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8/13/19: Open Game Thread

Yusei Kikuchi is starting and frankly that’s enough for me

Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners
When you burn right through nap time
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Good evening, Mariners fans. I hope you are feeling rested and recovered from your off-day because you’ll need that energy to grind out yet another baseball game. No rest for the step-back, as they say.

We have our lineups:

Against the Detroit Tigers the Mariners are deploying Austin Nola in right field and Tim Lopes in left. One day I will tell my children about the Nola-Lopes-Murphy era Mariners. “What a sad story, papa,” they will tell me, blinking away tears.

“Yes, but it is through pain that we learn.” I say with a knowing smile. “Just as you learn which animals to pet and what foods to eat, we all must take a step-back to ensure we are walking the right path. Yes?” I ruffle their heads while their robot butler tucks them in and places a metal kiss on each of their foreheads.

“Papa,” says the youngest before I close the door, their voice cracking. “You don’t think that will happen again, do you?”

“Now, now. It wasn’t bad as all that. Murphy was a dinger machine, after all. Now go to sleep, you don’t want me to have to tell you the tale of 2010 again, do you?” I chuckle to myself as a small scream escapes down the hallway before I click the door closed.

Ah. Well. That was something, yes?

Anywho, Yusei Kikuchi is getting the start and will look to replicate his success from last week’s 5 inning, 8 K affair, and his 6.2 innings of 2 run ball that he threw against the Tigers on the 26th.

I broke down some of Kikuchi’s issues a few weeks ago, here”

The analysis essentially amounted to his problems stemming from an inconsistency in his mechanics (resulting in some league-worst tunneling numbers and many meatballs) and misplaced trust in his curveball. Last week’s start was a much better version of Kikuchi than we’ve seen in some time, with him mixing the slider (36%) and four seam (39%) almost evenly, with more changeups (12.8%) than his normally ineffective curveball (11.3%), and plenty of wiffs. He also took a break from throwing everything in the strike zone.

Some of Kikuchi’s best outings feature the least amount of pitches thrown in the strike zone

While the release point data I looked at from statcast seemed a little tighter than previous outings, nothing jumped out as different enough to warrant talking about yet.

If you are in need of a Thing to Watch, Kikuchi’s pitch mix and the amount of pitches he throws out of the zone when ahead in the count may be an interesting use of your most valuable of resources, time.