Pitchers will have a tougher time controlling the run game, what about the Mariners arms?
Pitchers also play a big part in controlling the run game but things get a little tougher next season. The MLB has decided to enforce new rules to continue the effort to create a quicker-paced game.
Between pitches, there will be a 15-second timer when the bases are empty. With runners on base, pitchers have 20 seconds. Pitchers who violate the timer are charged with an automatic ball.
Of course, batters won’t be just allowed to stall to take advantage of this rule. Batters must be in the box and alert the pitcher by the 8-second mark or they will be charged with an automatic strike.
In addition to a strict timer, pitchers can only disengage from the rubber twice per plate appearance. The limit does reset if a runner advances during the plate appearance but this is another complexity that gives an advantage to base runners.
So, if Robbie Ray made one pickoff attempt and stepped off to wipe his sweat in the same plate appearance, the runner at first would have a major advantage; Ray has no option but to throw the pitch or give the runner a free advancement if he does disengage.
I, unfortunately, couldn’t find very good data on stolen bases allowed by pitchers. I did come across a site called Razzball which had data from 2019 to June 6, 2022, but it doesn’t seem to be an exhaustive list of MLB pitchers.
What I was able to find on the data source was information on Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzalez, Justus Sheffield, Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, Chris Flexen, and Matthew Boyd. Guess who allowed the most stolen bases per inning?
Justus Sheffield and Robbie Ray nearly allowed 0.1 stolen bases per inning. Robbie also allowed the second most steals in the Razzball timeframe. Noah Syndergaard allowed 56 stolen bases which was the most and were roughly equal to 0.2 steals per inning.
Out of the Seattle Mariners pitchers that were listed on the data source, Matthew Boyd, Chris Flexen, Luis Castillo and Marco Gonzales had the lowest stolen bases per inning ratio. To be honest, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me. I would consider these pitchers as the more athletic of the group and a little more conscious of their surroundings.
Logan Gilbert also had high stolen bases per inning ratio of 0.08. Another metric to note, Chris Flexen, Logan Gilbert, and Robbie Ray had the highest stolen base success rate in this bunch.
Obviously, these numbers are a very small group of Mariners pitchers which doesn’t provide a whole lot of context. But, looking at total stolen bases allowed on a team basis might help.
The Seattle Mariners ranked 19th in stolen bases allowed per game during 2022. The Mariners gave up 0.56 bases per game, while the Cardinals and Yankees tied for the least amount of stolen bases per game at 0.30. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since they have Yadier Molina, Jose Trevino, and Kyle Higashioka behind the plate for most of their games.
From the eyeball test, you feel like the Seattle Mariners were decent at holding the run game but the numbers say otherwise. I am sure every MLB team will be having conversations with their pitchers and catchers on figuring out how to counter the advantage given to runners in 2023. The Mariners will certainly need to make a group effort to adapt and control the run game.
Now, let’s move on to defensive shifts cause that is an interesting one for me.