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Does José Urquidy have a Seattle Mariner problem?

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

José Urquidy started yesterday against the Mariners for the third time this season, and it did not end well as the right-hander wasn’t particularly sharp as he allowed four earned runs and a career-high four walks in 4 13 innings. While he did have ten whiffs — five via his four-seam fastball — Urquidy couldn’t again execute in a season where that has become a reoccurring topic. Overall, it was a game for him and the Astros to forget.

For Urquidy, this recent outing against the Mariners continues a season-long struggle. While his overall numbers don’t look great — 5.04 ERA, 4.93 FIP in 55 13 innings — it is interesting to note that most of his struggles in 2022 have occurred against the division rivals from the Pacific Northwest. Here are his numbers against the Mariners this season.

  • 13 innings
  • 75 total batters faced
  • 27 hits
  • 15 earned runs
  • 7 walks
  • 9 strikeouts

This season Urquidy has posted a 10.38 ERA in 13 innings against Seattle with a 12 percent strikeout rate — five percent lower than his season average of 17 percent — compared to a walk rate of 9.3 percent. However, when pitching against a club not named the Mariners, Urquidy’s numbers on the surface look better.

  • 42 13 innings
  • 178 total batters faced
  • 49 hits
  • 16 earned runs
  • 5 walks
  • 34 strikeouts

The right-hander has faced a combination of the Red Sox, Blue Jays (x2), Royals, Rangers, Twins, Angels, and Tigers, with Toronto being the only club of that group he has faced more than once. In those games, Urquidy’s numbers — 3.40 ERA, 19.1 percent strikeout rate, 2.8 percent walk rate — more closely resemble what we’ve seen from him in the past. That said, there are still some issues for Urquidy to sort out, no matter the opponent. For example, he continues to allow plenty of barrels and doesn’t strike out many opposing batters. His percentile rankings on Statcast illustrate as much, especially compared to last season.

2021

2022

However, those three lackluster starts against the Mariners bear some weight on his overall performance reflected above. Considering how we’re only in the first half of June, these figures could improve if the trend of non-Seattle performances holds. But if Urquidy continues to throw what feels like a higher rate of hittable pitches, the opponent may not matter as much as the season advances.

The pressing question now is whether these struggles can mostly be attributed to the Mariners, and could other teams start exploiting what they’ve found? If he is tipping pitches, how are the Mariners picking them up? Is there a subtle tell only they have noticed? To be clear, I am not suggesting illegal sign-stealing at all, but there are times when pitchers subtly give themselves away with set ups, deliveries, glove positions, etc. It is something I will be watching closing in Urquidy’s coming starts as it could help dictate how the rest of his season progresses.