Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Preview: Daniel Mengden
Sunday, May 19, the Blue Jays will start Joe Biagini against the Oakland Athletics. The A’s will counter with the Daniel Mengden, the owner of the greatest moustache in the major leagues.
Daniel Mengden was originally a fourth round pick of the Houston Astros before arriving on the Oakland high-A team midway through the 2015 season. The next year, in 2016, Mengden managed to rise from AA, to AAA, to the majors. In his rookie year, Mengden struggled to a 2-9 record and 6.50 ERA.
After beginning 2017 in AAA for the Athletics, Mengden was called up to the majors and has done quite well since. This season, his first season making the opening day roster, Mengden has been solid. Through nine starts and 50 1/3 innings pitched, the righty has been worth 1.1 fWAR with a 3-4 record, 3.75 ERA, 1.172 WHIP, and an above average 112 ERA+.
Mengden features a fastball, slider, sinker, curveball, and change-up. Interestingly, the sinker has been added back to the right-hander’s repertoire after it was not used during the 2017 season.
The four seamer is featured by the right-handed hurler 39% of the time. The heater averages a decent velocity of 93.26 mph and through nine starts, it has allowed a BAA of .330. Despite this, the fastball has accounted for the most strikeouts, 16.
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Mengden uses his slider 20.6% of the time. It averages a decent 85.05 mph with good vertical drop. The slider has the ability to approach the plate in the strike zone before falling off the table. Unsurprisingly, the slider has produced whiffs on 33.75% of swings. As well, it produces ground balls at a good rate of 51.85% of balls in play.
The righty throws sinkers 15.6% of the time while averaging a velocity of 92.77 mph—a velocity just a few ticks behind his four-seamer. The sinker has produced ground balls on 42.42% of balls in play—just behind the best ground ball pitch, the slider. Despite a low use rate, the sinker has accounted for 33% of the home runs that Mengden has allowed—leading to a high ISO against of .235.
The right-hander has broken off hooks 13.4% of the time, this season. The curveball averages a slow velocity of 72.4 mph but it has good 12-6 movement, forcing whiffs on 30.61% of swings this season. However, it has also accounted for line drives on 33.33% of balls in play. These line drives have yet to amount to much, though, as the BAA against the curve currently sits at a low .207, while the SLGA is a similarly low .345.
Mengden will change speeds on batters 11.4% of the time. The off-speed pitch that averages a decent velocity of 82 mph. The change has produced a poor rate of whiffs, currently producing swing-and-miss on 5.41% of swings. As well, the change is yet to account for a strikeout this year.
The A’s starter has been excellent in limiting walks this year. Currently his BB/9 is a criminally low 0.89 and his BB% is a tiny 2.4%. This all translates into five walks in nine starts and 50 1/3 innings pitched. In fact, Mengden has allowed less walks than home runs this year.
Mengden has been above average at limiting home runs this season. Currently his HR/9 sits at a good 1.1 and his HR/FB rate sits at 9.8%. Overall, the righty has allowed just six home runs—two of which came in a start against Houston earlier this month.
The right-hander has somehow managed a low .289 BABIP, despite a decently high hard contact rate of 39%, and a mediocre ground ball rate of 38.8%. However, Mengden has produced an above average amount of infield fly balls, currently sitting at a rate of 14.8% for the season.
The Blue Jays have very limited experience against the Texas native. Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar, and Justin Smoak have opposed the right-hander. However, just Morales has more than 2 at-bats against Mengden. Despite the limited experience, each batter, with the exception of Martin, has a hit against the Texas A & M graduate.
Daniel Mengden has been good this year, but some numbers suggest that he has been riding a little bit of a hot streak. The focus area for the Blue Jays is that he does not willingly give up walks. Therefore, if they get into a 3-ball count, the Blue Jays hitters should be prepared for a strike.