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Austin Gomber has shown a wild pitch mix in his last three starts

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The last three outings from Austin Gomber have been a struggle.

Austin Gomber - 2021

Date Starts IP ERA FIP xFIP HR/FB
Date Starts IP ERA FIP xFIP HR/FB
Before 8/8 19 91 1/3 3.79 3.78 3.61 15.1%
After 8/8 3 13 2/3 8.56 7.99 6.61 19.2%

Gomber last pitched on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, allowing five earned runs to the Cubs and finishing one out shy of five innings. He took on the struggling D-Backs one start earlier, allowing three earned and calling it a day after the fifth. Before that, he allowed five earned to the electric Giants and only pitched four frames.

The lefty will toe the rubber in Texas this evening for his 23rd start of the year, but there is no telling what kind of arsenal he will use tonight after a heavy change in pitch selection:

Gomber’s two most-used pitches — fastball and slider — have spiked and plummeted this month. His pitch percentages may suggest he’s lost his identity on the mound, but the ball flight itself doesn’t seem to have changed all that much.

  • His spin rates on all four pitches were near identical to his season averages in his last start.
  • His velocity on all four was relatively stable as well (aside from a few sliders where he may have let it eat).
  • Horizontal and vertical break has remained relatively consistent across the board.

Gomber’s strikeout percentage did take a hit when he faced the Giants and Diamondbacks, but it quickly jumped up again after he punched out eight Cubs on Wednesday. Based on these figures, there aren’t any glaring metrics that suggest he’s lost touch with any one pitch.

We’ll instead have to look at the collective picture:

Austin Gomber - Last 10 Starts

Date Opp K% BB% HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP FIP
Date Opp K% BB% HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP FIP
2021-08-25 @CHC 36.4% 4.5% 5.79 0.333 1.71 0.400 8.74
2021-08-20 ARI 12.0% 12.0% 1.80 0.286 1.80 0.294 6.96
2021-08-13 @SFG 8.7% 13.0% 2.25 0.368 2.50 0.375 8.41
2021-08-07 MIA 39.1% 0.0% 0.00 0.217 0.83 0.357 0.16
2021-08-01 @SDP 33.3% 22.2% 0.00 0.571 6.00 1.000 3.16
2021-07-27 @LAA 28.0% 8.0% 1.50 0.217 1.17 0.267 4.00
2021-07-21 SEA 14.3% 4.8% 4.50 0.150 0.67 0.000 9.16
2021-06-19 MIL 11.1% 0.0% 0.00 0.444 2.00 0.500 2.16
2021-06-14 SDP 15.4% 0.0% 0.00 0.115 0.38 0.136 2.16
2021-06-09 @MIA 25.0% 0.0% 0.00 0.250 1.00 0.333 1.16
Season Averages 23.9% 7.5% 1.46 0.230 1.20 0.268 4.30

His walk percentage and WHIP on August 13 and 20 suggests a lack of command, and this could be the primary culprit for his recent struggles.

There can be a ton of noise when evaluating these kinds of stats on a game-by-game basis, but the general picture is suggesting Gomber hasn’t consistently found his stride since returning from the injured list on July 21.

In his last three starts, Gomber’s BABIP and FIP have exceeded his season average. The FIP increase shows that opponents have got the best of him when it comes to the three true outcomes (K, BB, HR). BABIP has been defined by Baseball Prospectus as “mostly a function of a pitcher’s defense and luck” as opposed to an inherent measure of skill, but when it jumps along with FIP, it can suggest that opponents have been able to find the pitch they are looking for a little more often. The harder a ball is put in play, the more likely it is to fall for a hit.

Austin Gomber - Last 10 Starts

Date Opp HardHit%
Date Opp HardHit%
2021-08-25 @CHC 38.5%
2021-08-20 ARI 27.8%
2021-08-13 @SFG 41.2%
2021-08-07 MIA 28.6%
2021-08-01 @SDP 75.0%
2021-07-27 @LAA 25.0%
2021-07-21 SEA 35.3%
2021-06-19 MIL 37.5%
2021-06-14 SDP 27.3%
2021-06-09 @MIA 26.7%
Season Averages - - - 33.9%

Gomber has shown signs of dominance in a few starts over this 10-game span, but a 32-day trip to the injured list can be enough to throw off a routine for continual success. A margin of error can be extremely small in the big leagues too, and based on recent showings, we appear to be seeing it with Gomber in real time.

He does get to face the worst wRC+ figure in the American League tonight, so perhaps it will serve as an opportunity for Gomber to hit his stride again. Despite getting the best of Germán Márquez with the longball on Monday night, Texas still ranks in MLB’s bottom third in home runs.

Gomber’s schedule isn’t too favorable moving forward, however, as his next presumed start will come on Sunday against the NL East-leading Braves.

Atlanta currently has the third-most homers in baseball, and this weekend could be a tough ticket for Gomber to return to his early-summer successes. Tonight in Texas might serve as a perfect primer at least, and we’ll see what pitch mix Gomber turns to before a return to elevation.

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Jesse Yomtov of USA Today highlights the high-stakes Dodgers-Giants series coming up this weekend. The Rockies have found themselves playing a key role in the NL West, having just won two of three against the Dodgers over the weekend. Colorado will host the division-leading Giants for three games next week, but not before the two division leaders throw down this weekend.

On the farm

Frank Duncan was lights out for the Isotopes in his 17th start of the season. He tossed five innings and allowed one earned run to the Round Rock lineup, punching out eight in the process.

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