Rays Prospects

Rays Winter Leagues Recap: No K’s, No Problem for Doug Mathis

By Robbie Knopf
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You have to go back to 2009 for the last time Doug Mathis managed a 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio at any level at which he pitched more than 6 innings. That is generally bad news for a pitcher, and it may not be a coincidence that 2010 was Mathis’ last year in the major leagues. However, Mathis’ altered approach has led him to a solid 3.96 ERA between Triple-A, Japan, and Korea the last four years, and his inability to miss bats has not hurt him so far in the Venezuelan Winter League either.

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Dominican Winter League: Gigantes del Cibao 11, Tigres del Licey 0

`Wilson Betemit had a nice game for Cibao, going 1 for 3 with a solo home run and a walk. He now has a .229/.326/.367 line in 126 plate appearances for Cibao, showing a little more plate discipline and a little less power from his 2014 stint in Durham. Betemit did hit 18 homers with the Bulls, but he finished the year with just a .694 OPS. He is going to need to start dominating Triple-A if he hopes to get back to the major leagues.

Mexican Pacific League: Venados de Mazatlán 10, Yaquis de Obregón 2

Believe it or not, Mazatlán actually only led this game 3-2 entering the 9th. Olmo Rosario helped them pull away as he drilled a 2-run double to make it a 6-2 game. That capped a 1-for-3 day for him with that big hit to go along with a walk and 2 runs scored. Rosario has started to cool off, but only on a relative basis–he still has a .263/.378/.421 line in his last 10 games.

Charros de Jalisco 13, Tomateros de Culiacán 6

Ali Solis and Russell Branyan both had solid games in the Tomateros’ loss, with Solis going 1 for 4 with 2 RBI while Branyan went 1 for 2 with an RBI and 3 walks. Solis’ first RBI came on a single in the second inning and actually gave Culiacán a 2-0 lead before Jalisco rallied for 8 runs.

Branyan, meanwhile, is off to a nice start for the Tomateros as he is now 2 for 7 with a double, 2 RBI, and 4 walks without a strikeout. I remember Branyan having an even longer streak like this last year in the MPL, and he finished the year with a strong 34-30 strikeout to walk ratio to accompany an .802 OPS. While Branyan’s hopes of returning to the big leagues are fading, there’s a good chance that he can be an impact player moving forward for Culiacán.

Venezuelan Winter League: Tiburones de La Guaira 10, Aguilas del Zulia 2

This game was no particularly close for long, and Alex Cabrera and Cesar Suarez were among the players who made sure it was that way. Cabrera went 1 for 5 with a 2-run single that gave the Tiburones a 5-1 advantage in the 5th inning.

Suarez, meanwhile, went 1 for 5 with a stolen base and 2-run single in the 8th to cap the scoring. Suarez is playing out of his mind right now, hitting to an insane .522/.542/.826 line with 4 doubles, a homer, and 8 RBI during his current 7-game hitting streak. This was his first game without multiple hits since November 30th.

Jason Pridie also appeared in the game for Zulia, going 0 for 3 with 2 walks. He now has 3 walks in his last 2 games after just 1 in his previous 12.

Tigres de Aragua 8, Bravos de Margarita 5

Doug Mathis had a nice start as he earned the win for the Tigres, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was a decent 7-3. Mathis didn’t pitch at all from a November 20th start to a relief appearance on December 6th, but he showed no ill effects as he started just three days after the latter game.

Overall, Mathis has delivered an interesting season for Aragua, going 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 8 starts, a relief appearance, and 42 innings pitched, but also managing just a 16-13 strikeout to walk ratio. Mathis’ ERA is fourth in the league among qualifying pitchers and interestingly enough, two of the other top five have strikeout to walk ratio below 2-to-1 as well. Is regression coming for these three pitchers, or is their approach sustainable in a league like the VWL?

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