Good News from the Weekend
Sooooo, the Mariners had a hard time on the opening road trip. Today’s 9-2 loss was disheartening, and I don’t want to dwell on it (Snell got hammered, end of analysis). The problem of course is that there just isn’t a whole lot else to dwell on; the season’s too young, and you can only replay the Gutierrez catch from Saturday so many times (I’ve had to recharge my iPhone solely because I was replaying that highlight too much). If you’re feeling frustrated with the team in general, or if you’re fed up with the latest bizarre miscue (TWO catchers interference calls in one game? What?), think of the following:
1) Chad Cordero’s rehab is going quite nicely, thank you. Last year, I put Cordero in the same category as Jeff Zimmerman – nice stories of ex-All Stars who were attempting comebacks, but who faced overwhelming odds. Well, The Chief’s looking pretty good. The sample sizes are tiny, but visually, Cordero’s throwing extremely well. He’s getting strikeouts and ground balls (in 3 IP, he’s yet to allow a ball in the air), and he actually touched 90MPH today. Cordero averaged 90.1 MPH with his deceptive FB in 2007, and he’s getting surprisingly close to that benchmark. He could replace his ex-teammate Jesus Colome, though the M’s need a spot for Jack Hannahan, and thus Cordero may need to wait.
2) The West Tennessee rotation has looked outstanding, and consensus top prospect Michael Pineda hasn’t pitched yet (he gets the start tomorrow evening). Today was Mauricio Robles turn, and he went 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball with 5 strikeouts and 6 groundouts to 2 air outs. He threw 82 pitches and seemed to tire a bit in the 4th and 5th innings, but the result was encouraging for a guy who’d looked great in the spring. Some fans may look at the line and complain that Robles looks like another Erik Bedard, but the rest of us will rejoice that Robles’ results look like another Erik Bedard. My condolences to Jacksonville, who, having faced Robles today, will attempt to figure out Michael Pineda tomorrow. Woooo Pineda day!
3) Luke French’s change-up appears more effective this year than in 2009. After a remarkably easy looking start against a righty-heavy line-up on Friday, everyone was talking about French’s change. You’ll recall that French’s outpitch in 2009 was his slider – a pitch that was 5.3 runs above average last year (1.93 runs per 100 pitches). The slider helped him hold lefties to 3.60 FIP, along with an 18:5 K:BB ratio. But his mushy change-up allowed righties to pummel him: his FIP against righties was 6.08. That’s why it was notable that French held a line-up of 7 righties scoreless on Friday night, and why it was so encouraging to see French use his change to set up his below average fastball – he got several swinging strikes on fastballs after starting hitters off with low change-ups. This profile still faces long odds in the majors (where hitters are less likely to be late on 89 MPH fastballs because they’ve seen a few 79 MPH change-ups), but if French can keep righties off-balance, he looks a lot more like Jason Vargas, and while that’s less good than looking like Felix Hernandez, it means he could add some value to the M’s in 2010.