Mariners: Ariel Miranda has a critical case of gopheritis

ANAHEIM, CA. - JUNE 30: Ariel Miranda
ANAHEIM, CA. - JUNE 30: Ariel Miranda /

According to the Baseball Reference, Mariners starter Ariel Miranda is lucky to have a 4.15 ERA despite a 1.15 WHIP. Why? Because of a severe case of gopheritis.

Before we delve into Mariners starter Ariel Miranda’s strange 2017 so far, a primer: I define “gopheritis” as a pitching disease that causes one to give up a large number of home runs to opposing hitters. The term is from when you were playing baseball in your backyard as a kid and when someone hit a home run, you had to “go for it” or “go after it” to retrieve your ball.

Indeed, Miranda has already given up 20 home runs in 104 innings so far in 2017. In 2016, Miranda was stricken with gopheritis as well, allowing 12 home runs in 56 innings for the Mariners.

Miranda isn’t a strikeout pitcher. He relies on weak contact to get outs, but in his 150+ innings for the Mariners, over 13% of the fly balls he’s allowed have gone over the fence, an astounding rate.

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When Jerry Dipoto flipped Wade Miley for Miranda last season, he knew he was getting a fly-ball pitcher. Dipoto’s hope was probably that Miranda would keep enough balls in the park for his athletic outfield to make plays on them and get outs.

According to Baseball reference, the Mariners starter has a FIP over 5, almost a full run greater than his decent 4.15 ERA. While Miranda hasn’t been allowing baserunners, he has to limit the longball to avoid starts like the one he made against Kansas City on Wednesday. He and now James Paxton share the team lead with seven wins on the year, but Miranda’s relative luck could wear out any time. If he starts conceding baserunners at even a slightly larger clip, those runners will all score on home runs.

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At 1.7 home runs allowed per nine innings, Miranda must cut down on the hard contact (he’s allowing a 15.3 line drive percentage in 2017) and keep hitters more off-balance if he’s to pick up the slack for the pitching staff this season.