Lewis bolsters ROY bid; Sheff closing in

September 20th, 2020

While understandably is getting most of the attention for American League Rookie of the Year Award consideration this season, there is another Mariner who deserves to be part of the conversation as well.

delivered another strong start in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Padres, and the 24-year-old southpaw is now 4-3 with a 3.75 ERA in nine starts in his own fine rookie campaign. Sheffield threw six innings of one-run ball and is 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA in his past seven outings.

Lewis appears to be the front-runner for the AL honor with just eight games remaining, and he bolstered his case with his 11th home run, a 403-foot blast leading off the fifth.

Though Lewis has cooled in September, going 9-for-51 with three homers in 15 games, he’s still posted a strong .286/.380/.484 line with 28 RBIs on the season, and he made another nice catch in center field in Saturday’s game when he charged in to snare a low liner in the eighth against Manny Machado.

Luis Robert of the White Sox figures as Lewis’ primary challenger in the ROY battle, but he’s gone 6-for-58 (.103) with one home run in 16 games in September and his slash line has dropped to .235/.294/.464 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs.

Mariners manager Scott Servais sees little debate in that battle.

“Kyle played a really good defensive game in center field, made a couple big outs for us and had the nice diving catch,” Servais said. “He shows up every night. It’s so much fun to watch him hit and have him put it over the fence, but it’s the other things he’s doing to help contribute. He’s learning so much about himself. I absolutely think he deserves to be Rookie of the Year. He does something to help you win every day.”

As for Sheffield?

“Sheff continues to add on to his breakout season,” Servais said. “He did an awesome job tonight. I can’t say enough about the growth he’s had and the strides he’s taken here moving forward. It’s now the confidence every time he takes the hill he’s expecting to go deep in the ballgame and really give us a chance to win.”

Sheffield leaned more on his changeup early on Saturday, throwing nine in the first inning and 21 in his six frames, compared to 19 sliders to offset his 58 fastballs, per Statcast. He’s typically used mostly a fastball/slider combo, but he continues developing and growing as he goes.

“This year has been a big year for me as far as figuring myself out, figuring out where I stand,” Sheffield said. “Not really trying to be the overpowering pitcher that I was coming up in the Minors with the fastball/slider dominance. I’m just trying to get out there and execute and let the defense play behind me.”

Two former Padres figured prominently in Saturday’s victory as well. Catcher Luis Torrens hit a two-run double and second baseman Ty France had an RBI single to help Seattle snap a four-game skid.

The Mariners remain three games back of Houston in the chase for the No. 2 spot in the American League West and three back of the Blue Jays for the final AL Wild Card spot, at 23-29.