Drew Pomeranz threw his four-seam fastball 32 times in his season debut on Monday against the Dodgers, averaging 92.2 mph with it. He hasn’t averaged 92 mph with his four-seam fastball since 2015. Yes, it’s just one start, and over the long arc of the season, that average is sure to drop, and it might not matter at all because in his All-Star stretch from 2016-2017, it was in the 91 mph range, but in terms of the Giants striking gold with a reclamation project of sorts, Pomeranz’s debut was very encouraging.
This afternoon, he’ll be facing a Rays team that, in a very small sampling, hasn’t been very good against left-handed pitching: .569 OPS in 66 plate appearances. Last season, in 1,682 plate appearances, they had a .740 OPS, which, creepily, was the same OPS they had against right-handed pitching (albeit in nearly 4 times as many plate appearances). Anyway, here’s the Rays’ lineup:
Yandy Díaz is 6-2, 215 lbs and looks like this out of uniform:
Let us admire the chutzpah of the computer dictating the Rays’ lineup to manager Kevin Cash.
Meanwhile, Rays’ starter Yonny Chirinos is 1) actually a starter and not an opener and 2) has a cool name. I’m not sure if it’s Chirinos that’s setting it apart or if pairing Yonny with any surname will do. Let’s try it out: Yonny Smith? Cool. Yonny Stephenson? Not terrible. Yonny Murphy? No, makes no sense. Hmm... Bryan Chirinos, though... that’s way better.
Chirinos (Yonny, not Bryan) struck out six Astros in seven innings last Sunday and allowed only two hits — one of them a home run to Jake Marisnick, whom I was startled to discover was still on the Houston roster; but, he’s right-handed, which means the Giants’ lineup has room to work.
It’s interesting that Yangervis Solarte has been so firmly regulated to the bench and Parra’s getting such an extended look when you consider that Solarte has been a little bit better than Parra from 2016-2018. They have the same slugging percentage and the same number of games over that span (.728 and 359), but Solarte has more than twice the number of home runs and a better walk rate (6.1% to 4.9%).
Adding him to this lineup wouldn’t suddenly make it formidable, but — oh wait, I just looked at the numbers. A .523 OPS in 85 career plate appearances against the Rays (although two home runs and 8 walks to 14 strikeouts) suggests they’ve got a really strong book against him. And, in that sense, it’s probably fair to want Parra’s defense in left instead.