Player: Seattle Mariners RHP Brandon Maurer
Game: San Francisco Giants vs. Seattle Mariners; March 19th in Peoria Arizona
Stat Line: 64 pitches – 42 strikes, 3 hits, 1 ER, 0 BB.
Brandon Maurer has a funky max-effort delivery where he uses a variety of arm-angles to add deception to his release. He does falloff noticeable to the first base side but appears to maintain his release point. He works very quickly and kept the Giants off-balance the first time through the order. However, the second time was not as successful as Torres, Blanco, Pence, Belt and Crawford were all on each pitch that Maurer threw.
He has a nice four-pitch-arsenal with his fastball sitting 89-92 while touching 93 four times. His slider was inconsistent but did flash plus on several occasions, giving hope that it could develop into a true swing and miss pitch. His changeup is an above-average pitch showing nice velocity separation with his fastball. In fact, he fooled Blanco badly in the first inning to notch a strikeout. He was unable to throw his curveball for strikes, but it did have nice shape with a consistent arm angle and speed to his other pitches.
When Maurer moved to the stretch, he did lose velocity off his fastball and sat 89-90.
Not only does Maurer work quickly but he also throws strikes. I wouldn’t call him a pitch-to-contact pitcher but he’s not going to attempt to strikeout everyone either. His 7.65 K/9 in 2012 seems to be about right based on how he attacks hitters. The good news is that both his slider and changeup are good enough to get batters to swing and miss when needed.
While only 22-years-old, Maurer knows how to pitch and has the ability to effectively change speeds by taking a little off his fastball when needed. What he doesn’t have is a true plus pitch. While I saw a couple of plus sliders and change-ups, those pitches were inconsistent resulting in an average to above-average total arsenal.
I was disappointed in his fastball velocity as I was expecting to see him sitting 92-94 and touching higher. Was the two MPH difference a result of Maurer still building arm strength for the season? If true, then the overall arsenal will tick-up as he pitches off his fastball well and that will only allow his secondary pitches to play up.
Based on this outing, I see a pitcher with a mid-rotation ceiling. However, if he can return to the fastball velocity he demonstrated in 2012, his ceiling might tick higher, but more importantly, his floor will rise considerably.
While there is talk of Maurer breaking camp with the team, I’m not sure how realistic that is given the options that the Mariners have at their disposal. However, if he does, he could be an interesting SafeCo only pitcher for 2013; providing slightly better than league average results.