Well hello there. Welcome back to another edition of Patience or Panic, and this week we’re going to continue looking at players that are on teams either in or around the playoff picture, and at the end we’ll look at a whole team that is currently in free fall.
So with the stretch run upon us let’s get right into it with…
Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the most fun teams in baseball all year. They’re young, they have energy and they have the names to make you want to watch, specifically Vlad Guerrero Jr.
But today we’re focusing on Toronto’s starting shortstop, who has in his own right been a contributor to the “young and fun” elements of the team. An All-Star earlier this year, Bichette has slashed .287/.336/.464 entering play on Wednesday, and been one of the reasons why the Blue Jays continue to stay in the playoff hunt.
However over the last three weeks Bichette’s bat has gone rather cold with a .239/.276/.353 slash line resulting in a .628 OPS. A rather steep drop off from his season-long .800 OPS.
The thing is there isn’t anything that sticks out like a sore thumb when you look at Bichette’s numbers. His hard-hit percentage has actually gone up over this three week stretch, his ground ball percentage has gone down and he is still generally using all fields.
So instead we take a look at what kinds of pitches Bichette sees at the plate.
What we find is that across all pitches, Bo is seeing less of them inside the strike zone. Pitchers are staying away from him and not giving him pitches to hit inside the zone and limiting the amount of damage he can do.
From the start of the season up until the end of July, Bichette was seeing about 40% of pitches inside the zone, and over the last three weeks that number has dropped to 33%. However as the number of pitches Bichette sees inside the strike zone has gone down, the amount of pitches he is trying to get to outside of it has gone up, from 40% to 43%. On top of that when it comes to the few pitches he is seeing inside the zone, Bichette is being less picky, swinging about five percent more.
So I think you can see what’s happening here, in an effort to capitalize on the few good pitches he is seeing, the Blue Jays star is swinging more and attempting to do more with less, which hasn’t exactly worked out thus far.
The problem is that with George Springer hitting the IL once again, the Blue Jays need Bo Bichette to pick it up sooner rather than later so that Vlad Jr can keep getting some support in that lineup and the team can keep making a playoff push.
But never fear Blue Jays fans, because Bichette’s peripherals show that he should bounce back. His hard hit percentage is well up over 40% over the last three weeks, his BABIP is still right around league average, and his ground ball percentage has gone down. He’ll be back.
Liam Hendriks, RHP, Chicago White Sox
In a rare cross town trade, the White Sox brought in closer Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs in order to bolster a bullpen and create a true monster for late game situations in October.
Unfortunately closer Liam Hendriks hasn’t exactly held up his end of the bargain, and so the sky is officially falling on the south side.
The last part of that sentence isn’t totally true. Obviously it’s never ideal when your 54-million-dollar closer is giving up runs and allows six earned runs in a two day span.
The fact of the matter though is that although Hendriks hasn’t started August as well as you might like as October baseball inches closer, he still has been very good this year. Heck, he came out Monday and struck out the side to finish off a game against a tough Oakland team.
But if you want some actual numbers to back up why you shouldn’t freak out, since August started Hendriks has used his slider more, ten percent more to be exact. The good news is that has been far and away his best pitch, with opponents hitting just .088 against the pitch and slugging just .193 against it. A good adjustment! Hendriks and the White Sox bullpen will be just fine.
The New York Mets
Speaking of the sky falling, there was no way to just pick one player from the Mets for this part of the article. Superstar Francisco Lindor remains on the IL, as does one-time MVP favorite Jacob Degrom. AS DOES deadline impact addition Javier Baez.
Pete Alonso is still hitting for power but with hardly anyone else picking up the slack around him, the Mets aren’t getting much out of those homers.
The Mets have lost five straight and seven of their last ten, falling from the top of the division to third place behind the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. However it’s hard to see where the help will be coming from with so many key pieces unavailable and on the IL.
According to Fangraphs WAR, since August 1st the Mets are 26th in baseball from an offensive standpoint. Their team slash line is .221/.229/.344. Furthermore, their team ERA is 5.21, good for 23rd in the league. It doesn’t look good, and with games against the Giants and Dodgers over the next week, it doesn’t look like it’s getting better.
Verdict: Panic. Definitely panic.
Graphic by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)