During the offseason, my expectation for John Maine was to throw around 180 quality innings for the Mets. He struggled in Spring Training and I was a little worried, but I tried to tell myself that the important thing was that he was healthy and getting his work in. Now, he has his first start under his belt and we see more of the same struggles.
Maine needed 92 pitches to complete five innings. Preferably, the team’s starting pitchers would be able to complete seven innings with 100 pitches. That works out to around 14 pitchers per inning. Last night Maine was at 18.4 pitches per inning and that simply will not get the job done.
Just as important as the raw pitch count was the types of pitches that Maine was throwing. Here are his breakdowns according to his PitchFX information at FanGraphs.
FB – 50 (54.3%)
SL – 22 (23.9%)
CH – 20 (21.7%)
The encouraging thing is that he was able to throw his slider so often. The curious thing is that he threw his changeup so often and abandoned his fastball. Here are his percentage breakdowns from 2007, when he was a 15-game winner:
FB – 66.4%
SL – 21.4%
CH – 12.2%
In 2007, Maine averaged 91.8 with his fastball and 84.1 with his changeup, for a separation of 7.7 mph between the two pitches. Wednesday night his fastball averaged 89.3 and his change was 83.6 for a separation of 5.7 mph.
From the PitchFX tool at BrooksBaseball.net, we see he end result was that he could not throw his changeup for strikes (11 of his 20 pitches were balls). He allowed two of his eight hits off changeups, both singles. The real damage came off his fastball. The remaining six hits came off his fastball, including three singles, a double and two home runs.
When he threw his slider, Maine did not allow a hit. Additionally, 15 of the 22 sliders he threw resulted in a strike or ball in play. Of his three strikeouts, two came on sliders while the other came on a fastball.
So, the end result was disappointing for Maine, but there is some reason for optimism among the bad result. Maine needs to be able to throw his slider around 20 percent of the time to be effective and he was able to do that last night. The slider was there for him, both in numbers and results. Batters were unable to do very much with his changeup, even if he had trouble throwing it for strikes.
When Maine takes the mound again, check to see if he has more velocity on his fastball. If he can add a few more miles to his fastball, hopefully batters will not be able to tee off on it like it appeared the Marlins did on Wednesday.