Tyler Mahle pitched his way through Double-A and Triple-A in the 2017 season. He posted a 2.06 ERA in 144.1 innings with 30 walks and 138 strikeouts between his time spent in Pensacola and Louisville. That performance earned the then 22-year-old a call up at the end of the season to the Major Leagues. He made his debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 27th.
After joining the Cincinnati Reds in the Major Leagues, Tyler Mahle would make four starts in the 2017 season. The results were a bit of a mixed bag. His ERA was strong, posting a 2.70 mark in 20.0 innings. What was unlike the past, though,was his walk rate. The young righty walked 11 batters in that stretch with just 14 strikeouts. Known to throw tons of strikes, that was a very high walk rate.
The 2018 season, at least in the Majors, already has resulted in more innings thrown than the 2017 campaign did. After his start on Sunday against Minnesota he’s thrown 33.1 innings for the Reds over six starts. The walk rate is down to where you would expect it given his past. He’s given up 11 free passes, and one of those was intentional. He’s also struck out 38 batters. That, however, is a bit surprising. While we are only looking at six starts, it’s his best strikeout rate per 9-innings pitched at any level in his professional career.
Over the last three starts he’s really picked up the amount of swinging strikes. In the first three starts of the year he had a combined 22 swinging strikes. In the next three that number is at 40. That stretch of three games is better than any set of three consecutive games he had in the minors last year in terms of swinging strikes. His best stretch was 37 from May 8th through May 18th.
The one issue that has gotten to Tyler Mahle in 2018 has been the home run. He entered the day with a National League worst seven home runs allowed. He didn’t allow a home run on Sunday but still leads the league in homers given up (five American League pitchers have allowed more – including an incredibly eight by Wilmer Font in just 12.1 innings for Oakland). His home run per fly ball ratio is incredibly high, and while it would seem like it would almost have to decline as the season goes along, we’ve seen in the past few seasons that somehow magically for Reds pitchers that it hasn’t gone down nearly as much as expected.
Aside from the home run rate, which if nothing else, should creep its way downward some, Tyler Mahle has had a successful start to the 2018 season. He’s showing an ability to miss bats better than he did in the minors, his walk rate is down from where it was last year in the Majors, and he’s gotten his ERA after Sunday’s game closer to league average.