Phillies: Finding what’s going wrong for Seranthony Dominguez

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 01: Seranthony Dominguez #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers at Citizens Bank Park on May 1, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 01: Seranthony Dominguez #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers at Citizens Bank Park on May 1, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Despite his underlying numbers remaining reasonably consistent, Seranthony Dominguez hasn’t been the same pitcher he was last year for the Phillies.

Seranthony Dominguez had his first scoreless outing in over a week Wednesday afternoon, closing the door on the Cardinals after eight shutout innings from Jerad Eickhoff. It was just his second scoreless outing out of his last five appearances for the Phillies.

Dominguez now has a 5.02 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and .271 opposing batting average in 16 outings so far this year. All of these numbers are significantly worse than last year. When trying to find the source of these poor results, some issues arise.

The first place to look is Dominguez’s strikeout and walk numbers. While Dominguez is striking out slightly fewer batters (32.0% in 2018 vs. 29.7% in 2019), his walk rate has dropped considerably (9.5% to 6.3%). Walks were a massive part of Dominguez’s late-season issues last year, so removing those a positive sign.

More from Phillies News

Dominguez’s slight drop in strikeouts could be attributed to a slightly slower fastball and slightly less movement on his slider. According to Brooks Baseball, his average fastball velocity has dropped from 98.55 mph to 97.66 mph.

Dominguez’s slider had 3.32 inches of horizontal movement away from right-handed hitters and dropped -30.12 inches including gravity last year.

However, those numbers have decreased to 2.74 inches and -28.96 inches this year, meaning it is breaking about 1.3 inches less overall. It’s not a huge gap, but it’s enough to make a difference between a swing and miss and foul tip or a foul tip and barrelled ball.

As expected with fewer walks and strikeouts, more balls enter play. Opposing hitter’s contact rate rose from 66.4% this year to 71.2% this year. Despite Dominguez leaving fewer pitchers in the zone (50.1% vs. 46.0%), hitters are still swinging more often (46.7% vs. 53.7%), leading to the increase in contact.

More from That Balls Outta Here

While Dominguez is allowing more contact, it’s still mostly the same kind of contact compared to last year. His line drive, ground ball, and fly ball percentages are nearly identical as well as his soft, medium, and hard contact rates. The average exit velocity against Dominguez is down 0.9 mph according to MLB Statcast. His skill-interactive ERA, which adjusts for batted balls, is precisely the same as last year.

Despite generating similar contact, opposing hitters have a .368 batting average on balls in play against Dominguez. Out of 185 qualified relievers, that mark is 17th-highest. This comes despite him ranking in the 89th percentile in hard-hit rate and 82nd in expected weighted on-base average.

The only notable difference I can find for balls hit off Dominguez between this year and last year is with home runs. Currently, 16.7% of the fly balls he has surrendered have turned into home runs. However, when you consider he has allowed two home runs on 12 fly balls and his overall fly ball rate is just 30%, it’s not enough to pinpoint that as a humongous flaw.

All in all, there hasn’t been that much going wrong for Dominguez this year besides runs being scored. Obviously, that’s all that really matters at the end of the day, but there isn’t a strong reason to suggest why it’s happening.

Next. Top five moments of Ryan Howard's career. dark

While Dominguez’s ERA remains fairly high, his 3.34 fielding-independent pitching suggests his ERA should fall as the year goes on. This is reinforced by his other underlying numbers, especially his batted ball rates. For now, all he can do is keep pitching and hoping for better results.