Game 126, Mariners at White Sox
Jason Vargas vs. Jake Peavy, 5:10pm
The M’s march through the AL Central continues tonight in Chicago, as Jason Vargas squares off against Jake Peavy and the Sox.
Chicago’s been in first place for a long time, but they’ve got some incentive as Detroit’s suddenly less than two games back, and the wild card race is pretty tight. Luckily, they look like a very good club, with an excellent offense and surprising pitching. Their run differential is +72, which easily outpaces Detroit’s and the other claimants for the wild card like Oakland and Baltimore…which, how on earth is Baltimore in this thing given that their run differential is -54?
Anyway – Jake Peavy remains a very good starting pitcher, and he’s been healthier this year than he’s ever been with Chicago – he’s already surpassed his innings pitched totals from 2011, 2010 and 2009, and he could surpass his 2008 total tonight. His fastball velocity’s down from where it was in his first few years with the White Sox, but it’s still a very respectable 91.
Interestingly, he’s all but abandoned his cutter this year in favor of a true slider and curve. Even against lefties, he’s using breaking balls more and the cutter less. In 2011, he threw a cutter 15% of the time he faced a lefty, and used his curve ball 8%. This year, the cutter’s down to 4% against lefties, while curve usage is up to 14%. His platoon splits look bad this year, but much of that seems to be BABIP luck – he’s still pretty tough against all hitters.
The M’s have their lefty-heavy line-up out there, and with Montero catching, it’s almost impossible to quibble with:
4: Jaso (DH)
5: Montero (C)
Tacoma’s home against Las Vegas tonight, and it depresses me to inform you that tonight’s game is Danny Hultzen’s last start in Tacoma this year, and that, including tonight, the Rainiers have three home dates left in 2012. So go.