The Mariners made a miraculous comeback to defeat the Giants on Opening Day, but for most of the game, the team was behind. Marco Gonzales threw the first pitch of 2021 for Seattle and he wasn’t his normal self.
Marco walked the first batter of the game which set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to go. He walked three batters which is highly uncharacteristic of Marco. He also allowed five earned runs in six innings.
Marco Gonzales didn’t throw enough strikes
Last season, Marco Gonzales threw a first-pitch strike 64.3% of the time and had one of the lowest walk rates in the MLB. In yesterday’s game, he threw a first-pitch strike 51.9% of the time.
For a guy like Marco who doesn’t have an overpowering fastball and top-tier breaking ball, he relies on controlling the strike zone and it’s hard to do that when you fall behind in the count.
The 29-year-old threw 99 pitches and only 58 of them were for strikes (59%). According to Fan Graphs, he threw 45.4% of his pitches inside the strike zone while he only threw 37.4% of his pitches in the zone yesterday.
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The Mariners ace got hurt by the long ball
In 2020, Marco allowed 1.03 home runs per nine innings. On Opening Day, he allowed three home runs. One to Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, and Austin Slater.
The home run to Evan Longoria was honestly just really good hitting. Marco painted the outside corner with a sinker and the veteran hit it where it was pitched.
For Buster Posey and Austin Slater, Marco fell behind in the count which was the problem for the entire game. Marco fell behind 2-0 and left a cutter on the inside part of the plate which Posey turned on.
Slater also got into a favorable hitter’s count and hit a 3-1 cutter up in the zone over the right-field wall.
Marco Gonzales’ cutter wasn’t in mid-season form
Ryan Rowland-Smith mentioned his cutter on the broadcast and said he just wasn’t able to finish it. Here’s how his pitches were valued from yesterday’s game:
- 1.3 wFB (Fastball runs above average)
- -2.8 wCT
- -0.1 wCB
- -1.0 wCH
Two of the home runs he allowed were off of the cutter which is why the wCT is so large compared to the rest of his pitches.
It’s still only just one game
Marco Gonzales struggled very badly in Spring Training, allowing 11 earned runs in 15.2 innings. So, it might just take some time for Marco to find his 2020 form.
Plus, five earned runs in six innings isn’t what we desire from the Gonzaga product, but it isn’t terrible. It kept the Mariners in the game by just enough.
It was a tough game for a lot of the aces around the MLB so nothing to worry about yet Mariners fans. Clayton Kershaw allowed five earned runs in 5.2 innings. Yu Darvish allowed four earned runs in 4.2 innings. And Jack Flaherty allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings.
Let’s see how Yusei Kikuchi does today!