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What to look for during Andrew Suárez’s start tonight

His last start wasn’t great, but he might’ve made an adjustment that will payoff very soon.

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

This probably should’ve gone up around noon or something. Oh well.

I spent a portion of my recap on Friday night gushing over Andrew Suarez’s pitching performance — all 4 runs and 6 hits in 4.1 innings of it — because I could see his plan of attack and thought he executed that plan fairly well.

He was going to use his fastball away to setup his curveball away to setup a 93-94 mph fastball in and just above the hitter’s hands.

It was wasn’t a great start, but it showed maturity. Major league pitchers must constantly adjust to how the league figures them out and must adjust in-game to suit what pitches are working for them on a given night. That mental dexterity seems like a crucial part of advancing a pitching career.

Maybe my novice scouting skills are overrating Suárez because of my perception of that start, but tonight I’ll be looking to see if he carries over the parts of the plan that worked.

Last Monday, The Athletic‘s Owen Poindexter wrote a little bit about Suárez in his Giants Analytics column, which followed his 7 shutout innings start against the Phillies that previous Saturday. His main point:

At the start of the year, [Suárez] was mostly fastballs and sliders. Since then, the trend has been fewer fastballs and more sinkers, with the slider holding steady and sometimes becoming the most thrown pitch, depending on the game. His gem on Saturday also had the highest use of his curveball — 16 percent — since his season debut. He’s become less predictable: what started as a clear distribution has become an almost even mix of his main three pitches.

Poindexter wondered if Suárez would follow the league-wide trend of throwing the fastball less and less. He did not.

via Brooks Baseball

He went right back to his fastball-slider combo. However, he did use that curveball 19% of the time; he threw it two more times against the Nationals than he did against the Phillies (16 to 14, respectively).

He threw his fastball the most he has all season, likely because he was confident in the power of his 94 mph and ability to spot it mostly where he wanted it to, for the most part.

Tonight, I’ll be looking to see if he changes his approach. He’s been pretty consistent in his slider use, the Marlins are in the bottom third of run value against fastballs, sliders, and curveballs, but they hit better as a team against lefties. Maybe he’ll deemphasize the fastball this time around, saving it for strikeouts, and instead rely on his changeup, slider, and curveball.