Game 6, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · April 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yesterday, the M’s got to face a guy making his US/MLB debut, and today they face Neftali Feliz who’ll be making his first MLB start. Feliz was one of baseball’s hottest commodities in 2008/9; he was acquired in the massive Mark Teixeira deal that essentially remade the Rangers, and Feliz quickly rose through the ranks to become a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He had the classic power pitcher’s arsenal and high-90s velocity, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before he began laying waste to the AL.

The Rangers eased him in to the bigs in 2009 by using him as their set-up man in the bullpen. In 31 innings, he struck out 39 hitters and yielded 8 walks. The next season, the Rangers made the seemingly curious decision to keep him in the bullpen, this time as their closer. As much as it seemed counterproductive to keep your best pitching prospect limited to 1IP stints, it didn’t seem to hurt the club or the pitcher, as Feliz enjoyed another sub-3.0 FIP season and the Rangers won the pennant. In 2011, the Rangers again pulled the plug on a possible role change for Feliz and kept him in the pen, and they again won the pennant with the Venezuelan as their closer. But Feliz seemed like a different pitcher.

Instead of the good control he’d exhibited in 2009-10, he was something of a mess as his walk rate increased from under 7% to nearly 12%. His K rate continued to fall, ending the year at 21.4%, well behind the likes of Craig Kimbrel or Mariano Rivera, but also behind Grant Balfour, Matt Albers, Will Ohman and a scuffling Joakim Soria. A low BABIP (though he’s always had a low BABIP-against) helped his ERA, but his FIP was now a fairly pedestrian 3.57. This spring, the Rangers committed to moving Feliz to the rotation and they’ve stuck with it (Boston, you could learn something here), despite some scares like shoulder soreness this spring.

Feliz hasn’t really demonstrated big platoon splits the way you’d expect given his FB-SL heavy repertoire. He does throw a change, but it’s his fastball that he’s relied on thus far, using it about 80% of the time in 2010-11. The sudden wildness and a curious lack of strikeouts make him a real question mark for a team without many. Since these are the Rangers, even if Feliz struggles, it shouldn’t hurt their chances: they could always swap him out for Alexi Ogando who moved from the pen to the rotation last year with great results. Still, the M’s get yet another shot at an immensely talented pitcher who’s also strangely vulnerable right now.

On the other hand, the M’s are the one team who didn’t seem to notice that Feliz was suddenly human last year. The M’s were famously 0-28 with 13 Ks (about 1/4 of his overall strikeout total on the season) against him, and it says something that what jumped out at me the most from his line were the two walks (“Really? Someone got on base? I don’t remember that”). That said, it’s a new, Cust-less line-up the M’s are trotting out, and it’s one that gave Yu Darvish a rude welcome last night. They were patient, but they also punished mistakes – it’s sort of a truism, but that’s the approach they need to use against Feliz. Making the pitcher throw a lot of pitches and work hard early isn’t some novel strategy, but it’s particularly relevant when facing a converted closer who battled arm troubles in March.

The M’s line-up is loaded with left-handed hitters to counter Feliz’s slider; Miguel Olivo’s the only righty in the group. Jesus Montero returns from the stomach flu to DH, and Munenori Kawasaki’s in the line-up again at SS, as Brendan Ryan’s sore somewhere.
1: Figgins (LF)
2: Ackley (2B)
3: Ichiro! (RF)
4: Smoak (1B)
5: Seager (3B)
6: Montero (DH)
7: Saunders (CF)
8: Olivo (C)
9: Kawasaki (SS)
SP: Beavan

Gametime’s 5:05

Go M’s


86 Responses to “Game 6, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. Westside guy on April 10th, 2012 6:58 pm

    I must say if I was being threatened in some dark alley somewhere, Miguel Olivo would probably be a good guy to have at my back.

  2. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2012 6:58 pm

    Has that been adjusted to how quickly a pudge like Olivo slows down when he hits the earth? Friction, etc.

  3. Paul B on April 10th, 2012 6:59 pm

    There’s no way a head first slide gets you there faster if your belly hits the ground 6 feet from the bag.

    Friction is a bitch.

  4. Westside guy on April 10th, 2012 7:00 pm

    Frictional deceleration is not dependent on mass. 😀

  5. georgmi on April 10th, 2012 7:00 pm

    I don’t believe that, but even if it were true, that belly flop was nowhere near “a perfectly executed” slide.

  6. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2012 7:01 pm

    I like being a pessimist as much as the next guy, but it’s 1-0 against the reigning American League champs in the 7th, and the 6th game of the season.

    Maybe a moment or two more should pass before we totally abandon the season…?

  7. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:01 pm

    Sliding is the best way to slow down (and stop) faster. Right on the base as a matter of fact. Whereas running at full speed requires several steps past the bag to be able to stop, but okay. I would be willing to read the Thesis, though.

  8. jordan on April 10th, 2012 7:02 pm

    Haha, that’s why I said perfectly executed. It must be times so that as soon as you are in full slide mode, your hand is already on the base. So it would be almost more of a lunge. But yes, Olivo has no business running the diamond, let alone diving head first into first.

  9. Westside guy on April 10th, 2012 7:04 pm

    Man I’m glad he’s okay… that’s always so scary.

  10. Breadbaker on April 10th, 2012 7:05 pm

    When you run, the distance you travel is measured linearly. When you slide, you have to move a longer distance (essentially your height), while decelerating. Since there is no reason to decelerate when running to first base, how could it be faster to cover a longer distance while running again?

  11. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2012 7:05 pm

    Okay, I DO give Olivo credit though that he was immediately concerned about Napoli when he got hit… Nice, decent guy points.

    But friction is affected by surface tension… And a bubbly fatso tummy doesn’t slide nearly as well as a muscular, taut 6 pack.

  12. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:06 pm

    A head first slide is milliseconds quicker than a foot first slide. That, I will buy. That, I have heard and seen on professor wizard TV. However, neither mode of stopping is faster than running.

  13. jordan on April 10th, 2012 7:06 pm

    …The act of diving, where your body is still elevated results in less friction than running does, and the lunge that precedes a dive results in a slight increase of speed.

    If someone dives, and they slide on the ground before reaching the base, then they did it incorrectly. It should be timed in a matter that your hand lands on the base at the same time your body hits the ground, it isn’t graceful, but it is effective. That said, almost nobody ever does it correctly because quite simply… it hurts.

  14. georgmi on April 10th, 2012 7:06 pm

    But you’re allowed to run past first base. You’re safe as long as you beat the ball and don’t turn towards second.

    There’s no reason not to run full out and through the bag.

  15. Westside guy on April 10th, 2012 7:09 pm

    Man, a 1-0 game into the 8th… in Texas!

  16. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:10 pm

    Texas 1; Seattle 0

    Breadbaker 1; Jordan 0

  17. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2012 7:14 pm

    I would think the variance in guys’ abilities to execute the dive would offset any advantage it gains by the body winding forward and reaching its destination ever so slightly sooner, while also slowing at a quicker rate. There’s a tiny window of advantage, rarely gained, I would imagine.

    If we figure in the increased injury risk factor, there’s probably a negative effect (unless we’re talking Olivo, in which case the DL is an excellent strategic move in some minds).

  18. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:22 pm

    Miggy should dive at every opportunity, then. He face planted last year. He belly planted this year. On average his oozer dive rating is league average. Now, let’s get a freaking run and not let them score any. Dives vs slides vs just running your ass off although you were out by ten feet anyway. Scintillating stuff for sure and for certain. Tough to drum up much of a conversation with no hits, I suppose.

  19. georgmi on April 10th, 2012 7:22 pm

    I doubt Olivo would ever generate enough velocity to injure himself by falling down.

  20. Breadbaker on April 10th, 2012 7:24 pm

    I am starting to love Tom Wilhelmsen.

  21. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:28 pm

    Come on eech. Hit a bomb!

  22. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:28 pm

    Come on smoak. Hit a bomb!

  23. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:29 pm

    Come on Seager. Hit a bomb!

  24. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:30 pm

    Time to get bombed!

  25. stevemotivateir on April 10th, 2012 7:30 pm

    Who would have thought that this would be a 1-0 game?

  26. stevemotivateir on April 10th, 2012 7:31 pm

    Still gotta give props to Beavan

  27. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2012 7:31 pm

    Tip of the cap to Blake Beavan– welcome to Felix Hernandez’s life (of little run support).

    Pitched a helluva game, got out some difficult jams. Well done, kid!

  28. stevemotivateir on April 10th, 2012 7:32 pm

    Holding the Rangers to one run at their stadium certainly can’t hurt his trade stock! Not that I’m suggesting they trade him right away.

  29. georgmi on April 10th, 2012 7:33 pm

    I expect to see Olivo sitting tomorrow, to learn a lesson about “accountability”.

  30. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:33 pm

    Big props to Beaven for sure. He looked good. Poised. And Fister-Esque in terms of run support.

  31. georgmi on April 10th, 2012 7:36 pm

    Tip of the cap to Blake Beavan

    Yes, sir. That’s why we don’t look at win totals anymore. : )

  32. msfanmike on April 10th, 2012 7:45 pm

    I am sure someone will point out his k rate regardless of Crash Davis saying they are just fascist anyway because he was, you know … Lucky in the babip department. Over time the babip will catch up to him quickly … But probably not as quickly as a head first slide.

  33. ivan on April 10th, 2012 8:16 pm

    If Wedge is going to bench Ryan for botching that DP Monday — which he did — then by that logic he should bench Seager, whose poor execution of the rundown on Beltre allowed Young to get to second base, from where he scored the game’s only run.

    Seager threw back to second before he should have. The separation between Beltre and second base was too great at the time for Seager to have thrown. He should have faked a throw, then driven Beltre back to second, before he threw.

    Most players learn in high school that a well-executed rundown has only ONE throw. Seager needs a talking-to, because he cost the Mariners that run.

  34. mssuperfan19 on April 10th, 2012 10:52 pm

    Seager also let that grounder late in the game eat him up! He should be coming off the bench. I’d rather see Catricala in left and Liddi at third

  35. groundzero55 on April 11th, 2012 6:10 am

    If the M’s had won the game, we would never have heard another word about the rundown.

    I think the entire lineup needs the talking-to. It’s not often anyone holds the Rangers to ONE run…and you have to take advantage of it when it happens.

  36. Rick L on April 12th, 2012 9:32 pm

    Niehaus (Off mike) What is Miguel Olivo’s number.

    Producer. You don’t know his number?

    Niehaus: No. Every time I see him he’s running toward me.

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