Tyler Mahle made his Triple-A debut last night for the Louisville Bats. He joined the Bats after 14 dominant starts for Double-A Pensacola where he posted a 1.59 ERA in 85.0 innings. That came along with 17 walks and 87 strikeouts. The 22-year-old didn’t miss a beat in his first start at the next level. While his defense let him down some, committing two errors in the same inning, leading to three unearned runs, the rest of the game went as well as could be expected from a statistical standpoint. He allowed no other runs in 6.0 innings pitched, gave up just four hits, walked one batter and had nine strikeouts.

The Fastball

This is where Tyler Mahle shines on the mound. Last night, according to the stadium radar gun, the right hander was throwing 91-93 MPH throughout the night, touching a tad higher on occasion. That’s not really unexpected and generally, in the area of where he pitches at (he’s a little faster in his pitching range in some games). What stands out has never been the velocity for Mahle, though he can reach back for 97 or 98 every so often, but it’s his control of the pitch. He’s always been able to locate the fastball very well. Last night was no different. 73.3% of the fastballs that he threw went down as strikes of some kind. The movement on the pitch is also rather impressive. It sinks. It’s got good, late running action to it. There’s a lot to like with the fastball.

The offspeed pitches

This is the area where Tyler Mahle hasn’t ever really stood out. Scouting reports have long said that his secondary offerings were average-ish at best. Last night that seemed to be the case. Two breaking balls flashed good biting action to them, but neither made it 60 feet. The rest were fringe-average offerings. The change up is a solid enough pitch, showing some armside run, but it’s another average-ish offering.

Last night was rather interesting to watch when it came to the offspeed stuff. Another thing that’s brought up with Tyler Mahle is that he relies on his fastball a lot. That was certainly true last night as he threw his fastball 74% of the time. That means he went to the offspeed stuff just 26% of the time. Your typical big leaguer throws the fastball 65% of the time, though some guys do go with it significantly more and some significantly less depending on who we are talking about. Of the 27 offspeed pitches that he did through, 16 of them didn’t go for strikes.

Overall thoughts on Tyler Mahle

Last night seemed to be much like other starts for Tyler Mahle. Use the fastball a lot, painting the corners or coming up and in at the top of the zone on hitters. This is a big strength for the righty. But, the secondary stuff still needs work. While I have seen him have better nights with these offerings than he had last night, I still believe that these are mostly fringe-average pitches. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it probably does mean that his strikeout rate is going to decrease in the big leagues some. Still, strike one is the best pitch in baseball and the fastball movement and control that Mahle brings is going to allow him to do things that other guys with similar secondary offerings usually can’t. His fastball, despite non-elite velocity, can be a strikeout pitch because of what he can do with it.

16 Responses

    • Wes

      Hope not. We will prob need him starting At some point next season

    • asinghoff

      I think you must have missed the part where it said Mahle has excellent control of his fastball.

    • Norwood Nate

      A general comment about Cingrani: I think he gets a bad wrap for walking a lot of guys. And deservedly so the past two seasons. He did walk too many guys.

      But maybe a ray of hope. It looks like that may be improving, at least in a small sample size this season. Cingrani’s BB% since 2015, since he’s been used primarily as a reliever, has decreased each season. He had 16.1%, 13.7%, and 6.7% This season it’s taken a bigger jump. He currently has a 4.0 K/BB sitting at 12 to 3 on the season.

      • asinghoff

        20 percent of the appearances in 2017 compared to 2016 so small sample size this year, but definitely huge improvement over 2015 when he had 8x the BBs in only 2 and half times the appearances.

  1. Wes

    IMO, once u throw over 90, accuracy is more important than pitch speed

    • Doug Gray

      It’s tough to say how true or not this actually is because we only have data on big leaguers to work with. But, when it comes to big leaguers, there’s a correlation between throwing harder and lower ERA.

  2. Hoyce

    I’d say strike 3 is the best pitch in baseball.

    • Doug Gray

      You can’t get to strike 3 if you never get strike 1.

  3. MikeD

    As I said in the daily post, I watched him and unlike most of the other talented pitchers, Mahle, actually looks like he is in control of his execution. Watching him does remind me of Greg Maddox in that he knows where he wants to throw a pitch and then he does it. I hope he improves his secondary stuff (and believe he will), but I am confident that he will be a solid pitcher every 5 days.

    Doug,
    Why do you think he has not improved his secondary stuff? Is it possible that he is so successful with his fastball effectiveness and that’s good enough for him. Also, with not throwing sliders and other stressful pitches, is he more apt to avoid injury?

  4. Kindell

    This is good data. Hopefully the Reds really encourage him to work on the offspeed stuff while he is still is in the minors. I know we get caught up in watching Minor League stats, but a lot of times the best results we can’t see in the boxscore.

    I really like Tyler Mahle, he always seems to make adjustments and get things figured out. Typically you will see young pitchers start their careers in the Big Leagues throwing their fastball above 70%. They usually decrease that number as they go on in their careers. I think this is spot on though, his secondary pitches will probably determine how successful of a SP he can be.

  5. The Rage

    Unlike Reed, he hides his fastball really well. But he needs to improve his secondary offerings if he wants to have a lengthy major league career.

  6. The Duke

    Everybody loves the swing and miss breaking stuff, but fastball movement, control, and command are the most important thing to have if you are going to be able to pitch to big league hitters. Just look at Robert Stephenson. His breaking stuff is filthy, but he can’t consistently put it in the zone and can’t control his fastball. Granted, I’d like to see one of his breaking pitches improve a bit, but Mahle’s floor is pretty high because of that elite command and control. Plus the fastball has enough movement and deception to be tough to square up consistently.

  7. CP

    Have to love seeing him come out and just keep doing what he has been doing in AA. Does he get a quick shot due to the Finny injury at the MLB rotation? If not him, who do you guys think get the call for Saturday?

    • Statjunkie

      He is the ultimate competitor, he does what he needs to succeed. Aka can’t hit his fastball then they get them all day long.
      As soon as he is challenged he will make the adjustment. He did that 1 game in AA when he could not command his fastball. Secondary was fine.

      Everyone would be better served (Reds) if they told him we know you are ready so we don’t care about outcome work on secondary. Problem is a blip and everyone freaks out.

      If he stays in AAA until September call ups, then why not get as good with Secondary and try different things without fear of walks, hits, homeruns being held against him. Do we want a hall of fame Minor leader or the best possible Major leaguer?