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Launch angles — September 10, 2017

All the baseball nuggets you need to start your day.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The MLB season lasts half the year, and it can be hard for the average fan to keep up. That’s where we come in. Every day during the 2017 regular season, Beyond the Box Score will be recapping all the biggest action from the previous day — with a sabermetric slant, of course — and looking ahead to what today will bring.

Yesterday’s biggest play

Carlos Asuaje caps off the Padres comeback — +.583 WPA

GIF via MLB.com

While the Indians and their 17-game win streak have garnered most of the headlines, the Diamondbacks had a hot stretch of their own. Over the end of August and beginning of September, Arizona won 13 consecutive games, taking the series finale against the Mets before sweeping the Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, and Dodgers again. At 82-58, the D-backs came home for a three-game set with the Padres hoping to pad their impressive run.

But San Diego was happy to ruin the party for its NL West rival. The Padres pounded Patrick Corbin on Friday en route to a 10-6 win, ending Arizona’s streak. On Saturday, things looked brighter for the Snakes, who had a 7-2 lead through eight innings. The Friars wouldn’t go down without a fight, though. First came Wil Myers, who cracked his second long ball of the game:

GIF via MLB.com

That made the score 7-4 and chased Andrew Chafin. Fernando Rodney came on to wrap things up, and after he fanned Cory Spangenberg for the first out, things unraveled pretty quickly. Jabari Blash worked a free pass and moved up on a wild pitch, then scored on an Austin Hedges double. Erick Aybar brought Hedges around with a single, and another base hit put two men on for Asuaje.

Defense and baserunning aren’t really Asuaje’s strong suits; by UZR and BsR, he’s been pretty much average this year. Plus, he sucks against left-handers, who have held him to a 61 wRC+ in 67 plate appearances. The Padres have him in the lineup because he’s solid against righties — even if they try to pitch him outside:

Image via Brooks Baseball

That Rodney changeup was nearly in the other batter’s box. Yet Asuaje managed to poke it down the left-field line, where David Peralta misplayed it, allowing Manuel Margot to score the winning run from first. In the blink of an eye, a 7-2 deficit had become an 8-7 advantage.

Although Brad Hand made things a little interesting in the bottom of the ninth — he hit Adam Rosales to load the bases with two down — a Ketel Marte strikeout ended the game. Arizona is now 82-60, still in the driver’s seat for the first NL Wild Card yet stung after back-to-back losses to a 65-78 San Diego team. Playing spoiler isn’t quite the same as a 13-game winning streak, but for starving Padres fans, it’ll have to suffice.

Yesterday’s best game score

Luis Severino — 81

Game Score was developed by Bill James as a quick way to evaluate a starting pitcher’s performance. The score begins at 50, with points added for outs and strikeouts, and subtracted for walks, hits, and runs. A score of 70 is very good; a score of 90 is outstanding.

GIF via MLB.com

When you write enough of these recaps, some players will start to come up again and again. Severino is one such player — he’s now had the top Game Score of the day three times this year, first on May 24 against the Royals, then on Sept. 3 against the Red Sox. This game was par for the course for the right-hander; he faced 26 Rangers hitters, gave up one run on one hit and three walks, and picked up 10 strikeouts (as shown in the GIF above).

On Saturday, though, Severino had another factor working against him. Whether Gary Sanchez was having a bad day or Tim Timmons was in a bad mood, the Yankees ace didn’t see many calls go his way:

Image via Baseball Savant

Despite that, Severino managed to throw 64 of 100 pitches for strikes. How? It started and ended with a skill the Rangers themselves have emphasized — fastball command. This isn’t the zone plot of a wild starter:

Image via Baseball Savant

By pounding the zone with his 55 four-seamers, Severino accumulated 38 strikes, as well as 11 called strikes. Texas hitters were aggressive against the heat, and that worked to his advantage — he snagged 11 whiffs on the pitch as well. Even with an unfavorable strike zone, Severino gutted through a dominant game, marred only by Brett Nicholas’s RBI double in the fifth.

At this point, Severino can’t get much better. He’s in the top 10 among all pitchers in strikeout-minus-walk rate (22.7 percent) and ground ball rate (50.9 percent). Over 27 starts and 176 13 innings, he’s posted a 2.96 ERA and 3.06 FIP, each of which is more than 30 percent above the AL average. In a year, Severino has gone from Quad-A pitcher to probable Wild Card game starter; that should terrify whatever poor team has to face him in the Bronx.

Yesterday’s biggest home run

Wil Myers — 461 feet

GIF via MLB.com

Before the ninth-inning comeback, San Diego had to get on the board. Zack Godley had been dealing — through six innings, he’d allowed two baserunners and zero runs while striking out seven Padres.

In 10 plate appearances against Godley before this game, Myers was slashing .444/.500/.667. So perhaps it was due that, after a second-inning strikeout and a fifth-inning groundout, Myers should come through in the seventh with Yangervis Solarte on second. Or maybe hitter-pitcher matchup data is small-sample bullshit, and Godley grooved an easy pitch in a hitter’s count:

Image via Brooks Baseball

Hanging a 1-0 cut fastball to a guy who hit 28 homers last year and already had 25 this year is just asking for trouble. At this point, no one knew about what would go down in the ninth; this was just a moonshot from the Padres first baseman, his 26th in an otherwise unremarkable year.

SABRy tidbits

  • If you’re into baseball history — and you’ve already read everything BtBS’s Mary Craig has written — then Pinstripe Alley has a story for you. Matt Ferenchick tells the strange tale of Julie Wera, who had a cameo with the 1927 Yankees and later… well, see for yourself.
  • After another up-and-down stint in the Indians rotation, Danny Salazar has returned to the bullpen. Will he become the next Andrew Miller, or just another mediocre setup man? BtBS’s Merritt Rohlfing, writing for Let’s Go Tribe, takes a look at Salazar’s potential as a reliever.

Today’s best pitching matchup

Tyler Chatwood (4.61 projected ERA) vs. Rich Hill (3.57 projected ERA)

While several other aces (Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Robbie Ray, and Stephen Strasburg) are slated to take the hill today, they’ll be facing some uninspiring opponents (Carson Fulmer, Kendall Graveman, Luis Perdomo, and Ben Lively, respectively). Hill is the only elite pitcher with a respectable adversary, so he gets top billing.

That shouldn’t take away from Chatwood, who’s had a respectable season in context. The righty’s 4.88 ERA, when adjusted for Coors Field, is two percent better than average; that puts him ahead of Jose Quintana (4.32 ERA) and Michael Wacha (4.21 ERA), among others. Still, the Dodgers southpaw and his 3.67 ERA clearly reign supreme. As they go for the sweep of this four-game set, the Rockies will have a tough Hill to climb road ahead of them.


Ryan Romano is the co-managing editor for Beyond the Box Score. He also writes about the Orioles for Camden Depot, sometimes. Follow him on Twitter if you enjoy angry tweets about Maryland sports.