The Giants have played twenty-seven games in April, and just like you expected, Jean Machi is leading the charge in games (14), pitcher wins (4), ERA (0.66), fWAR (0.2) among qualified relievers. Yes, Jeremy Affeldt has a 0.00 ERA through 7.1 IP, but he doesn’t hit the qualifier leaderboard just yet. As long as he avoids [insert ridiculous way to injure yourself], he’ll be just fine and get on the board. How is Machi doing it? Well, with a fastball-slider-split combo to RHH and two-pitching LHH with a fastball-split set. As a RHP, Machi is probably doing better against RHH, right?
Wrong, I suppose. LHH have a 2 OPS+? A .200 OBP? Machi is proving to be money so far, even with his BB% just being at a career-high at 6.0% and his BABIP dipping back low to .243 after being .238 and .301 the years before. His left on base percentage is an absurd 91.7%, while his ground ball rate is a career-high 57.1% (40.9%, 54.4% in 2012, 2013, respectively), and he is owning it when he’s ahead of a hitter:
Apr 3, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Jean Machi against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no breaking news to see a pitcher’s numbers aren’t better when a batter is ahead, and a .350 OPS against is pretty nice. Machi was slowly easing his way into the 7th inning set-up spot when Affeldt was out, and has made seven appearances in the seventh inning this season already, and only two of those times were the Giants losing. He gave the Giants five outs when he entered in the sixth inning against Cleveland. He’s pitched in the eighth five times, with the Giants down four times, and once in the tenth inning in Colorado, the game of the Hector Sanchez grand slam.
This small sample size theater may give you the impression that Jean Machi is doing really well lately, and it should (obvious point is obvious). Should it convince you that Jean Machi is an important part of the Giants bullpen while Heath Hembree sits in Triple-A Fresno? I don’t know, but the Giants have a sneaky good bullpen with the second-best bullpen ERA in the bigs, and Jean Machi has been an important part of that. Keep an eye on how Jean Machi is used, Giants fans. The leader in appearances for this Giants team may be gaining favor once the Giants get a lead, and if Jean Machi is a good reliever while the other established relievers are carrying the team in other high leverage situations, it’s going to be fun when the Giants are have more runs on the scoreboard than the opposition.