Who could have guessed Nick would be wearing that Padres uni sooner rather than later? - Photo Credit: Jeff Nycz/MiLB.com

In today’s Cup O’ Coffee we’ll take a long sip of the rich flavor that is Nick Margevicius finding success pitching in The Show after making the jump from A ball.

The biggest surprise of the young Padres season so far is a lefty pitcher who doesn’t possess huge velocity. He’s not a household name, and in fact some announcers are still having trouble pronouncing his last name. He was making hitters look silly in single A Fort Wayne and has made the massive leap to MLB…only to continue doing so.

Of course I’m referring to Nick Margevicius (mar-GAH-vih-chus, if you haven’t heard).

The surprise addition to the Padres starting five was fully expected to be a fill-in until either one of Cal Quantrill or Logan Allen was ready to make the step up from AAA. Many of us on Twitter and around the fanbase expected the 22-year-old to scuffle mightily on the big stage and maybe…just maybe provide a few neat moments during a short audition. Let’s see what the kid can do, right?

Nick Margevicius is doing it.

In 3 starts the native Ohioan possesses a sterling 1.69 ERA, good for 25th in all of MLB among starting pitchers. Among the many surprises the lefty has delivered is a 12:1 K/BB ratio in his 16 innings pitched. Margevicius profiles much the same as his fellow starting pitcher (and interestingly, fellow Ohioan) Eric Lauer: control and pitch mix without the premium velocity though Lauer is capable of throwing a faster (94) fastball. Margevicius’ heater scrapes 90 at best. So why is one lefty enjoying more success than the other?

The Numbers

There are a few variables to look at which might help explain things.

Here is your small sample size alert.

Margevicius is certainly taking advantage of his stellar infield defense and may be enjoying a bit of luck thanks to that left side. With a 50% ground ball rate and a 56.8% pull hit percentage, Nick is placing the balls that end up in play (93% of his pitches in the strike zone make contact) in the sure-handed gloves of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. Nick’s 3.79 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) versus his 1.69 ERA indicates some luck alongside the .167 BABIP though the high ground ball rate alongside the defense should continue to serve Margevicius well.

Lauer, on the other hand, is simply not offering up as many grounders to his defense (38% GB rate) and is suffering from an inflated FB/HR rate of 14.3%, which…is not good. Margevicius’ FB/HR rate is also high (13.3%) but is tempered by his GB rate. Eric’s FIP of 4.75 is lining up with his current ERA of 4.76. Though neither Eric nor Nick are strikeout pitchers at the MLB level, Eric is allowing more free passes per game (2.65 BB/9) than Nick (0.56 BB/9) at this juncture. Simply put, Margevicius pitches to contact (with a strikeout being a bonus) and at least half of the time, that contact is a grounder. Eric also pitches to contact but sometimes issues a walk and the contacted balls are falling into play at a higher rate (.280 BABIP).

With each pitcher only making 3 starts so far it’s totally acceptable to look at the above numbers and claim small sample size. You’ll have to remember Lauer’s outing against Arizona served to inflate his numbers and made Zach Greinke feel better.

It will take more starts to see just how Margevicius does against more daunting teams than the Giants and Cardinals. Even though some normalization is expected and Nick may eventually run into some hard knocks, it’s definitely fun to watch a young talent make such a big leap to the bigs and find early success. Here’s hoping for much more as the season wears on.

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