The Athletics are finally done playing the Mariners…for now. That means a new team comes to town, and that team happens to be the Royals. The Royals come to town having taken two of three from Teh Slegna. Luis Mendoza (above) is slated to take the mound in the first game of a three games series. We will take a Pitch f/x look at Mendoza and put together a plan of attack and look at how the line up should be, in my opinion. Let us get started, shall we?
6’3″ 235 lbs.
29 years old
Pitches: Four-seam Fastball, Sinker, Curve, Change
Quick Scouting Report: At his size of 6-foot-3 235 pounds, one would think Mendoza would be a bit of a power pitcher. In fact, he is more of a right handed Jason Vargas. He comes from a high 3/4rds arm slot, could almost be considered overhand. Out of the stretch he is slow to the plate. This is mainly caused by a long arm action. Hides the ball from righties fairy well, will show the ball to lefties.
At 29 Mendoza has bounced around the majors. Signed in 2006 by the Red Sox, he was part of trade that sent him to Texas that same year. In 2007 he made the jump from AA to the majors and saw most of his time from the bullpen while collecting one start. He did get 11 starts in 2008, but went 3-8 with at K/9 of nearly 5 and a BB/9 of nearly 4. Since then he’s been the picture of AAAA bouncing between AAA and the majors. While at AAA he his used as a starter, but in the majors he is a bullpen/six starter/long relief arm. His career BB:K is as close as 1:1 as your can get.
As I said above, Mendoza is a right-handed Vargas. He certainly does not have amazing stuff, but he wants you to hit his pitch. He favors his “sinker” (quotes intended) which averages 92 MPH. I put “sinker” because if there was ever a get-me-over sinker, it would be Mendoza’s. He uses it to keep the ball off the fat part of the bat and induce weak contact. When you see it, it looks more like a 92 MPH changeup. It will dive down, more than it will in. His fastball is his go to pitch when he is in negative counts and needs a strike. It averages 93 MPH, which favors the batter. It should be easy to sit on the sinker and react to the fastball. His curveball is big and loopy, tops out at 81, and loves to throw it to righties when he is ahead in the count. In fact, when he gets to 0-2 on RHH, that is what he will throw 95% of the time. His changeup is almost exclusively an pitch he will throw to lefties. At 83 MPH he does a good job of having his off speed pitches in that 7-10 MPH difference.
Mendoza does not have any glaring platoon splits. You can run a fairly normal lineup out there and not be affected. However, like Vargas, hitters should be looking to go the other way. If you can work the count in your favor you can guess with a high degree of certainty that you will get a fastball. If you are a left and down in the count, sit changeup. Righties, sit curveball.