We are roughly a month into the season - this is a good time to start evaluating your team’s strengths and weaknesses. No overreaction is needed, but we now have a decent enough sample size to reflect. There have been lots of questions as to whether we have entered a dead ball era. Who knows. What I do know is these baseballs are atrocious with no consistency. Hey Rob? Let’s figure this out. As we enter week 4, here is a pitchers edition of Who’s Hot & Who’s Not.
Patrick Sandoval, LAA
Patrick has gone about his duties on the bump quietly. Domination of major league hitters has forced people to finally take notice. Sandoval had thrown up 15 scoreless innings in his first three starts this campaign. What’s possibly even more impressive you ask? In that span, 0 baseballs touched the barrels of his counterparts.
The graphic below is one thing to keep your eye on. At initial glance it’s a bit concerning. Typically, you want to see guys get stronger as the game goes along. Despite this, Sandy finished that start pitching 7 innings, no runs, while fanning 9 Guardians. I am definitely not jumping to any conclusions yet. It’s certainly possible, in my mind, that this is just another reason why Sandoval will be successful in this league for a long time. He flat out knows how to pitch.
(Photo cred: @DeGenZGZ)
Logan Gilbert, SEA
Could we possibly be looking at, what was, a dark horse AL Cy Young candidate? Too early to say, but absolutely we could. Logan is off to a scorching start on the hill. In 28 innings across 5 games, Gilbert has 27 K’s, an ERA of 0.64 and a WHIP of 0.92. Up until the 6th inning of his start on Sunday, the 14th overall pick in 2018 had not let an earned run cross the plate since the first inning of his very first start. This tall lanky arm is the real deal. I, for one, share a kid in a candy store level of excitement with Mariners fans. This could turn into an elite rotation, and Gilly would play a huge role in that.
Alek Manoah, TOR
Rob Friedman of Pitch Ninja posted an overlay video of Alek’s sinker/slider. His sinker, sitting at 92MPH with the slider at 79MPH. The sinker has 16 inches of run and the slider has 19 inches of break. My point? This man is absolutely disgusting. Manoah holds a 1.44 ERA through 4 starts. In his 25 innings pitched, he has the same amount of strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.880. The 24 year old from Homestead, FL is electric. Tad bit of control issue in his first 12 batters, walking 6 guys. Reigned back in his last start by not walking a single Astro. This man has ace stuff. The Blue Jays are going to be a problem in the AL East for a long time as their young core is very strong and this might just be the start.
Tyler Mahle, CIN
Allow this man to pitch in every (or close to) other ballpark BUT the one he calls home. Stay the hell away from Great American Ballpark. Mahle isn’t someone I own tons of shares of (mostly for that reason), but I wish I did - especially in a dynasty. I enjoy Mahle’s stuff quite a bit and think he can ramp up his 2022 numbers from the slow start we’ve seen. In the 5 starts he’s made this year across 22 innings he has given up 16 ER, 26 hits and carries an ERA of 6.45. The good news - Mahle isn’t being hit hard and has yet to give up a long ball. The free passes need to get in check if he wants to bounce back.
Troubling duo on the Northside?
Kyle Hendricks, CHC
The 32 year old Northside Professor has now been called to the dean's office. He stumbled into the confines of Miller Park to face a deep Brew Crew lineup. This goes without saying… It did not go well. Hendricks gave up 6 runs on 7 hits in 4 ⅓ innings. To make matters even worse, 6 of those 7 hits went for extra base hits, including three bombs. Locating that fastball down and away seemed to have been a huge struggle. The veteran has no rhythm. He was quoted after the game as saying just that. "Consistency is what you're striving for," Hendricks said. "And that starts with pitch to pitch for me. And yeah, I'm just not having that right now. It's kind of been one game to the next." In 5 starts across 24 innings pitched Kyle has given up 15 runs carrying an ERA of 5.47.
Marcus Stroman, CHC
“Take the high (and safe) floor with the veteran right hander” they say… yeah that’s sure worked well this far. The Stro Show holds a hideous 6.98 ERA over his first 19 innings in 2022. Is this something to be worried about with Marcus? Nah. Out of the first 4 starts (working with a small sample size here) only two have been poor in which he allowed 12 earned runs in 8 innings. In his start on Sunday, he took the bump and tossed 7 scoreless innings to earn his first left side of the column entry. Marcus only gave up two hits and fanned 5 Brewers hitters. Have a day birthday boy! “And many more!!” Despite the rough start, grab a seat and watch his numbers going forward start to return some value.
Born, raised and living my entire life in Minneapolis, I’m saddened to say the Twins have always been my team. Whether it be on my couch or in the car watching on my phone. I typically don’t miss games. This year, Twins games are moving along at a rapid pace. You might often hear me say “I’m an old school guy” or “I loved the way the game was back then.” Running, bunting, wanting to put the ball in play, hit & runs, etc… The fact is, the game isn’t like that anymore. It’s evolving and I’m okay with that! Trying to draw in younger fans, there is a fear around baseball that games are too long for the average fan. I’m an old school guy…remember? I loved watching 17 inning games. The more baseball, the better. I’ve always just thought that's the way the sport was. If you don’t enjoy it, there is nothing wrong with that! There’s an array of other sports out there that might draw your interest. Nonetheless, technology such as the pitch clock and implementation of a ghost runner on second in extra innings. Is all this really working towards that goal?
In 2021, 37% of Minnesota’s games were over in less than 3 hours. In 2022, that number is at 45%. It needs to be acknowledged this is an extremely small sample size and plenty of other factors to consider when looking at if these changes are functioning. Twins pitchers do work quickly and seemingly the pitch calling technology is moving things along too. I am still settling into a chess match of new rules and functions within America’s Pastime but I am hopeful!