Game 99, Yankees at Mariners
Felix Hernandez vs. Freddy Garcia, 7:10pm
King Felix finally faces off against his idol Freddy “El Jefe” Garcia. Years ago, Freddy had extremely good stuff – velocity that touched the mid 90s with incredible movement and sink, and a big curve ball. The results never quite matched up (aside from his very good year in 2001), but he was a good pitcher for several years before his shoulder gave out.
Now, at 36, he’s a classic junkballer. His fastball velo looks a lot more like Jason Vargas’ than Felix’s, and he’s gone for quantity over quality for his other pitches: he seems to have a few flavors of slider, to go along with a slow, Moyer-style curve ball, and a splitter. This Frank Tanana-style rebirth was one of the better stories of 2011, and would’ve gotten more attention if he wasn’t upstaged by teammate Bartolo Colon.
This year, the Chief’s results haven’t been that great (his RA is around 6), but despite an uptick in K’s and HRs, he’s essentially the same guy he was last year. His 2011 FIP (4.12) looks a whole lot like his 2012 FIP (4.21) – what’s changed is BABIP and a decrease in strand rate. Garcia wasn’t as good as his ERA last year, and he’s not as bad as his ERA this year. He’s not great, but he’s been a serviceable back-end starter that hasn’t cost the Yankees a ton of money (not that they care).
There’s been some talk about it earlier, but I wanted to talk about the Tacoma Rainier heading back to Seattle for the first time this season. Sure, he was up briefly last year, but he really deserves another chance to perform for MLB audiences. I’m talking of course about R’s broadcasting legend and friend of the blog Mike Curto, who’ll call the game on radio. Wait, what? Trayvon Robinson? Uh, ok, him too. Dave’s guess that Darren Ford might get the call made sense considering that Ford’s a better CF and has hit reasonably well in the month and a half he’s played (he missed the first few months after breaking his finger in a hotel door), but Robinson’s on the 40-man and Ford isn’t. Robinson was an intriguing pick-up in the Bedard trade, but his swing-and-miss problems have persisted while his power numbers really haven’t. This isn’t a huge shock considering his home park in 2011, but it’s sort of amazing that as of this date, the best prospects in the three-team trade are Stephen Fife and Tim Federowicz. Let’s just say that was *not* how the trade was seen at the time. Expect Robinson to fill in as the 4th outfielder until Franklin Gutierrez returns. He’s not a real candidate to platoon with Carlos Peguero, as Robinson hits better from the left side. Still, given that he can switch hit, he might play LF against a lefty or two with Casper Wells in RF.
2: Saunders (CF)
3: Montero (DH)
4: Jaso (C)
5: Seager (3B)
6: Wells (LF)
7: Carp (1B)
8: Peguero (RF)
SP: King Felix
Nice to see Mike Saunders back up near the top of the line-up instead of in 7th. John Jaso’s getting more time at catcher; I like that Felix seems comfortable throwing to him (this is Jaso’s third-consecutive time catching Felix), but this means Montero’s catching fewer games. I’ve been much more optimistic about Montero catching in the near/medium term than Dave has, and I don’t want to overreact to a few weeks of games (especially given that Jaso’s been one of the only solid bats), but this can’t be a good sign for the “keep Montero behind the plate” crew.
Go M’s. Happy Felix Day.