Series Wrap Odds and Ends

marc w · August 24, 2011 at 11:04 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

1: The Mariners scored 29 runs in their 3-1 series win against Cleveland. They scored 26 in their first 14 games of July. They scored 9 runs for the 3rd time today, and have 6 games with at least 9 runs. They’ve come against Cleveland, Detroit (twice), New York and Tampa. Meanwhile, they’ve been shut down by the likes of Bruce Chen, Jason Marquis, Sean O’Sullivan and Brian Matusz.

2: The offense was led by Kyle Seager, Trayvon Robinson, and Wily Mo Pena, and the Rainiers pounded out 12 runs to get a win for Anthony Vasquez, a guy throwing 83-85 MPH. I’m still trying to get my head around Vasquez’s win; as many of you talked about in the game thread, the pitch fx/gameday algorithm was confused by Vasquez’s “fast”ball and labeled over 70% of his pitches as change-ups.
I’ve tried to go through and classify his pitches and I come up with 37 change-ups, 27 two-seam fastballs, 26 four-seam fastballs, 7 curve balls and one…something (maybe a cutter, maybe a four-seamer). Assuming my classification is close-ish to accurate (and that’s a big assumption), Vasquez’s stuff is pretty remarkable. No, those 81 MPH pitches weren’t change-ups – his change-up averaged a staggering 72.7 MPH. The pitches in the low-80s were mostly two-seam fastballs, and they averaged 82 MPH. Both the two-seamer and change had very nice arm-side run, but I can’t get over those velocity numbers. His four-seamer came in at a comparatively blistering 85.4 MPH which is, somewhat improbably, faster than the Royals Jeff Francis (who beat the M’s in KC back in April). His curve ball came in 67.6 MPH, much slower than the knuckleballs of RA Dickey or Charlie Haeger, and even slower than Francis’ slow yakker.
We’ve all been talking about comparisons for Vasquez – Jason Vargas is perhaps the most common. In terms of his arsenal and overall velocity, the closest match *might* be Livan Hernandez. The aged wonder in DC has an 83-84 MPH fastball and a curve under 68 MPH. He throws a change-up as well, but it’s much, much faster than Vasquez’s at 77 MPH. If Vasquez wants to work in an eephus pitch every now and again, I wouldn’t object.
His most remarkable (and successful) pitch was his change-up. It got 6 whiffs, which isn’t bad. It also appears to be the slowest change-up in the league, behind RA Dickey’s (this is based on the Fangraphs leaderboard, which I believe comes from BIS data – I’m comparing my own classification of pitch fx data to BIS’s classifications, so take this with several grains of salt). It’s slower than Jamie Moyer’s. It’s not a great pitch, but it’s so different, I almost have to love it. A guy with a low-mid 80s fastball appears to throw a change-up that occasionally hits the high 60s. We talk about Justin Verlander’s confidence in throwing a bunch of fastballs in a row to blow away a hitter, but how much “confidence” does it take to blow 100 MPH heat past someone? Think about Vasquez throwing a low-70s pitch that is separated from a random JV high-school pitch solely by how well he disguises it from his varsity high-school fastball. That’s confidence. I’m not sure I want to see a whole lot more of it, but I’m glad that game happened.

3: The Rainiers ended their 8-game losing streak with a 9-3 win at Colorado Springs. Michael Saunders and Mike Wilson homered for Tacoma. Alex Liddi is again scuffling after a hot start to the month. He’s now struck out 3 times in 3 of his last 5 games, and he has 10 Ks total in that stretch. His slash numbers are still OK, but he’s got 160 Ks thus far. I’d still like to see him get some ABs in September, but I’m really glad Seager’s starting to look comfortable. Liddi’s got talent, but he’s got plenty of work to do. Meanwhile, Mike Saunders now has an OPS over 1.000 since early July. I still think he’s probably playing for a contract somewhere else, but after all he’s been through, I’m rooting for him.

4: The M’s are off tomorrow, as they fly home to prepare for the White Sox on Friday. With the Indians getting swept by Detroit and then losing three of four to Seattle, the White Sox slipped into 2nd in the division and had playoff odds around 15% as recently as the 22nd. A walk-off loss and then a shut-out tonight has left them reeling – their playoff odds have been halved, and the M’s can pretty much eliminate them over the weekend. I still find it fascinating that the White Sox were contending at all; their DH has been worth two wins below replacement level, and their CF has cost them another. It’s conceivable that Omar Vizquel could post a better on-base percentage than either – the same Omar Vizquel who posted a .273 OBP for the M’s in 1989.

5: Greg Johns reports that the M’s are considering going with a six-man rotation. This arrangement would limit the innings of Pineda, Vargas and Felix, and allow Vasquez to get a few more starts in September. I’d love to see the M’s experiment with this; all of baseball seems to have decided that a 5-man rotation is optimal, and I’m not sure that that’s always the case – particularly with the M’s, who might find that some of their more marginal starters look a lot better with some extra rest. I know they’re not looking at it for next season at this point, but think about how it might allow them to exploit their depth at SP – they could work in Paxton/Hultzen slowly and manage the innings of Pineda as well, and they wouldn’t necessarily need to give Felix fewer starts to do it. A bit of creativity could pay some dividends next year. Yes, this would cost them a bullpen spot, but given the utility of the 7th man in the ‘pen, particularly given Wedge’s usage patterns, it seems like an easy trade.


13 Responses to “Series Wrap Odds and Ends”

  1. beamish007 on August 24th, 2011 11:21 pm

    Can we play the Indians all the time?

  2. jordan on August 25th, 2011 12:02 am

    I am a huge advocate for the six man rotation. I also think sometimes using a tandem for on spot is a good idea for guys your trying to monitor innings on.

  3. Westside guy on August 25th, 2011 12:14 am

    It’s slower than Jamie Moyer’s.

    Wait… I believe that would violate the laws of Newtonian dynamics.

  4. Bwilliam on August 25th, 2011 6:56 am

    The six man rotation sounds awful. If Wedge would use his bullpen and not ride the starters into the ground we wouldn’t be worried about their innings pitched.

    Look at what Wedge did to Fausto Carmona’s career. He overpitched him in 2007 and it took Carmona two years to bounce back.

    They should go with a five man rotation the rest of the way and shut Pineda down.

  5. gwangung on August 25th, 2011 7:47 am

    The six man rotation sounds awful. If Wedge would use his bullpen and not ride the starters into the ground we wouldn’t be worried about their innings pitched.

    This comment doesn’t make any sense.

    A six man rotation and greater bullpen use both solves the problem of too many innings/pitches on the starters. You haven’t given any reason to prefer one over the other.

  6. djw on August 25th, 2011 10:10 am

    What’s “awful” about it? All it means in practice is that one or two starts would be removed from each of the current starting five and given to this kid Vasquez. That’s pretty inconsequential, really. Two very minor positives–a little less work for young arms and a few more looks at this Vasquez kid. I’m not terribly optimistic about him developing into a contributor in the future, for all the obvious reasons, but I don’t really mind giving him a look now. No roster crunch because it’s taking place in September.

    What’s the problem?

  7. jephdood on August 25th, 2011 10:42 am

    It’s slower than Jamie Moyer’s.


    Seriously though, the guy looked VERY hitable. Let’s see how he fares against Boston, NY, Toronto, Texas, etc.

  8. msfanmike on August 25th, 2011 11:50 am

    Seriously though, the guy looked VERY hitable.

    You are right … he sure did. He finished real high with his follow through and was getting a lot of balls up. Maybe it was jitters. He is supposedly a “command” pitcher and we didn’t really see what he is fully capable of doing – based on some Wedge post game comments. Moyer was so effective with his change-up because of how well he sold his follow through and obviously the location of his pitches (at least many of the pitches not thrown to Vlad). Vasquez 15 MPH difference between fastball and changeup is very unique and should keep hitters off balance – especially if he can keep the changeup down at shin height.

    Vasquez has work to do and a temporary 6 man rotation is the perfect place to let him do it. There should not be any issues with a 6 man rotation for the remainder of the year … IMO. The fact that Vasquez has made it this far – with his stuff – means something. He won’t be around long though if he doesn’t keep the change-up down.

  9. MrZDevotee on August 25th, 2011 1:25 pm

    Lest we forget, Jamie Moyer has said he will consider a comeback in 2012… Maybe we could have a lob ball “platoon”… They each pitch half a game, and Jamie can take Vasquez under his wing and instruct him on the finer points of being annoyingly slow with your pitches (and I mean that in the very best way).

  10. TomC on August 25th, 2011 2:57 pm

    Maybe we could have a lob ball “platoon”… They each pitch half a game, and Jamie can take Vasquez under his wing and instruct him on the finer points of being annoyingly slow with your pitches

    This is my favorite crazy idea of the year. I would LOVE a Moyer/Vasquez lobbalooza.

  11. drw on August 25th, 2011 5:58 pm

    and the Rainiers pounded out 12 runs to get a win for Anthony Vasquez

    They only look like the Rainiers. But if they hit like a PCL team, who is going to complain?

  12. Kazinski on August 25th, 2011 9:52 pm

    I think the 6 man rotation makes perfect sense in these circumstances:

    Pineda is at a career high innings.
    Beavan is only 18ip short a career high innings.
    Furbush is only 7ip short a career high innings.
    Felix has already thrown 200ip. Even though I think he could throw 300 if he wanted.

    And I’d like to see what Vasquez can do with a more extended look.

  13. Adam S on August 25th, 2011 10:50 pm

    In general, I think the six man rotation is a bad idea. You want your #1 and #2 guy out there as much as possible.

    But given the M’s are going nowhere, it lets you audition 3 guys instead of 2, and reduces the load of your young guys.

    Then again, they could just shut down Pineda after 1 or 2 more starts and limit Felix to 100 pitches and accomplish the same thing. Given my druthers, I’d like to see Pineda shut down, not scaled down 15%.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.