Countdown to San Diego Padres Opening Day: 80 days.
Good morning, San Diego Padres fans and welcome to another day of our countdown to Opening Day 2019. As we have done with each day in our countdown, we find some statistic or jersey number that corresponds and either take a look at what that stat means for 2019 or we take a moment to reflect on a player/moment from the past as we work through this long, cold winter offseason.
Today marks 80 days before the Padres play their first regular season game, so we’re taking a look at Kazuhisa Makita‘s fastball, which he pumped out during his rookie season at an eye-opening 80 mph. Among all major league pitchers who threw a minimum of 100 pitches in 2018, Makita’s average fastball velocity was more than 3 mph slower than Steven Wright and his 83.7 mph fastball, the second slowest fastball in the majors last season.
Makita’s rookie season began with much anticipation, thanks to his true submarine delivery and nearly $4 million in guaranteed money. There may not have been much to his fastball but when it appears to rise from the ground, literally, and is paired with a 58 mph curveball, there were reasons for a bit of excitement surrounding his debut. Unfortunately, the amazement quickly dissipated as Makita struggled at the major league level and found himself frequently traveling between San Diego and El Paso.
Making 27 appearances, Makita completed his first year with an 0-1 record, 5.40 ERA, and a 1.26 WHIP. Despite striking out 37 hitters in 35 innings, Makita issued 12 walks, gave up seven home runs, and produced a groundball rate of just 20%.
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It appeared as if his time in San Diego was finished after one season when the Padres designated him for assignment earlier this winter. To add four players to the 40-man roster from the disabled list, San Diego removed Makita and outfielder Alex Dickerson (who has since returned to the organization on a minor league deal). Makita cleared waivers and has since been outrighted back to the minor leagues.
To give credit where credit is due, Makita did make the most of his very limited role after the All-Star break. In 8.1 post-All-Star innings, Makita did not give up a run, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out eight. He also experienced overall success against right-handed hitters. RHB hit just .208 and reached base at a low 24% clip against Makita. He walked two of the 75 RHP he faced and struck out 18.
With an expected heavy competition set for the bullpen in 2019, it is difficult to see Makita earning a roster spot out of spring training. We will have to wait and see what happens to Makita, but it appears that his role in 2019 will be that of an expensive Quad-A reliever.
Anyone making their way to Padres FanFest this weekend?