Is that some life we saw yesterday in this Mets team that seemed dead for much of the last month? Two games is not really enough to get excited about, but it was nice to see some fight in the bats. Now New York continues its trip out west with a four-game set in Colorado. The Rockies are coming off a rough ninth-inning collapse at Texas and a 4-12 stretch over the last two-and-a-half weeks. The team’s offense has been pretty poor by Coors Field standards, but the pitching has been decent. Two key starters are highlighted below in this edition of the stats preview.
Freeland’s Concerning Trend: Kyle Freeland has been an effective part of the Rockies’ rotation, posting 1.31 WARP and an ERA, FIP and DRA all between 3.5 and 3.9. His WARP puts him 45th among pitchers, solid mid-rotation starter territory. What is concerning about Freeland’s season, though, is his velocity, which has been in almost constant decline since the start of his major league career (it averaged over 94 mph when he entered the league, but has been 91.6 this month). In June, his fastball has averaged below 92 mph for the first time in any month in his career. That dip in velocity is troubling for an important piece for the Rockies, but is encouraging for Mets bats like Todd Frazier, who has slugged .692 on fastballs below 92 mph, but just .298 on fastballs above 92 mph (the largest difference on the Mets’ roster). Freeland is lined up to start the series finale on Thursday.
Marquez’ Mets Matchups: German Marquez has significantly increased his slider usage this year, and for good reason. PITCHf/x credits him with six offerings, but none has seen its whiff rate increase like the slider. The pitch got swings and misses 9.3% of the time last year, but is getting them at a 14.7% rate in 2018. The slider is also generating more ground balls, going from a 33.3% to 66.7% rate on balls in play. The usage has increased from just 2.6% in 2017 to 13.3% this season, which has played a large role in making Marquez one of the Rockies’ top pitchers by WARP. Asdrubal Cabrera has found success against right handers’ sliders this year, hitting .364 on the pitch, but Devin Mesoraco, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce are all hitting below .150 on sliders. Look to see what role Marquez’ slider plays in those matchups on Tuesday.
Cargo’s Zone: Carlos Gonzalez has not been a particularly dangerous hitter for a while now (his TAv has not topped .284 since 2013), but pitchers are throwing outside the zone to him at a career-high rate. In fact, among batters with at least 500 pitches seen this year, Gonzalez has seen the lowest percentage of pitches in the zone. He swings at a high rate of those would be balls (38.5%), which is why his walk rate remains a little below league average. The Mets starters for this series either have pretty average (Jacob deGrom and Jason Vargas) or above average (Steven Matz and Seth Lugo) rates of pitches in the zone, but look to see if they go out of the zone more often against Gonzalez.
The Good: Nolan Arenado’s TAv of .320 would be a career best.
The Bad: 25% of fly balls allowed by Bryan Shaw have been home runs.
The Ugly: Charlie Blackmon’s -11.9 FRAA are the worst in the MLB.
The Mets’ back to back wins against the Diamondbacks were their first such games since May 20 and 21. The May 20 game finished off a sweep of Arizona and, combined with this most recent series, gives them a 5-2 season series win against the Dbacks. Since the beginning of May, though, Arizona is the only team against which the Mets have a winning record.
Photo credit: Aaron Doster – USA Today Sports