DETROIT – Justus Sheffield’s riddle continued on Thursday at Comerica Park. Would he have had his elite wipeout slider, putting him in position to lose clubs and set up his other two shots? Or not, forcing him to catch up? What about its two-stitched fastball, which relies so heavily on precise location? Would the change be effective?
The results were mixed in an 8-3 loss that swept the series for Detroit, which ended its 2021 slate against Seattle with five wins from six games.
The Tigers hitters were 1 in 8 against the Sheffield slider, who sounds great on the surface. But the only success was a booming homer from Jake Rogers in the third inning which kicked off a formation that was already leading early, thanks to a first inning homer on a double center seam that Jonathan Schoop sent for solo homer.
Even so, outs against the Sheffield slider clattered out of the bat, and out of all of his throws, the Tigers tagged Sheffield for an average exit speed of 95.2 mph on their 18 balls in play – the highest average. of Sheffield’s career. For context, Statcast ranks anything 95 mph or higher as being hit hard, so in essence, Detroit recorded an average of hard hit contacts during Sheffield’s four innings, which marked its shortest outing of the season. He had gone at least five frames in each of his previous 11 releases.
“They are an aggressive club and have some power in their lineup, but I think Sheff didn’t have much on the fastball and certainly didn’t have much control of it today,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “Change, you have to spot when you don’t have your fastball, of course, [you need] your fastball command with your other throws, and today he didn’t have it. “
Sheffield has made more starts this year than in any single major league season of her young career. This is a milestone in itself, but it also served as a reminder that by entering 2021, the Mariners were aware that there would sometimes be escalating pains with their launch staff. In addition to the 24-year-old southpaw, many of Seattle’s young arms are sailing their 162-game first season.
“This year, I feel like it’s been more than a roller coaster season for me,” Sheffield said. “It looks like I’ll have a good match and then I’ll have a tough match. Next game, good game, then a difficult game. So it’s about finding that consistency. They are the most important leagues and I know it will be tough at times, but I know that I am fully capable of going out there and giving my all for my team and being a better pitcher than I have shown so far. “
Sheffield conceded five points (three earned) out of six hits and one walk over four frames. He was stellar in Seattle, as his struggles on the street became more and more pronounced.
Home: 5 as a starter, 27 2/3 innings, 4-1, 3.58 ERA, .243 opposing batting average
Street: 6 starts, 31 innings, 1-4, 6.10 ERA, .331 opposing batting average
“Last year, I thought he was a running devil. All 10 starts have been very good, very competitive, “said Servais.” This year has been a bit of an ups and downs. I know he’s frustrated. “
It is worth noting that the Sheffield defense put him in trouble on Thursday, with a couple of difficult but critical mistakes to open the fourth inning which fielded the runners, both of whom came to score.
The first was a hard hit grounder who cut off third baseman Kyle Seager’s glove as he was going to his left. Second was hit hard too, but was more playable for second baseman Donovan Walton in center. So instead of two outs and none for hitter no. 9 Willi Castro, Sheffield had runners on the corners. This led to a sacrifice flight instead of an end-inning flyout that would have completed a 1-2-3 frame.
At the pot, the Mariners couldn’t get much beyond a couple of excellent homers from Mitch Haniger, 15th and 16th of the season, which pushed him even for sixth place in the Majors. But both occurred when there were no runners on base, which – coupled with the tough day in Sheffield and the three points allowed by the bullpen – forced the Mariners to catch up all afternoon.
“I wish there was a good way to run that game,” said Servais. “I don’t think there is. We played a bad game. “