NEW YORK — Luis Torrens admitted that pitchers have quickly figured out what he’d been doing so right, which is hitting the ball to right, since returning June 15 from Class AAA Tacoma.
For the first 27 games of that return, Torrens was putting up a .275/.359/.637 slash line with a double, a triple, 10 homers, 19 RBI, 16 runs scored, 12 walks and 27 strikeouts. He was pummeling baseballs to right field with power and consistency.
But in his past seven games going into Friday night, he has an .083/.214/.125 slash line with a just two hits — a single and a double — in his past 28 plate appearances with four walks and seven strikeouts. Per MLB Statcast, his balls in play have just a 91 mph exit velocity during that time with only one ball in play hit well enough to be considered “on the barrel.”
“They’ve adjusted,” Torrens said. “I know it. I no longer get the fastball away anymore. It’s always fastballs up and in or fastballs in. But that’s the fun part about playing baseball is you have to make adjustments every day and every series. It’s always different.”
His manager has noticed as well.
“He swung the bat really good and was on a real hot streak for a while,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s cooled off a little bit now. They’re pitching him a little bit differently. They’re paying more attention to him. That’s what happens when you start getting on a streak here in the big leagues.”
When Torrens was sent down to Tacoma after an abysmal start to the 2021 season, posting a .178/.219/.300 slash line in 29 games with 25 strikeouts, he focused not so much on swing changes but rediscovering an approach that focused on his strengths, which is hitting the ball hard to right-center and right field.
“It was my mentality,” he said. “I worked on my strengths, and that’s what I have to keep doing now. I had to get back to swinging at pitches I hit good.”
Many a right-handed hitter has tried and failed to find results hitting the ball to right field with power. Some players just don’t have the swing fundamentals to do it.
“That’s my natural swing,” he said. “When I’m not hitting well, I’m out on my front foot and reaching. I need to let the ball travel.”
Five and thrive
Admittedly, lefty Tyler Anderson would’ve liked to face the Yankees collection of mashers with fewer runners on base, but he still managed to give the Mariners five innings Thursday night in his second start since being acquired in a trade from the Pirates to fill the open spot in the starting rotation. Had Joey Gallo, who doubled twice off him, not been leading off the sixth, Anderson probably could’ve pitched another inning if needed.
It might not seem like a big deal, but the Mariners, who have suffered through far too many bullpen starts this season, will happily take five innings pitched, two runs allowed on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Anderson has pitched at least five innings in all 20 of his starts this season. And while traditionalists will lament that a starting pitcher working five innings is being celebrated, given the number of injuries to the Mariners’ pitching staff and around baseball, being able to take the ball every fifth day has value.
“Tyler’s been fantastic, and he’s exactly what we needed,” Servais said. “We needed to pick up a starter, somebody to give us a chance to get deeper in these ballgames. That’s exactly what he’s done. I like him. I like his stuff. I like his competitiveness.”
The quantity of Anderson’s work is beneficial for the Mariners and for him when he heads into free agency after the season.
“I think it’s just throwing strikes,” Andersons said. “And staying there, sometimes it’s not always pretty. But I think if you continue to throw strikes, eventually guys hit that ball at guys. It’s just staying in there and competing.”
With a hit in his first plate appearance Friday night, Abraham Toro has now reached base in all 11 games he’s played with the Mariners. He came into the game with a .438/.500/.813 slash line with 14 total hits, including three doubles and three homers, along with five RBI, eight runs scored, three walks and three strikeouts.
Coming into Friday’s game, the Yankee hitters ranked first in MLB averaging 4.06 pitches per plate appearance. The Mariners rank second with 4.01 pitches per plate appearance.