The second time around was much better for rookie pitcher Jack Flaherty. He wasn’t as dominant as his opponent, San Diego’s impressive Dinelson Lamet, but he made big pitches to get out of trouble and – with excellent work by a bullpen that is still defining itself – held the Padres in check until a late rally pushed St Louis to a 3-1 victory (box score).
His command still wasn’t what we understand it was in Memphis. Only 52 of his 86 pitches were strikes (as he walked 4 in 5 innings). Through his first two games, 40.5% of his pitches have been out of the strike zone. Still, he limited the damage to 1 run through 5 innings.
Going back to the last game of the last home stand, this is now two complete turns through the new-and-revised rotation, with encouraging results. The total team ERA through the last ten games has been a sparkling 2.50 with a .221 batting average against. The starters have worked 63.1 of those innings with a 2.70 ERA and a .230 batting average against. The bullpen’s last 26.2 innings have provided an excellent 2.03 ERA and .200 batting average against.
St Louis has won 7 of the 10 – including 6 of the last 7.
Ryan Sherriff has been one of the positive forces out of the pen since his call-up. He was the winning pitcher last night, and has a 1.29 ERA through his first 7 big-league innings.
In his very early innings, Ryan looks like a pitch-to-contact kind of guy. He hasn’t missed many bats so far. Last night, he got only 2 swinging strikes from the 11 swings taken against him. Of the last 46 swings taken against him, only 15.4% have been missed.
But, if he’s not missing bats, neither are the opposing hitters able to put the ball in play. Six of last night’s 11 swing produced foul balls. In his last 4 games, 50% of the swings against him have produced foul balls.
In 20 innings since the All-Star Break, John Brebbia (who pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning last night) has yet to be presented with a runner at third and less than two outs. He was in that situation 9 times in the season’s first half, allowing that run to score 5 times.
John threw first-pitch strikes to 2 of the 3 batters her faced last night. For the season, 115 of the 161 batters he’s faced have seen strike one. His 71.4% is the highest on the team.
None of the 3 he faced last night swung at his first pitch. Of the last 18 batters he’s faced, only Tampa Bay’s Adeiny Hechavarria has swung at his first pitch. Adieny fouled of Brebbia’s first pitch in the eighth inning of the August 27 game.
Tyler Lyons finished off the game and got the save. Like the San Francisco game on September 2, Tyler got himself into ninth-inning trouble. Unlike the San Francisco game, this time he was allowed to work his way out of it. Since the All-Star Break, Tyler has pitched in 22 games (totaling 20.1 innings). He has struck out 26 in those innings (11.51 per nine-innings) and allowed just one run (0.44 ERA). And he wasn’t on the mound when the run against him scored.
Tyler’s pitches have been up more lately than they were during his hot streak, but still no one is taking very confident swings at him. Since the All-Star Break, 38 batters have put the ball in play against Lyons, with only 7 getting hits. That makes for an uncommonly low BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .184. The BABIPists will write that off as small sample size luck, but there’s a bit more to it than that. With his looping curve and very nasty slider, Tyler is a very uncomfortable at bat these days.
Included in this is significant discomfort swinging at Tyler’s first pitch. None of the five who faced him last night did, and only 19.3 % of the batters he’s faced this season have offered at his first pitch. That number is the lowest on the pitching staff.
The Padre hitters took 7 pitches from Lyons last night – 5 of them called strikes. This has been another pattern with Tyler on the hill – taking strikes. For the season, 40.9% of the pitches that batters have taken from Lyons have been called strikes – the highest ratio on the staff.
Stephen Piscotty was last night’s lone hitting star, with two hits – including the game winning home run. Piscotty has played in 15 games since returning from Memphis, getting 49 plate appearances. In those plate appearances, Stephan has 9 singles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, and 8 walks – a .317/.429/.585 batting line. It’s starting to look like Piscotty has pushed ahead of Randal Grichuk in the outfield pecking order.
As August has lapsed into September, and the wear and tear on his body has compounded, Dexter Fowler has seen his production drop recently. Yesterday’s 0 for 3 drops him to 5 for 27 (.185) over his last 8 games.
Paul DeJong was also hitless last night (4 at bats). He is suffering through about the longest dry spell of his rookie season. Over his last 8 games, Paul is hitting just .114 (4 for 35).
Of the “Memphis Mafia” that have contributed so much to St Louis’ late playoff push, Alex Mejia has struggled more than some others – especially during his September call-up. Last night he had 4 plate appearances, striking out in 2 and grounding into double plays in the other 2. During the early days of the month, Alex is just 1 for 12 (.083) with 7 strikeouts to go along with last night’s double plays.
The Padres – who were coming off a series victory against the Dodgers – are the eighteenth team St Louis has played this season that had won its previous series. They have now won 5 of those series, losing 9 and tying the other 4. They are 27-28 in the games of those series.