Game 96, Mariners at Rays
Jason Vargas vs. Alex Cobb, 4:10pm
After a tough loss last night, the M’s face the Rays and right-hander Alex Cobb this afternoon. Jason Vargas looks to avoid extending his lead in HRs allowed; he’s built quite a lead over Hector Noesi and five other pitchers tied 5 HRs back. He’s also trying to escape a 13th consecutive start with at least one HR allowed – he’s given up 20 in his current 12-start streak. Since his disaster start in Arizona, Vargas has been tough, though. He’s 2-0 with 22 strikeouts and 8 walks in 29 2/3 IP over 4 starts.
Alex Cobb’s a splitter-throwing GB machine who forced his way up to the big leagues last year (before uberprospect Matt Moore) with a brilliant run for AAA Durham. He mixes a four-seam and two-seam fastball at around 90-92, a rarely used slider, a curve ball and a splitter-change that he’ll use as much as 33-40% of his pitches. Gameday classes it as a change, but Brooksbaseball calls it a splitter, and this picture would seem to lend credence to that categorization. The pitch is a tick slower, but has very similar movement to Hisashi Iwakuma’s. In all, I think Cobb and Iwakuma are pretty good comps – similar velo (though Iwakuma may throw a bit harder), good ground ball rates, solid K numbers, so-so command. So how does Cobb get away with tiny HR rates while Iwakuma’s running 20%+ HR/FB rates? I don’t know, but if I was the M’s, I’d be trying to find out.
3: Wells (LF)
4: Jaso (C)
8: Peguero (DH)
9: Kawasaki (SS)
The Jackson Generals have a doubleheader today, with James Paxton pitching game 1 and Anthony Fernandez going in game 2. Game 1′s half over, but you can tune in to MiLB gameday audio here. Paxton’s given up 1 run through 4 IP with 3 Ks and no walks. He’d pointed to his knee problem as a contributor to his command problems early in the year, and he may have been right: he’s given up just 3 walks in his 18 1/3 IP since coming off the DL (against 19 Ks).
South African pitching prospect Dylan Unsworth pitched the Everett Aqua Sox to the first-half division title last night in the Northwest League. He had ridiculous K:BB ratios is the Arizona League, but that didn’t quite carry over when he moved up to Pulaski. Another blow for the reliability of complex-league stats? Maybe not – he’s not walked anyone in his last two starts, striking out 14 in 13 innings.