Game 113, Mariners at Orioles
Kevin Millwood vs. Steve Johnson, 4:05pm
The less said about yesterday’s game the better, but I will say that Zach Britton wasn’t good. The O’s evidently agreed, and sent him down to AAA after the game. The only other thing to say has been said by Jeff Sullivan here: Mark Reynolds’ swing against Oliver Perez last night was funny, and you should watch it again and again.
The Orioles begin play today 4.5 games back of the Yankees in the AL East – ahead of the Rays, Jays and Red Sox. They’re a game back of Detroit for the first wild card, but they’re tied with Oakland for wild card #2. They’re very clearly in the playoff picture, and have a (very) outside shot at a pennant this year. It’s with that in mind that I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that the Orioles have used Chris Tillman (career rWAR of 0.3), Zach Britton (-0.8) and Steve Johnson (0) in this series. I’m not going to sit here and feel superior to the Orioles, who are *in a playoff race* and have already taken the series. But imagine what it must be like to be in a race and see your team trot out replacement level pitchers three days in a row. Luckily for us, we don’t even have to imagine what it feels like to lose to replacement level pitchers – it’s something of a hobby.*
The O’s pitching stats aren’t that bad, but that’s largely due to pitchers who aren’t healthy anymore. Jason Hammel was the clear ace of the staff after coming over in the mmph Jeremy Guthrie trade hahahahahaha, but he’s recovering from knee surgery. Wei-Yin Chen’s made the most starts, and he’s been very solid, but his xFIP’s a lot closer to Jason Vargas’ than it is to Felix’s. Jake Arrieta’s been unlucky and bad, and Tommy Hunter’s been every bit as bad as his ERA, but even Hunter’s hurting. And that brings us to today’s starter, Steve Johnson. A minor league vet, Johnson will be making his second MLB appearance today; his first came after Hammel went on the DL and today’s comes when Hunter couldn’t take the ball.
He’s got an over the top 90-92 (touching 93) fastball with absolutely no sink, and a very odd change-up that seems impervious to sink as well. As you can imagine, he’s not exactly a ground ball pitcher. It’s not easy to check GB% leaders in the minors, and minor league batted ball classification is probably trickier/more problematic than MLB classification, but I don’t remember the last time I saw a GB% as low as Johnson’s. The guy is Blake Beavan,** plus more walks. Ok, ok, he gets more K’s too, but he’s not a strikeout pitcher. He’s a pitch to contact guy, and that contact is almost always in the air. Sometimes, they’re pop-ups, but often, they’re line-drives. Because his fastball has almost no tail, he shouldn’t have huge platoon splits, but who knows – there’s just not much to go on with this guy.
The line-up is very left-handed today against the right-handed Johnson.
3: Montero (DH)
4: Jaso (C)
7: Robinson (LF)
8: Thames (RF)
* – “Yes, we dabble in Waechtering. Waechtering? Oh, it’s like this combination of baseball and dance; sort of like capoeira with a bat. The first rule of Waechtering is that you never tell the pitcher that you’re Waechtering.”
** – Right down to the fact that they both got hammered in their first exposure to AAA, then came back and had a decent bounce-back in year two.