Game 70, Mariners at Diamondbacks
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Daniel Hudson, 6:40pm
Erasmo Ramirez takes the mound looking to improve on his starting debut which featured equal parts promise and frustration. He’s able to throw with above-average velocity and has above-average control, but he’s still finding it difficult to miss a lot of bats. Ground balls should help, but the margins are so slim, and if he misses his spots, those grounders turn into hard-hit balls.
Daniel Hudson starts for the D-Backs, one of their excellent young starting pitchers who comes in fresh off a 7 IP 1 R performance against the Texas Rangers. But after a breakout season in 2010 (during which he was traded to Arizona) and a great 2011 that saw him post nearly 5 fWAR, he’s been inconsistent and injury-plagued in 2012. He made all of three starts in April before going on the shelf with shoulder soreness (yeesh). He came back in late May, and his velocity’s down about 1 mph from where it was back in April. Overall, there’s not much different in terms of peripherals- his K% and BB% are down just slightly from where they were in 2011, for example. The big change is in his HR allowed, which is susceptible to huge swings when we’re talking about a sample of a half-dozen starts or so. Jason Vargas’ has seen his HRs spike in recent months and he was gracious enough to spot a couple of dingers to the Giants, so I think it’d be sporting for Hudson to continue to dispense meatballs liberally throughout his outing tonight.
The thing that initially gets your attention when watching Hudson is his release point. Similar to the White Sox Chris Sale, Hudson has a real sidearm/low three-quarter delivery, releasing the ball about 5′ from the ground. This helps him get good horizontal movement on his pitches, and his solid velocity (92-94) means he can get the occasional swing and miss. His stuff’s not in Sale’s league, but that hasn’t stopped him from being an effective SP. But I *am* surprised that he’s able to be effective against left-handed hitting line-ups. Almost everyone stacks lefties against Hudson, and I’m sure the M’s will too. When we think of deliveries like this, we often think of relievers like Sean Green (before he went full-on sidearm) or Jeff Nelson – guys with massive platoon splits. Here are Hudson’s. He’s actually gotten slightly better results off of lefties in his career (though this is largely BABIP driven). This is pretty counter-intuitive, even for someone with a good change-up, like Hudson.
There was just a fascinating (if math-y) article on *why* it’s tough for same-handed hitters to pick up the ball when facing a sidearmer. The short answer is that it’s easier for a RHB to track a pitch the closer it’s thrown to the first- baseline, and this has the effect of decreasing its apparent velocity to the hitter. Given this, it’s sort of remarkable that guys like Sale and Hudson can do what they do – namely, neutralize opposite-handed batters. This is relevant for M’s fans, because one of the knocks on Danny Hultzen was that his delivery might make him susceptible to good RH batters. Obviously, Hultzen’s got a great change-up too, but the angle would seem to give righties some advantages. So think of Hultzen tonight if the M’s get shut down by Hudson.
Hultzen starts the Southern League All-Star Game against the D-Backs prospect Tyler Skaggs tonight, and, to complete the rivalry, the Tacoma Rainiers host the D-Backs AAA affiliate, the Reno Aces tonight at Cheney. Trevor Bauer, the Diamondbacks prospect who many think will join the big club in a matter of weeks, gets the start.
1: Ichiro (RF)
2: Gutierrez (CF)
3: Seager (3B)
4: Montero (C)
5: Saunders (LF)
6: Smoak (1B)
7: Ackley (2B)
8: Ryan (SS)
9: Erasmooooo (SP)
Huh. Not as left-handed as I’d have guessed, frankly. I guess the M’s have seen Hudson’s splits too.