Game 63, Padres at Mariners
Happy Felix Day!
King Felix vs. Clayton Richard, 7:10pm
Felix Hernandez makes his first start since back tightness cost him some time (and may have contributed to his awful start against Chicago. It gave us all a good scare, but the layoff may have had a benefit: Felix watched himself on video for what sounds like the first time, and he diagnosed several mechanical flaws. A healthy Felix who’s also a mechanically-sound Felix would prove pretty tough to deal with, especially for San Diego and their below-average offense.
Opposing him is southpaw Clayton Richard, who had a minor break out in 2010 when he put up a sub 4 ERA and FIP in about 200 innings. Of course, once you park adjust, a “sub 4” ERA isn’t all that amazing; he was actually below average according to Fangraphs’ ERA- and FIP- stats. Still, for a back of the rotation guy, he was very good and seemed to be getting better. Since then, injuries and ineffectiveness have pushed him towards replacement level.
He throws a two- and four-seam fastball, a cutter/slider and a change-up. When he came to the Padres he was a ground-baller, using his sinker often with only an occasional four-seamer. From 2010-2011, he used the four-seamer much more often, which makes some sense in a park like Petco, but thus far in 2012 he’s gone back to the sinker as his most-used fastball. This has boosted his GB rates, but it’s not helping him recapture his pre-injury strikeout numbers. His GB and K% and B% now make him seem like a poor man’s Rick Porcello, or perhaps a poor man’s Jerome Williams and I *still* can’t believe I’m calling anyone a poor man’s Jerome Williams. Man, I wished Williams pitched for someone other than Anaheim.
1: Ichiro (RF)
2: Ackley (2B)
3: Montero (DH)
4: Seager (3B)
5: Smoak (1B)
6: Olivo (C)
7: Saunders (CF)
8: Figgins (LF)
9: Ryan (SS)
SP: KING FELIX
Yeah, yeah, Figgins in LF. Kyle Seager is batting clean-up, and we all sort of nod and scan the rest for problems. Can you imagine this a year ago? Kyle Seager is batting clean-up, for the Mariners, and we’re OK with that. This is absolutely not a knock on Seager, who’s been the M’s best hitter in 2012. I’m just marveling both at how smoothly Seager’s transition to the majors has gone…and how bumpy the road’s been for Jesus Montero (to say nothing of Justin Smoak).
In other news, the M’s have gone over slot to sign 3rd round pick Tyler Pike and 2nd rounder Joe DeCarlo. The combined amount puts them pretty close to the 10% threshold at which Serious Business occurs, so you’d expect that the M’s have a plan to underspend somewhere. Technically, they’ve underspent on 4th rounder Patrick Kivlehan and 7th rounder Taylor Ard, but I doubt those later picks put much of a dent in the overage for, say, DeCarlo. A half-million over slot never used to be worth a raised eyebrow, but the M’s clearly need to be careful now. If this is an effort to play hardball with Mike Zunino, then I don’t like it – having the overages public gives every bit as much leverage to Zunino as it does to the M’s. Because the M’s lose the slot amount if they fail to sign Zunino, they now absolutely MUST sign Zunino or they risk losing two draft picks. This makes me think they have something worked out with Zunino already, because if not, I can’t imagine anyone in the FO’s sleeping well.