Game 157, Mariners at Rangers
Anthony Vasquez vs. Matt Harrison, 5:05pm
I talked about Matt Harrison the other day and he went out and dominated a toothless M’s line-up. That game featured Felix Hernandez in his final home start of the year. This game features Anthony Vasquez’s debut in Arlington. I’ve got a bad feeling here.
Vasquez hasn’t pitched like a major leaguer thus far; that’s not exactly news, and it’s also not all that damning. As exciting as he’s been, Trayvon Robinson has been below replacement-level too. The M’s are playing out the string – these games are more about development than anything. But I think it’s time for Vasquez to give us some reason to expect that, with experience, he’ll be more than a punching bag. Yes, he’s had one solid start, but he’s also giving up HRs like it’s 1999 and missing bats like it’s 1949.
In fact, Vasquez could make some history this year. As you can probably imagine, the list of pitchers who’ve given up more HRs than strike-outs isn’t a long one. If you restrict it to a minimum of 30 innings, only 7 pitchers have managed this feat. If you have a minimum of 10 HRs, only one pitcher qualifies: Bill Hubbell in 1923 (perhaps thankfully, Bill is no relation to HOFer Carl Hubbell who also pitched in the ’20s). Vasquez, heading into Arlington, has given up 9 HRs and has racked up 11 Ks in 24 innings.
Ex-Mariner hurler Glenn Abbott appears on the list – he gave up 9 HRs and got only 8 Ks in 44 innings (!) for Detroit in 1984, but his 1979 with the M’s was remarkable too. He gave up 19 HRs to only 25 Ks in over 116 innings. We talk about how much baseball’s changed since the steroid-addled 1990s, but baseball in the 1980s was basically unrecognizable. I say that as someone who watched the Argyros-M’s from the Kingdome quite often; everyone talked about HRs, and we missed the fact that (perhaps) the bigger change was the increasing importance of the K.
The line-up that’ll be
2: Robinson (CF)
5: Carp (LF)
6: Smoak (DH)
7: Seager (SS)
9: Gimenez (1B)
Hoooo boy. The major changes from the last time the M’s faced Harrison is Robinson hitting second and Gimenez playing 1B. Sure, Smoak replaces Wily Mo at DH, but this is… wow.
If you need a laugh, check out Grant Brisbee’s article at SBN on possible follow-ups to the new Moneyball movie.