal movement, while the fastball and change had similar movement but different velocity.
And, against Miami on April 20, it looked pretty slick.
The hitter would have a hard time “guessing right” because the cutter might come in gloveside, or the change might come in 87. During the split second in which the hitter had to decide, he wouldn’t know which point on the triangle might be coming.
But that Maurer didn’t last long. Here’s the same chart from Saturday:
There are still some pitches at the points of the triangle, but way too many are in the mushy middle. The hitter can “guess” and “guess right” too much of the time. Even when Maurer is getting outs with this approach, he’s not setting up the hitters. They aren’t bamboozled, they’re just getting their timing down.
So when George Springer, who’d already creamed one of Maurer’s fastballs in the 1st, saw Maurer for the third time, and got low-90s fastballs without much movement, well … as Lynyrd Skynyrd said “Baby, I can guess the rest” (video link).
So: Official Teal Alert. Would Maurer be better off going back to the slider? Maybe — if he’s not getting enough separation with the cutter. I don’t really know. But we know that this approach isn’t working.
Robinson Cano kept his hot streak going, but otherwise the offense didn’t generate much help. Two of the four runs were boosted by an untimely Astro error.
- Hyper-detailed baseball-reference.com boxscore here.
The M’s try to get back over .500 with Hisashi Iwakuma going for his fifth straight start of 8.0 IP or more. That would be nice to see.
And … help is on the way.
- The big, big, big news, of course, was the return of James Paxton. He started the first half of Tacoma’s double header against El Paso, and has this line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
- Also rehabbing: Logan Morrison, who went 1-for-3.
- In the nightcap, no rehabbers, but Jabari Blash had a double and a single, which might help him heat up again.
- AA Jackson lost a slugfest to Jacksonville, in which backup catcher Manny Pina was the hitting star with a double and a homer. That’s nice, but it only brought his SLG up to .333 for the year. Patrick Kivlehan had three singles.
- Deeeeej! Three homers in two nights for D.J. Peterson, and eight on the year now. He’s at .284/.330/491, but still striking out a lot.
- Joining Deej in the High Desert explosion were Tyler Marlette (6th homer), Gabriel Guerrero (6th homer) and Jordy Lara (8th homer).
- Low-A Clinton won a nail biter with center fielder Ian Miller contributing two hits and two steals. Emilio Pagan nailed down his 8th save.