Mariners takeaway no. 4 – The back end of the rotation looks shaky
The opening series against the Giants gave me hope that the front end of the rotation would be good this year, but the most recent series has me worried about the back end. Justus Sheffield took the mound on Monday and he just didn’t get the job done. He threw only 54 of his 92 pitches for strikes and allowed eight hits. Sheffield gave up six runs, four earned, and walked two in five innings of work.
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One of the problems for Sheffield was allowing too many hard-hit balls. The White Sox were on him and hit the ball 95.5 mph on average off of him. He allowed barrel on 11.1% of batted balls and batters posted a .347 xBA and .621 xSLG. To compare, the young lefty minimized xBA to .257 last season, and the average exit velocity off of him was 90.7 mph. I am hoping his first start of the season was a fluke but if it’s not, it’s very worrisome.
James Paxton started game two against Lucas Giolito things were looking very good. He forced Adam Eaton to pop out and struck out Luis Robert and Jose Abreu. In the second inning, he started off with a walk and a ground out, and that was the last we saw of him. The Big Maple was taken out of the game which is a huge loss for the Mariners. It will be interesting to see how Nick Margevicius fills the void, for hopefully just a short while, but only time will tell.
And finally, we have Justin Dunn who threw in the matinee. The young right-hander walked eight batters and allowed one hit. That is not a typo! Justin threw 48 out of 93 pitches for strikes and somehow got away with just allowing three earned runs. Dunn showed glimpses of brilliance but he was just way too inconsistent and fell behind in the count so often.
When you play a team like the White Sox, they are going to take advantage of your control issues, and they certainly did. They honestly should have scored three more runs and knocked Dunn out of the game even earlier. Let’s hope the back end of the rotation gets a little stronger because I have confidence in the first three.