Game 126 – Mariners at Indians
Vargas vs. Carmona, 4:05pm
After another painful loss to complete a painful sweep, the M’s head to Cleveland to face a reeling Indians team. The Tribe were just swept by Detroit and are now 4.5 games back in the AL Central. When they traded for Ubaldo Jimenez, they were a game over .500 in a mediocre division (no team had a positive run differential at the deadline) and only 2.5 games back. They’ve since gone 9-9 and fallen further behind as Jimenez has yielded 21 runs in 21 innings with Cleveland.
Fausto Carmona’s K:BB ratio has improved this year, but he’s still nowhere near the pitcher he was in 2007. The problem this year has been home runs, as he’s already given up more this year than he did in over 210 innings last year. HIs ground ball rate is very good, he’s limited the free passes after losing all sense of the strike zone in 2009, and he doesn’t have bad platoon splits. And yet he’s got an RA of over 5.5 and an rWAR of -0.9 (his fWAR is 0.7). Carmona’s essentially a walking embodiment of pitcher inconsistency: since 2007, he’s had one great season (6.6 rWAR), one average one (2.0 rWAR), and three below-replacement seasons.
Jason Vargas has followed up a frustrating July, when he had a Carmona-esque HR problem despite a good K:BB with an unambiguously terrible August. His fastball velocity is down a bit in August compared to where it was from April through June, but not enough to worry about. His big problem has been his change-up. From April-June, he got whiffs on over 15% of them, but in August, that’s down to 6%. It appears that it’s moving differently too – whereas his change used to sink by more than 4 inches compared to his 2-seam FB or 5 inches compared to his 4-seamer, the gap is down to 1 inch compared to his 2 seamer and a bit less than 2 inches compared to his 4 seamer. The gap in velocity’s down as well. All told, it’s gone from a plus pitch to a questionable one, though it may still be the best pitch in his arsenal.
8: Ryan (woooo)
The Rainiers look to avoid a sweep in Reno tonight with
Anthony Vasquez on the hill. Losing the first three have pretty much ended any hope of a Rainiers playoff run, but this will still be an interesting few weeks for Vasquez and Erasmo Ramirez.
Instead of using Vasquez to bolster the Rainiers increasingly quixotic playoff push, the M’s have called him up and he’ll pitch tomorrow night. No word on the corresponding roster move yet.
Other starters tonight include Tony Butler for Clinton, Kenn Kasparek for Jackson and Cameron Hobson for Everett.