Now, I'm not saying Austin Riley isn't a good player, but he has been struggling as of late. He is kind of doing the opposite of what Ozuna did. Started off the season extremely hot and has struggled a bit in the last month or so. Austin's first 16 games were impressive as he had a line of .322/.417/.509 with a .925 OPS.
Something changed after the Padres series as over the last 24 games, he's batting .200 with 10 walks and a whopping 31 strikeouts. Riley has really struggled with laying off breaking pitches and just cannot seem to get in a groove. It's his first year of the 10-year, $212 million extension he signed in the off-season.
It's been really hard to watch him hit the last month but as he's shown in the past, he will make the nescesary adjustments and get back on track. It's just hard to see that at the moment. The strikeouts are racking up for Riley as he has the ninth most in all of Major League Baseball at the time of this piece with 50 of them.
I think if he can cut down on the strikeouts and start working counts again, we will see the Austin Riley we've all come to expect again. I think it's okay for fans to be a little bothered by Austin's performance lately as we all know just how good he can be.
This is one player that I don't think many fans expected to be disappointed in this early in the season but A.J. Minter has really struggled this season. Many thought he was struggling due to being out of his normal role and having to assume the closer role with Iglesias out. However, with Iglesias back, the struggles have just continued for the left-hander.
Through 20 games, Minter is 2-5 and has an ERA of 8.05, a FIP of 3.09, and a .392 BAbip. I don't know if he's tipping his pitches or if teams are just taking good approaches against A.J. this season. It appears it's a struggle with consistency with his command and he just hasn't done well in those clutch moments as fans are used to.
Being a bullpen pitcher is one of the toughest jobs in baseball as you are thrust into high leverage moments more often. It's easy for things to turn around and go your way just as easily as they can fall apart. In high leverage outings, according to Baseball Reference, opposing teams are batting .375 against Minter in 2023.
It does appear that the inning correlates to A.J. being successful in his outings. In the 7th inning, his ERA is 20.25 and teams are batting .500 against him but that is just a small sample size of two games. In the 8th, which he's pitched in 4 games so far, teams are only batting .231 against him with a 2.70 ERA.
The 9th inning is the one he's appeared in the most which is 15 games and teams are batting .281 against him and Minter's ERA is 8.16 in that inning. So, clearly, something works a little better for Minter in the setup role even if it is just a small sample size for 2023.
Over his career, the eighth inning has been the best for Minter with a 3.01 ERA, and the opponent's batting average sits at just .245 but his .352 BAbip is still a little high. I'm sure Minter is well aware of how awfully he is performing and I feel like he will find a way to get himself back to form. He's too talented to not get things turned around.
Hopefully this post gives some insight into what exactly is going on with these players. These are three players who are extremely talented and have the ability at any moment to be one of the best in the league at their positions. However, baseball is a game that will humble even the best of the best. It's all in how resilient you are and understanding how important it is to make adjustments at a moments notice.
Should fans give up on these players? No, I don't think so. However, I do understand why fans would be frustrated with how poorly they've performed this year. Here's to hoping they all get things turned around sooner than later.
What are your thoughts on these players performances lately? Is there anyone else that you would have added to the list? Let us know in the comments.