The Brewers’ -15 run differential suggests a struggling club, but they head into New York over .500 thanks to some key early performances. The team has faced injuries to a few important members of the team, including star closer Corey Knebel, but other players have stepped up to help fill those voids. Some of those players are highlighted below in this edition of the stat preview.
Barnes’ slider: Jacob Barnes’ slider has been the second fastest this season at 91 mph (among pitchers with 50 or more sliders), trailing only Noah Syndergaard (93.3 mph). The pitch has generated a 71% ground ball rate (3rd highest) and a 38.5% whiff per swing rate, so look out for Barnes’ effective slider out of the bullpen this weekend.
Thames’ hot start: Eric Thames has been on a tear to start the season, much like he was at the start of his return to MLB last year. He already has five home runs through 44 plate appearances, and is running the fourth highest ISO (.447) among hitters with 30 or more plate appearances. The Mets’ early leader in ISO is Asdrubal Cabrera (.267); Conforto has just 23 plate appearances but a .278 ISO.
Davies’ sinker: On a more discouraging note, Zach Davies’ sinker has not been effective in the early going. He has generated the lowest swing rate on the pitch (23.4%), as well as the lowest ground ball percentage (22%). The line drive rate is 44%, which is the third highest on sinkers, but the results have not been pretty, as hitters have a .940 OPS on the pitch.
The Good: Josh Hader has been used often out of the Brewer’s bullpen, especially in Knebel’s absence, and he has been dominant with a 61% strikeout rate.
The Bad: Re-addition Lorenzo Cain has struggled in the field according to Fielding Runs Above Average, with a -1.4 FRAA thus far.
The Ugly: Jhoulys Chacin has just a 2.44% whiff per swing rate on his sinker through his first three starts.
Mets’ Early Check-In
Steven Matz went offspeed heavy in his start against the Nationals, throwing 53.8% changeups and curveballs. This was up significantly from his 29.2% rate in his first start, so look to see if his success in the second start prompts more off-speed usage in the future.
Photo credit: Scott Kane – USA Today Sports