Drayer: Why the Mariners aren’t starting Daniel Vogelbach every day

May 8, 2019, 5:18 PM
Mariners DH Daniel Vogelbach has been sitting against left-handed starting pitchers. (Getty)...
Mariners DH Daniel Vogelbach has been sitting against left-handed starting pitchers. (Getty)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about why Daniel Vogelbach is not starting every day for the Mariners.

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He’s appeared in 31 of the Mariners 38 games so far this season, but not all of those games were starts. There are a number of factors that go into determining who out of the three-person mix at first base and designated hitter gets those starts.

With the team hoping to be able to move Edwin Encarnación and Jay Bruce before the trade deadline, both are going to get significant playing time. With Ryon Healy now at third base, Encarnación is seen as the best defensive option at first base. That coupled with his production is going to give him priority.

There is also the issue of handedness. Vogelbach has had few starts against left-handers, but at some point he will need to be seen against both righty and lefty starters on a consistent basis. Could that time be soon?

“It depends who the lefty starter is,” Mariners manager Scott Servais answered in the pregame media session Wednesday in New York. “There are some who pitch a little differently, some into different parts of the strike zone that Vogelbach handles better than others. It’s hit and miss, but a lot of it is what kind of lefty is it, how does he attack lefty hitters. That plays into it.”

In a ‘step-back’ year with a rather clunky roster, there is much that is weighed before Servais’ lineup card is made out. In the case of Vogelbach, holding him out of starting lineups against lefties been about both his development and the game at hand, according to Servais.

“You want to put players in a position where they have a chance to succeed and keep them going in a good spot versus just firing them out there in something that doesn’t on paper look like a great matchup,” he said. “So you are doing the right thing there. There are times to let them run, and it doesn’t matter who is out there. They are bringing in a nasty left-handed reliever and Vogey is swinging the bat well? Yeah, we will let him hit. What are the other options? That plays into it a lot, as well. It’s part of the development. I think Vogey can hit, I think Vogey knows the strike zone, but as far as starting against left-handed pitching, sometimes it matters what the other options are and, like I said, how the left-handed starter gets them out.”

To date, Vogelbach has had only 47 plate appearances in the big leagues against lefites, and the numbers are not strong in the very small sample size. While the roster may not be ideal right now, at some point this year the Mariners are going to need to see Vogelbach play every day. They are learning what he is against right-handed big league pitching, and they will need to see what he is against the lefties.

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Drayer: Why the Mariners aren’t starting Daniel Vogelbach every day