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A Positive October - Day 29

Mike Mayers

Day 29 Today will be the last active player on the roster being highlighted. Today's subject is none other than Mike Mayers. Mike Mayers made the transition from starter to reliever over the winter. He was very much a failed starter at the major league level and this was the one path left available to him in order to stay in the majors in 2018. Mayers grabbed the opportunity by its' metaphorical horns and ran with it. Mayers did an incredible job of lowering the percentage of pitches that he threw in the middle of the plate, with a 6.5% "meatball" percentage. That was nearly 1 full percent below league average when typically in the past he had been at 10+% at the major league level. He was able to keep hitters off balance by only throwing 49.5% of his pitches in the zone this year, but getting 39.4% of them (about league average) on the edges of the zone as opposed to much less previously. Mayers threw 60+% 4-seam fastballs and 38+% sliders this year, adding 11 change ups to the mix over the course of the year. His fastball seemed to be his setup pitch while his slider was the put-away pitch, with over a 30% whiff rate on swings against the slider. Part of this was the "setup" of the fastball, which averaged about 2.5 mph faster than average and hit 99 mph on occasion and thus having a slightly faster slider than normal with slightly less horizontal movement but with a league average amount of drop on it. Like many starters-turned-relievers, Mayers simply couldn't keep it up all year however. He was bounced around from Memphis to St. Louis and back a bit this year, I believe wasting the time of the year in which his arm would be more fresh. He started out in his first 37 MLB games pitched with 6 holds, 1 save, no blown saves, and a 2-1 record. He threw 42 innings in those 37 games and had a WHIP of under 1.2 with a K:BB over 3 and a 3.43 ERA and .711 OPS against. That was through August 12th. Mayers had also pitched 5 minor league games and 7 2/3 minor league innings at that point in addition to his work at the major league level. After that, Mayers was much worse down the stretch. His final 13 games at the major league level, Mayers only threw 9 2/3 innings, giving up a 1.194 OPS against, a 10.24 ERA, and a WHIP over 2.000. His K:BB was still above 3, literally the only positive to point at from that time of the year. Overall, Mayers' 3.95 FIP and xFIP and his 3.69 SIERA lend credence to him being better than his 4.70 ERA would have suggested from this year. Mayers had the distinction of being the 4th least lucky pitcher on the Cardinals by his expected outcomes vs his actual outcomes according to Statcast. Based on the batted ball types against him, he should have allowed a batting average of .253 and a slugging of .411. That'd be an OPS of just .664 on batted balls. Instead, he was torched for a .289 average and .485 slugging, giving him an OPS against of .774 on batted balls. That's 110 points (16.6%) worse than what "should" have happened. Just some horrible batted ball luck at times this year. In fact, he was unlucky enough that out of the 361 pitchers who pitched to at least 200 batters this year, he had the 11th highest difference between his actual wOBA and his expected wOBA (xwOBA) this past season. He's due for quite a regression next year if he can keep his peripherals the same. Positive October Day 29, in the books!


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