Game 92, Mariners at Royals
Blake Beavan vs. Ryan Verdugo, 5:10pm
The M’s faced the primary return in the Melky Cabrera trade yesterday, and today they get the prospect the Giants threw in: left-hander Ryan Verdugo. Verdugo’s MLB debut tonight may come against the team he grew up watching, as he attended high school in Lake Stevens and pitched for Skagit Valley College before transferring to LSU. The Giants drafted him twice; once out of Skagit Valley and then got him to sign after a year in Baton Rouge, and then packaged him with Jonathan Sanchez to get Melky Cabrera last winter.
There’s very little to go on pitch fx wise, but he pitched in the 2010 Arizona Fall League and made an appearance or two this spring training in the Royals’ pitch fx-equipped park. It would appear he’s primarily a fastball/slider guy, with a fastball in the 90-91mph range, a slider with sharp vertical break around 80-82 and a change-up with arm-side run. The lefty seems to have almost no horizontal movement on his four-seam fastball, so he may have a somewhat deceptive over-the-top delivery, sort of like Tigers lefty Drew Smyly.
He’s spent most of his MiLB career with the Giants as a reliever, piling up impressive strike-out totals – through 2010, he struck out 193 hitters in 135 total innings (including the AFL). Unfortunately, his control wasn’t great, so he walked 75 over that time frame as well. The Giants decided to move him to the rotation in 2011, and at AA Richmond, he maintained his high K/high BB ways over the course of 130 innings. With the Royals in AAA, the K rate’s down a bit, and he’s had some HR troubles, though this is partially a matter of league/park factors (being a fly-baller in the PCL is hazardous to one’s FIP). His platoon splits are noticeable, but nothing eye-popping; given his fastball’s movement, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of splits, so it may be a case where his slider’s far more advanced than his change-up.
Blake Beavan’s been called up from Tacoma to make this start, with Steve Delabar making the very familiar journey down to Tacoma. The right-hander made six starts after his mid-June demotion, and Beavaned his way to a 4-0 record with a sub-3 ERA. He didn’t suddenly get a putaway pitch or gain velocity – in fact he’s become even more of a pitch-to-contact guy. His MLB K rate in 2011/12 was absurdly low, but in AAA this year, it’s even lower: an absurd 9.4%. Predictably, the advanced metrics are about as high on him as Dave Cameron. I think the M’s have an opportunity to Aaron Cook the Royals tonight – remember how frustrated we all were (and Eric Wedge was) after the Aaron Cook shutout in which the Red Sox hurler K’d 2 and threw something like three dozen pitches to get through 9 innings? Well, those remain the *only strikeouts Cook’s recorded this year*. If there’s anyone capable of doing the improbable things that Cook’s doing, it’s an extreme ground-ball guy. But Beavan isn’t far behind. I bear no ill-will towards the Royals or their fans, but I really hope there’s a lot of “How could we make it so easy for…THAT guy?” chatter tonight in the midwest.
4: Montero (DH)
7: Olivo (C)
It’s mid-July and it’s injury-assisted, but the M’s seem to have found a fairly stable line-up. Jaso plays occasionally against righties, and Montero/Olivo swap the C/DH duties, but there haven’t been too many surprises recently.