Drayer: Mariners committed to giving Vogelbach time to figure out LHPs
MILWAUKEE – A few Mariners notes following their Game 1 win in Milwaukee:
As I have mentioned on air several times, Daniel Vogelbach has gotten the attention of others around the league when we travel. Reporters often ask us in the press box, “Just who is this guy?” There is a definite curiosity about him.
Tuesday at Miller Park, a local reporter asked Mariners manager Scott Servais why Vogelbach was having a breakthrough season now. Servais’ answer was simple: He is finally getting playing time. It was time the Mariners had committed to giving him when they included him on the 25-man roster out of spring training, but time he would not necessarily get right away. With Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnación on the roster at the start of the season, Vogelbach would not be the immediate priority. Servais had a few conversations with Vogelbach early on to assure him that his time would come. It has, and they are continuing to get looks.
While the reviews for Vogelbach have been good and his 148 wRC+ is currently 10th best in baseball, he often sat against left-handed pitching in the first two months of the season. That is changing as he has been playing nearly every day since Encarnación was traded to the Yankees. While we have seen a few big hits come off lefties, Vogelbach’s overall numbers against southpaws this season (in still a small sample size) have not been good: .140/.246/.263 for a .509 OPS.
I asked Servais what he and his coaching staff have seen from Vogelbach versus left-handers.
“He hasn’t found exactly a consistent approach that’s going to work for him yet,” Servais said. “He’s tried a couple of different things. He’s well aware that’s his ticket to being an everyday player. You don’t have to kill ’em, but you have got to survive against the lefties. Knowing Vogey and his ability, his baseball IQ, his ability to understand his swing, I think he’ll figure it out. We’re going to find out. He’s going to play.”
Vogelbach has been as good as anyone against righties, ranking fourth in all of baseball in wRC+ behind only Christian Yelich, Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger. Lefties have been a different story. He hit decently against them in his three Triple-A seasons but clearly is still making adjustments at the big league level.
“It’s trial and error,” said Servais. “Your approach, doing something different mechanically with your stance. There’s different things you can try. There’s certainly talking and not just left-handed hitters on our team but other left-handed hitters around the league that’s he’s really close with and what they have done over the years. He’s working through it.”
Most importantly, Vogelbach will continue to be given the opportunity to work through it.
“Why not?” said Servais. “That’s the whole idea. He’ll play.”
Calling a good game
After Tuesday’s game, both Mariners starter Marco Gonzales and reliever Austin Adams offered unsolicited praise for their catcher Omar Narváez.
“Kudos to Omar. The only pitch I shook him on was a homer. That’s on me. And he let me know about that,” said Gonzales.
“Omar did a great job sticking to the game plan, made a great pitch at the right time and that was it,” said Adams of striking out Yelich, the reigning NL MVP, in a critical point of the ballgame.
Yelich, who leads baseball with 29 home runs, went 0 for 5 Tuesday night – just the second time all season Yelich has gone hitless in five at-bats.
Mitch on the trip
Mitch Haniger is traveling with the team, which was a bit of a surprise. On the injured list since June 7, he’s been cleared for light work, which includes getting out on the field to take fly balls in the outfield. He could progress to swinging a bat by the end of the week. No timetable has been put on his return but he does appear to be progressing quicker than expected.