Minnesota can be a dangerous team. There are a handful of guys in their lineup that can put the ball out of the park in an instant. The downside to that is they can also struggle mightily. Chris Flexen has shown to sides, being either a great pitcher or a horrible pitcher, with little room in between. Heading into the second game of the series with the Twins, it was up in the air which Flexen we would get for the Mariners.
Well, it turns out that we got the good one. Not just a good start either. It was the best of Chris Flexen’s career, spanning 23 starts. The term “Best” can be dependant on what metric you use, so in this case, we are going with Game Score.
Chris Flexen threw an 82 Game Score, the best of the season for the Mariners.
For those unfamiliar, it was created by Bill James. I touched on a bit back in an article about Yusei Kikuchi, who actually had the best start of the season before being dethroned by Chris Flexen. Essentially, it rewards you for striking guys out, going deep into the game, and limiting runners via walks/hits. Kikuchi had an 80, derived from a start where he went seven innings, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out seven.
This isn’t a one-off for Flexen, as the Mariners FA star actually had the best start of his career just a few weeks ago against the Texas Rangers. He posted a score of 76, going seven innings, allowing three hits, one walk, and striking out six.
In the game against the Twins, everything seemed better. His accuracy was great, as he threw 77 of 107 pitches for strikes, which resulted in no free passes for the Twins hitters. He would give up just four hits while striking out eight, setting a new career-high for K’s, surpassing the seven Red Sox hitters he sat down earlier this season.
To put his game score number into a clearer context, let’s look at how it ranks compared to every other start thrown this season. Flexen’s game score currently ranks T-35th place. Before you say “hey, it isn’t that impressive”, think about how many games have been played this season. In total, there have been 996 games this season, which means we have seen 1,992 starts. Doing a bit of math, you can see that Flexen’s game comes in better than 98.24% of all starts on the year.
Yeah, he had a pretty good game. In fact, it lowered his ERA while playing at T-Mobile down to an incredible 2.16. If we can somehow set it up to only have him pitch in Seattle, things would be fantastic. His outing last night lowered his ERA down to 4.12 while lowering his FIP to 3.78, both respectable numbers.
Don’t take the outing from Flexen last night lightly. It was one of the best performances of the season. Not only that, it looks to be a solid foundation for a strong rest of the year from Chris Flexen for the Mariners.