The Angels will start Patrick Sandoval in Game Two of the series
The Braves won a thriller on Friday night, getting manhandled by Shohei Ohtani until crushing him the third time through the order en route to an 8-1 laugher. In that game, Charlie Morton had quite a disconnect between his inputs (83 FIP-, 106 xFIP-) and his outputs (zero runs in six innings). On Saturday, the Braves will tab Kyle Wright to make his 19th start of the year, and lately, Wright has been no stranger to less-than-deserved outputs.
Through his first 13 starts of the year, Wright mostly dominated: 70 ERA-, 69 FIP-, 79 xFIP-. In those 13 starts, he only had four with an xFIP- above 100, and only three with an FIP- or ERA- above 100. Since then, though, things have kind of turned. In his last five outings, Wright has an FIP- above 100 in all but one, and an xFIP- above 100 in all but one as well (not the same start). On the flip side, though, he’s only allowed seven runs in those four starts, so he has a pretty undeserved-but-all-help-appeciated-I-guess 71/127/110 line. As a result, his seasonal line now features some substantial digression — 70/85/87.
It’s hard to pinpoint anything specific in why Wright has been worse lately. His strikeouts are way down — he’s struck out five or fewer in each of these last five starts, after doing so just four times in the 13 starts prior. He’s allowing more contact in general, hence the lack of strikeouts, but his pitch mix hasn’t really been altered in a way that suggests the strikeouts and whiffs are down because he’s throwing stuff that’s easier to connect with. You can just as likely chalk it up to greater familiarity with his arsenal on the part of his opponents, or a lack of crispness. No matter what, though, it’s something Wright’s gonna have to figure out, because he can’t run a 110 xFIP- indefinitely and hope to stick around, fantastic start to the season or not.
After not announcing their rotation plans for days after the All-Star Game, the Angels appear to be set to throw Patrick Sandoval at the Braves in this game. While a lost of this Anaheim roster is a pushover, that is not the case for the lefty-throwing Sandoval, who has racked up 3.6 fWAR in his last 168 innings dating back to the start of last season. This year, Sandoval has 2.1 fWAR in 81 frames — Wright has 2.1 fWAR in 110 frames. Sandoval has a 77/74/95 line, aided by a minuscule 5.3 percent HR/FB. Interestingly, his xERA is way higher than everything else, due to a combination of walks (also penalized in FIP/xFIP) and allowing a bunch of flare-y liners (not really penalized in FIP/xFIP).
Sandoval, as a pitcher, is kinda weird. He’s been good, for sure, but the quality of his pitching is because he has a five-pitch mix with okay-ish pitch shapes… and absolutely horrid command. To be clear, I am not saying, “he has a double-digit walk rate, of course his command is horrid.” What I mean, instead, is that if you watch Sandoval, he doesn’t hit the target, and instead mostly benefits because he’s got five pitches with fairly distinct velocity and movement profiles, all of which go to mostly-random places when he throws them.
This means that he’s incredibly inconsistent start-to-start, based on whether the wildness is effectiveness or not. In his 15 outings, eight (!!) have an xFIP- above 100, and six have an K%-BB% below 10 percent, though he’s perfectly capable of busting out a 9/1 or 10/2 K/BB ratio as well.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Atlanta Braves of Cobb County
Saturday, July 23, 2022
7:20 pm EDT
Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Bally Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
XM Radio: Ch. 187