The Mariners Jekyll and Hyde Pitching Staff

By Blaidd Drwg

Once you get past Felix and Iwakuma, the Mariners starting rotation has been a lovely collection Jekyll & Hyde type pitchers, making them more than frustrating to watch. Don’t believe me, here is what you have to look forward to (stats as of Monday May 13th).

Joe Saunders – pitches like Steve Carlton at home and Steve Blass on the road. Saunders may have the ugliest platoon splits I have ever seen:

W-L GS ERA IP BB SO WHIP ERA BAA
Home 3-0 4 0.93 28.2 7 15 0.82 0.94 .180
Road 0-4 4 12.54 18.2 11 5 2.52 12.54 .424

Now I know it is early in the season and sample size issues still abound here, but if you watch this guy pitch, he looks like 2 completely different pitchers depending on the venue. Now I realize that both the home and road stats will regress to the mean, but it almost feels like Wedge needs to pitch someone else when they are on the road. That is how bad Saunders has looked in those 4 starts. Historically, Saunders was “not bad” at Safeco, which is why I am assuming they signed him, but I am not sure what is going wrong when his is on the road.

Brandon Maurer – pitches like Ricky Vaughn against right handed batters and Vaughn Eshelman against lefties. The guys over at USS Mariner had a good article about this recently. Here is the ugly truth:

AB/H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
Vs RHB 70/17 4 0 2 3 17 .243 .303 .688
Vs LHB 67/24 7 1 5 7 5 .358 .419 1.135

It is not unusual to see a platoon split with a significant amount of variance for a pitcher against the opposite hand hitter, but this is pretty extreme. The issue, according to USSM is this:

Maurer has four pitches, but he’s primarily a fastball/slider guy. He throws his slider a lot, in fact. Among qualified starters, PITCHF/x only has three pitchers throwing more pitches classified as sliders than Brandon Maurer this year. As you probably know, the slider has the biggest platoon split of any pitch in baseball. There’s a reason every situational reliever in baseball throws a million sliders. It’s why the Mariners have a bullpen full of match-up guys who just come in and throw slider after slider.

The slider is not a good pitch to opposite handed hitters, but it’s great against same-handed hitters. Pitchers who throw a lot of sliders tend to have huge platoon splits. Brandon Maurer has huge platoon splits.

It is obvious Maurer has talent but he needs to learn how to get left handed hitters out at a somewhat better rate if he wants to be successful. The majors are not the place for that. He looks tentative against lefties when he pitches and I really think the Mariners need to do something about that before his confidence is completely shot and teams just stack their lineup with lefties when they face him.

Aaron Harang – well, now that I think about it, he has just plain sucked. If you want a positive spin on this, his ERA in April was 11.37 and in May it is 3.00. That should count for something.

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