Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a starting pitcher from the Seattle Mariners is heading to the DL. The Mariners announced this past week that offseason acquisition Drew Smyly will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks due to an elbow strain. He is expected to be out until late May to mid-June.
Stepping up into that spot in the rotation is expected to be Ariel Miranda
Miranda, 28, a big lefty out of Cuba standing at 6’2” and 190lbs is looking at his first full season at the major league level. He will be the fourth starter behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton and will be backed by Yovani Gallardo.
Miranda’s pitching method is a good fit for Safeco Field. With the Mariners improved defense in the outfield, his pop-up, pitch to contact style will serve him well at a park that is still not so friendly to hitters. He could see some success in Smyly’s absence.
Last year he posted a 3.88 ERA with 44 SO in 58 innings in his 12 appearances (10 starts in 11 appearances in SEA). The only thing to worry about with Miranda is his pitch selection. Last year, he relied on three pitches; fastball, changeup and splitter. Those three pitches made up 94% of his pitches thrown.
So far this spring, he has introduced a slider as his second go to pitch behind that 94mph fastball. This gives him a much needed horizontal movement pitch which will help keep batters from sitting on the fastball. His splittler has shown improvement over the offseason as well, boasting a 66% swing rate with half of those being swing and misses.
The short term outlook for Miranda is positive if he can show control and keep improving his slider and splitter, especially given the league hasn’t had much exposure to his stuff. As for when Smyly returns, the long term hopes for Miranda seem to be having him as a bullpen asset. He can also make spot starts to give the regular starters an extra day of rest here and there.
Stats courtesy of Brooksbaseball.net, Fangraphs.com, MLB.com