Mariners: Is Marco Gonzales back to being an Ace?
I’m going to tell you now. Baseball Savant can be your friend. It can be your enemy. Or, it can be a useful tool to learn more about what is going on, as long as you put the time in. I’m still working on it, and am thinking of putting something together similar to a “for dummies” type thing. I know it could’ve helped me. Anyway, consider this a Baseball Savant dive on Marco Gonzales to see if the resident Mariners crafty lefty is back to a top of the rotation talent.
We were all worried about Marco at the beginning of the year. He just didn’t look the same. He was missing early in counts, falling behind, and walking WAY more people than was normal for Marco. Check out some of his walk rates throughout his time as a pitcher for the Mariners.
- 2018: 1.7 BB/9
- 2019: 2.5 BB/9
- 2020: 0.9 BB/9
- Through July 2021: 3.5 BB/9
- August 2021: 1.1 BB/9
You can see that something was off through the start of the year, and it was definitely affecting Marco Gonzales.
I remember watching the first start of the year against the Giants, and you could tell right away that he was off. Just barely missing, instead of painting. What else can we parse out that could have led to a change in how Marco was playing? Here are some things I found.
- Throwing the sinker a lot more (52% in August, 33% in July)
- Curve half as often (18.5% to 9.2%)
- Gained about .5-1.0 MPH
Then, there was the fact that his spin rate jumped back up by a lot after falling in July.
- Curve: 2204-2275
- Sinker: 2067-2131
- 4-seamer: 2002-2113
- Cutter: 2014-2098
- Change: Actually down, 2182-2143
He’s going with what works, and eliminating that which isn’t working. More sinkers, more strikes, throwing the curve less, and getting more spin on his pitches. It’s led to a wonderful August, one of the better months in his career. Five outings, 33 innings, five runs, four walks, an ERA of 1.36, and a slash line against of .181/.208/.284.
Marco sure looks like he is figured it out. Maybe part of it is a newfound dad strength. Maybe it’s being healthy and away from the confusing and difficult 2020 season. WE know this for sure. Marco is having a great August, and we sure would love to see it continue.