Our countdown to San Diego Padres Opening Day 2019 has reached 84 days!
The days continue to slowly go by, the temperature continues to drop, yet the San Diego Padres return to the baseball field in 84 days for a regular season game. We have been counting down the days to Opening Day 2019 with a daily stat(s) that corresponds to the number of days remaining in our countdown or highlighting Padres players who have worn that particular jersey number. Today, we highlight 84, the weakest average exit velocity allowed by a San Diego Padres pitcher.
Per Baseball Savant, opposing hitters posted an average exit velocity of 84 mph against both reliever Phil Maton and rookie starting pitcher Brett Kennedy in 2018. Maton wins the award for weakest contact allowed on the team, edging Kennedy’s mark of 84.8 mph by the slightest of margins with an 84.7 mph average exit velocity allowed. For reference, the league average was 87.3 mph last season.
We already highlighted Maton in a previous countdown post (Phil Maton Days Until Opening Day 2019) and how his slider was much more effective than what the basic stat lines show and how his extreme spin rates helped to limit hard contact in 2018. Entering his third season in the majors, expect a solid season from Maton, especially if his defense behind him can pick it up a bit. His 2018 numbers were hit pretty hard by poor defensive plays.
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Brett Kennedy may have also ended his season by allowing an average exit velocity of 84 mph on batted balls, but his path to that number was quite different from Maton’s. Kennedy made six starts, recording a 6.75 ERA and 1.80 WHIP across 26.2 rookie innings, ending his season sooner than expected after undergoing knee surgery in September.
Hitters feasted on his fastball, hitting .359 and slugging .536 against Kennedy’s four-seamer, but struggled to make successful contact against his changeup. Hopefully, the knee discomfort hurt Kennedy’s debut in the majors and he can come back in 2019 and fight for a roster spot. A rotation spot may be a bit more difficult for Kennedy to win, but I would prefer to see him in a bullpen role where he can reach back with his fastball and focus on his slider more. While two-pitch pitchers may not have much success as starters, Kennedy could provide value in a long relief role.
Until tomorrow, San Diego Padres fans! Anyone have any good Netflix recommendations while we wait for the hot stove to heat up?