Game 118, Rays at Mariners
Kevin Millwood vs. Matt Moore, 7:10pm
Matt Moore’s still one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and while he hasn’t quite ascended to the Verlander/Felix/Weaver level of AL starters, he’s been excellent in the past month or so. Including his start against the M’s on July 22nd, he’s given up 3 runs in his last 25 2/3 IP, over four starts. He’s kept his walk rate in check, as that’s been a major problem for him, and he’s struck out 25 (against 7 BBs) in that stretch.
One of the possible reasons he hasn’t been able to maintain a stratospheric strikeout rate or keep his RA/9 under 4 has been his struggles against left-handed batters. Remember, Moore’s a lefty himself, and a lefty whose fastball *averages* 95 mph. He’s got a curveball that scouts have praised in the past, so on paper, he should be death on a stick against lefties. Instead, in his brief MLB career, lefties have a wOBA of .341 while he’s holding righties to a .300 mark.
This isn’t new, either. He was great against lefties in the minors, but it was righties that he completely dominated. In 2011, he struck out nearly 40% of the righties he faced, but managed to K only 23% of lefties. In the majors, he’s K’d 25% of righties but only 16% of lefties, and he’s walked more lefties as well. He’s faced righties over 3X more often than lefties in his career, but maybe that’s not the ideal split. He’s brand new, so ALL of these numbers are small samples and should be taken with a grain of salt, but MLB hitters have spoken, and to date, they agree that his change-up is way, way better than his curve-ball.
Kevin Millwood is probably as surprised as all of you that he’s still a Seattle Mariner.
The other big story of the day is that Justin Smoak’s been recalled, and will bat 6th tonight. Mike Carp’s gone on the 15-day DL with tightness in his hip. Mike Zunino’s debut with Jackson’s underway – he’s catching James Paxton, and threw out a baserunner trying to steal 2nd in the first inning of the game. His first at-bat was a hard-luck line-out to 3B.
1: Ackley (2B)
2: Robinson (LF)
3: Montero (DH)
4: Seager (3B)
5: Wells (CF)
6: Smoak (1B)
7: Olivo (C)
8: Thames (RF)
9: Ryan (SS)
Four righties in the line-up, though I presume Wells is in there just to give Mike Saunders a much-needed day off.