This week’s docket has a number of marquee matchups, however we respect your intelligence sufficient to not clarify why Shane Bieber vs. Lucas Giolito or Yu Darvish vs. Dustin May is value watching. As a substitute, flip your consideration to 3 video games the place the visiting pitcher will return to their previous stomping grounds, and don’t gloss over Tuesday night time’s sport in Atlanta both.
Wednesday, April 14, 6:35 PM ET: Joe Musgrove vs. Tyler Anderson
Joe Musgrove is baseball’s hottest pitcher in the meanwhile, and after turning into the primary Padres pitcher to throw no-hitter, he’ll attempt to change into the newest ex-Pirates pitcher to make Pittsburgh look foolish for having traded him. Musgrove, who Pittsburgh traded to San Diego in January, is trying to be part of Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow as the newest pitcher to take one other leap ahead ditching his black and gold threads, and his early-season exhibiting has been superlative. Nonetheless solely 28, Musgrove was deemed unlikely to assist the following good Pirates crew (he’s a free agent after the 2022 season), and was traded for prospects. Over his three-year keep in Pittsburgh, throughout which the crew had the majors’ seventh-lowest successful share, Musgrove was the Pirates’ best pitcher by nearly two wins. Now, he’s a part of a San Diego crew constructed to win a championship, which might already be the second of Musgrove’s underrated profession.
Unsurprisingly, when he arrived in Pittsburgh from Houston, Musgrove’s cutter and sinker utilization shot approach up. Such was the best way of Ray Searage, the since-fired pitching coach who preached cutters, sinkers, and two-seamers as gospel. That first yr in Pittsburgh introduced the very best cutter and sinker utilization of Musgrove’s profession at 15.4% and 17.8%, respectively. Final yr, the primary with out Searage, these numbers sunk to 11.9% and 6.2%.
The intrigue surrounding Musgrove now lies in his strategy as a 3rd organizational philosophy floods his mind. With the Astros, four-seam fastballs reigned supreme and sinkers have been handled like final week’s rubbish, which explains Cole’s transformation when going from Pittsburgh to Houston. In his first begin for the Padres, Musgrove twisted 19 cutters on his technique to eight strikeouts, three hits, and no walks in six scoreless innings.
With that pitch sitting within the high-80s towards the Diamondbacks, and never ensuing a single hit, Musgrove could have the recipe for a revenge sport stuffed with outs, particularly if the Buccos hold operating a crew batting common hovering within the low .230s. Musgrove presently sports activities a 0.00 ERA and a 0.95 FIP. Seems no-hitters are fairly the early-season enhance to a pitcher’s line.
He may not be coming off a no-hitter, however Tyler Anderson is trying to construct off a profitable maiden voyage as a Pirate. He punched out seven hitters by means of 5 innings and elicited 21 swinging strikes, and now the misleading southpaw will get one other shot at a star-studded Nationwide League lineup. Search for Anderson to lean closely on his changeup towards San Diego, each due to the Padres’ reliance on right-handed hitters, but additionally as a result of the pitch is without doubt one of the better of its form.
Final yr Anderson ranked 12th among NL starters in weighted changeup runs whereas throwing the pitch a career-high 42.3% of the time. All that did towards righties was produce a .215 batting common and .266 wOBA with a 31.5% whiff share. In different phrases, Anderson has the proper arsenal to assault right-handed swingers like Manny Machado, Wil Myers, Tommy Pham, and Ha-Seong Kim.
Wednesday, April 14, 7:10 PM ET: Zack Wheeler vs. Joey Lucchesi
In the future after Musgrove takes the PNC Park mound as a customer, Zack Wheeler will do the identical at Citi Discipline, sporting a Phillies uniform within the ballpark he known as house for 5 years. Regardless of in all probability understanding the place they hold all the nice snacks, Wheeler has simply been okay on the Mets’ stadium. His 61 begins in Queens led to a 4.16 ERA (3.80 FIP) with precisely 9.0 Ok/9. Final season was clearly the primary time Wheeler received to face the Mets, and he did a terrific job of stunting on his ex.
In three begins, the previous Queens darling recorded 13 strikeouts to only one stroll, lasting not less than six innings in every efficiency. Count on a whole lot of warmth from Wheeler on this one, each due to his renewed curiosity within the 4 seamer since becoming a member of the Phillies, and since he loaded up the fastball over 50% of the time in every of his three squabbles with the Mets final yr.
Conversely, Mets starter Joey Lucchesi, who hasn’t been formally introduced because the starter, however seems likely to get his first rotation turn Wednesday, hasn’t thrown a single four-seam fastball in his complete main league profession, in keeping with Baseball Savant. As a substitute, he depends on a sinker as his major pitch, complementing that low-90s libation with a yawning curveball that’s 13 mph slower. Lucchesi takes “don’t throw something straight” to its last kind, and with a Rube Goldberg-esque supply, it might probably make for a really uncomfortable at-bat.
The Phillies have already gotten an early take a look at Lucchesi, however this can be his first trip in blue and orange as a beginning pitcher. His Mets debut on April 7 got here in aid, and Lucchesi alternated between the sinker and curveball solely, leaving out the cutter he’s toyed with previously. The fashionable starter with simply two pitches is more and more uncommon, so we’ll see if Lucchesi makes use of the identical sport plan on Wednesday, or if the twin repertoire was simply reserved for his aid outings.
As a starter for the 2019 Padres, when that cutter was nonetheless concerned 13.6% of the time, Lucchesi allowed the lowest line-drive rate of anyone in the league. Each of his big-league seasons with not less than 130 innings have additionally include a groundball price above 44% – with a Ok% at all times a couple of doorways down from the league common. Lucchesi’s cauldron of infinite grounders, a pinch of line drives and strikeouts, and even fewer pitch varieties, makes him one of the distinctive pitchers within the sport.
Friday, April 16, 9:38 PM ET: Matt Shoemaker vs. Andrew Heaney
Shoemaker didn’t fairly have the identical cache in Anaheim that Musgrove did in Pittsburgh or that Wheeler had in New York, however he was along with his previous crew the longest of anybody within the bunch, sticking in Anaheim for six years in comparison with Wheeler’s 5 with the Mets and Musgrove’s three with the Pirates. Shoemaker has not pitched in Angel Stadium since September 30, 2018, and if his profession numbers on the Large A are any indication, he could also be wanting to get again on Friday as a member of the Twins.
The bearded sinkerballer has logged over 5 instances as many innings in Angel Stadium as every other yard. These 262.7 innings have been extraordinarily form to Shoemaker: He has a glowing 278/64 Ok/BB on the Orange County diamond with each an ERA and WHIP which are higher than his profession averages. Since leaving the Halos, the sinker and splitter have nonetheless been Shoemaker’s bread and butter, a lot in order that he nonetheless threw them over 25% of the time whereas pitching for the Blue Jays in 2019 and ’20. However as somebody who had a entrance row seat to the Mike Trout present actually is aware of, these splitters and sinkers on the backside of the zone could not come again. Right here’s a take a look at Trout’s wOBA by zone from the final season earlier than the pandemic, courtesy of Baseball Savant:
For probably the primary time within the final 10 years, although, Trout could not even be the most important downside right here. Although it’s a classically small 2020 pattern dimension, Shoemaker’s sinker didn’t fare nicely in any respect towards lefties final season. Of the 12 plate appearances by left-handed hitters that ended with a sinker, 5 resulted in successful. Lefties slugged 1.600 on it with an .828 wOBA, whereas righties settled in with a way more palatable .353 and .325. If I have been the Angels’ hitting coach, I might merely inform Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh to sit down on the sinker.
Shoemaker’s teammates have the unlucky pleasure of dealing with the precise sort of pitcher they struggled with final yr. Left-handed pitchers (a gaggle Andrew Heaney belongs to) held the Twins to an 81 wRC+ and .249 wOBA, seventh and fourth-worst among all teams. Minnesota’s collective slash line towards lefties was, throughout the board, worse than their one towards righties. Their batted ball output took successful too. They posted a .244/.318/.456 line towards righties, with a 33.9 Exhausting% (ninth within the league), whereas managing only a .236/.309/.349 exhibiting towards southpaws, with a 29.6 Exhausting% (twenty fifth within the league.
As a result of quirks of a beginning pitcher’s schedule, Heaney has solely seen the Twins one time: September 19, 2015. Miguel Sanó and Byron Buxton are the one gamers from that game who’re nonetheless with Minnesota. The one lively Twinkie who Heaney is even barely aware of is Nelson Cruz, and by acquainted, I imply Cruz is 5-for-17 towards him with three house runs. Sadly for Heaney, not all Twins lose their mojo once they step in towards a lefty. Cruz and his lifetime .962 OPS towards them assist put the growth in Boomstick.
Underneath the Radar Matchup – Tuesday, April 13, 7:20 PM ET: Pablo López vs. Max Fried
There’s no former fan favourite returning to spite his previous crew right here, however don’t sleep on Tuesday night time’s duel between the Marlins’ Pablo López and the Braves’ Max Fried. López is staking a agency declare on the second spot in Miami’s rotation. He was an integral a part of the Fish’s magic run to the postseason final yr, when he accrued extra WAR (1.6) pitching within the truncated season than he did below extra regular circumstances in 2019 (1.5). Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 225 kilos, López eschews the standard energy pitcher mould and as an alternative dices hitters up along with his dynamite off-speed stuff. Arm-side changeups are López’s pitch du jour, which leads to little or no arduous contact towards the 25-year-old. When the changeup is feeling good, it may be arduous to make contact with in any respect.
Ynoa has begun the season on a six-inning scoreless streak, beginning with a shutout aid look towards the Phillies earlier than blanking the Nationals in his first begin. Ynoa is one among 27 players born in 1998 to already attain the massive leagues, however in contrast to his teammate and fellow ’98er Ian Anderson, Ynoa was by no means seen as one of many sport’s prime prospects. With accidents forcing him into the rotation very early within the season, Ynoa has a golden alternative to indicate out. His fastball and slider utilization charges mainly swapped locations from 2019 to ’20, and now the teen goes to the slider in over 45% of his choices. A everlasting bullpen position nonetheless looks as if the almost definitely end result, however for now Ynoa is getting a trial by hearth within the starter’s den. Despite the fact that Tuesday beckons with Aaron Nola and Jack Flaherty, think about a second display screen for this battle of late ’90s infants.