Game 144, Mariners at Blue Jays

marc w · September 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Henderson Alvarez, 4:07pm

Henderson Alvarez is a mystery. The M’s have enough mysterious underachievers, so I’m particularly glad that Alvarez’s bizarre hittability is someone else’s problem. Alvarez gets ground balls, and at this point throws harder than Felix Hernandez. Alvarez has taunted Jays fans by touching the high 90s with his fastball on (rare) occasion, but has posted a replacement-level season. This isn’t a Daniel Cabrera situation, where good stuff is undone by wildness. This is a case where stuff that looks decent on TV (or pitch fx) produces consistently bad results.

Alvarez has 0.1 fWAR, or 0.3 fielding-dependent wins – both his FIP and his ERA are awful. But there isn’t a clear, Hector Noesi-style culprit at work. Just about every component is bad, outside of his GB%. Among qualified pitchers, Alvarez’s K% is dead last. His K/9 and contact rates are also dead last (he’s tied with Bartolo Colon in contact rate, but Bart’s not in baseball anymore). His HR rate is 12th worst. His walk rate is solid, but it isn’t in the neighborhood of other very-low-K pitchers from Blake Beavan to Scott Diamond to Clayton Richard. This produces the 2nd worst K:BB ratio; only his teammate Ricky Romero (whose fall-off-a-cliff 2012 is truly amazing) has been worse. The guys who are most similar in terms of low-K, meh K:BB pitchers are boring back-of-the-rotation guys like Kevin Correia or classic sinkerballers like Tim Hudson or Jake Westbrook. Alvarez gets grounders too, but gives up so many HRs it hardly matters.

The bigger question is why. Correia’s a righty who throws 90mph. Alvarez routinely reaches back for 95, and sits at 93 comfortably. His slider looks OK, and while he’s been slightly better against righties, he’s still been bad. He’s got even less to attack lefties with, which explains how he gave up a lead-off homer to Chone freaking Figgins the last time the M’s visited Toronto. I’m tempted to compare him to other pitchers whose stuff looked better than their results, from Brandon League to Miguel Batista to Yu-Darvish-against-the-Mariners. But all of those guys put up good numbers from time to time even if they perhaps fell short of what many thought they *should* do. Alvarez is fascinating in an Aaron Cook sort of way, despite his pitches looking absolutely nothing like Cook’s. Cook is a pitching machine draped in a uniform; I’m half-convinced that his 2012 season is a Folger’s-style hidden camera prank on MLB (“We’ve replaced the Red Sox #4 starter with a batting practice pitcher from a nearby community college. Let’s see if anyone notices.”). Alvarez is the guy who looks amazing in side sessions, and the kind of guy who will never lack a job. But both are remarkable for the way that they’ve opted out of baseball’s ever-increasing K% style. They do their own thing, and as unsuccessful as it is, there’s something admirable about that.

Felix Hernandez is pitching for the M’s, so I don’t even need to push the fiction that Alvarez is worth watching just because he’s different. Felix Hernandez is a mystery, and he is exceedingly rare as well. He is also 500x more watchable than Alvarez, or really any other pitcher in baseball save the Verlander, Strasburg, Kershaw elites.

The line-up:
1: Ackley
2: Gutierrez
3: Seager
4: Jaso (C)
5: Saunders
6: Smoak
7: Jimenez (DH)
8: Peguero
9: Ryan
SP: Felix
That’s 7 lefties in 9 spots.

The Southern League Championship Series continues tonight between Jackson and Mobile, with Tai Walker on the hill for the Generals against ground-baller Bradin Hagen of the BayBears. The Generals dropped game 1game 2 last night by a score of 7-2 despite two hits from both Stefan Romero and Brad Miller. They won game 1 8-1 behind a dominant James Paxton start. As an aside, I find it somewhat disappointing that Bear Bay hasn’t pitched for the BayBears.

High Desert’s season ended on Tuesday with a Cal League playoff loss to Lancaster. In all, the M’s affiliates in the Northwest League, Midwest League, Cal League, and Southern Leagues made the playoffs.

Comments

32 Responses to “Game 144, Mariners at Blue Jays”

  1. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 3:12 pm

    Marc, I am pretty sure Jackson dropped Game 2 last night (not Game 1) … and the Series is currently tied at a game apiece.

    Today’s lineup: I was happy to believe that Peguero was not actually on the team any longer. Notice, I said what “I” believed.

    I will be watching the game while simultaneously re-evaluating my belief system.

    Drayer had reported (or played a tape of Wedge saying) that the team wanted to get an extended look at Carp … thus the reason why he had been in the lineup the past two games. Apparently, two consecutive games was the extent of the matter, and I now must fight through the additional burden of my belief system having to come to grips with the fact that Smoak is also still hanging around. Apparently, there wasn’t enough data on him, already.

    The “he might just run into one” mantra appears to still be alive and well.

  2. Jordan on September 13th, 2012 3:14 pm

    I don’t care if Peguero swings left and Alvarez is throwing batting practice, he still shouldn’t be holding a bat in an actual game. If Jimenez isn’t in the future plans, he shouldn’t be getting more than pinch hit at bats either..that goes for anyone. These next 3 weeks are to evaluate players and finish respectably at .500. Peguero’s lack of pitch recognition and defensive ineptitude do not need to be evaluated.

  3. Ms4Life on September 13th, 2012 3:20 pm

    Reporter: “So Eric, why are Smoak, Jiminez, and Peguero hitting back-to-back-to-back?”

    Wedge: “Well you see…I figured since Felix is on the mound all I need is one or two Dingers. I instructed everyone to aim for the fences. Remember what happened last time Chone Figgins faced Alvarez? Dinger. Who instructed him to do that? Me. Bingo-bango-bongo. Get after it!”

  4. Westside guy on September 13th, 2012 3:23 pm

    Problem is, against a crap pitcher – guys like Peguero and Smoak are much more likely to have a good game. Then we’ll be inflicted with seeing lots more of them, along with mucho “anal-ysis” talking about Smoak’s tighter swing and Carlos’ better pitch recognition.

    The talking heads seem to love drawing conclusions based on a single game’s results, and then writing off the (very predictable) 6 subsequent bad games as a “slump” or “work in progress”. The good single game is always the true talent level of a player, not all those other meaningless bad games.

    Seriously, both guys destroy AAA pitching, and it sounds like we’re facing AAA pitching. Don’t be too surprised if they do well.

  5. Jordan on September 13th, 2012 3:27 pm

    I’m so used to fog in Seattle I don’t even notice when there’s Smoak.

  6. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 3:29 pm

    I await Wedge to give Peguero the bunt sign tonight (hopefully more than once) – thereby giving us a chance to see all of his offensive skills on display.

    Everyone can decide on their own how to best enunciate the word “offensive.”

    Okay Westy – reverse jinx factors are now in play. And I see – above – that you have sealed the deal.

  7. marc w on September 13th, 2012 3:50 pm

    You’re right Mike… I’d unaccountably slid Paxton’s great night to the Chat. series.

  8. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 4:14 pm

    Man, I thought attendance at Safeco was down. Toronto seems to be having their problems as well.

    Here comes Felix!

  9. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 4:28 pm

    Tie it up, Saunders! Pick up your pitcher.

  10. Westside guy on September 13th, 2012 4:35 pm

    Hey, Davis just Peguero-ed a hit by Peguero!!

  11. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 4:35 pm

    Love the unbiased commentary I’m hearing from the mlbtv guys.

    Wow, they scored that a double for Peggy? That should have been an error.

  12. djw on September 13th, 2012 4:35 pm

    Just a terrible play by Davis. Yikes.

  13. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 4:35 pm

    Thank you Rajai Davis!

  14. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 4:37 pm

    Hey, maybe that explains some of Alvarez’s bad stats?!

  15. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 4:43 pm

    Is it just me, or does Felix look uncomfortable? He’s hung quite a few pitches already.

  16. Westside guy on September 13th, 2012 4:46 pm

    Wish I could see him, Steve, but I’m stuck on radio for the time being. Certainly the results are atypical.

  17. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 4:52 pm

    Damn, what’s up with Toronto showin’ glove?

  18. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 4:54 pm

    That last question was directed at you, Westy!

  19. Westside guy on September 13th, 2012 4:55 pm

    hahahaha

  20. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 5:15 pm

    Crap, that was ugly.

  21. Westside guy on September 13th, 2012 5:20 pm

    Yeah, let’s move Seager off third.

  22. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 5:26 pm

    Damn you Mike, you jinxed Felix with your comment last night!

  23. jephdood on September 13th, 2012 5:28 pm

    WTF Felix??

  24. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 5:28 pm

    3 bad September starts in a row … On a team that is technically playing out the string. Is it time to talk about shutting Felix down for the rest of the season?

  25. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 5:30 pm

    Yeah, I know Steve. I thought the Encarnacion “cap” on home runs comment would have done the trick since so many of my other comments have resonated well with the team, already.

  26. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 5:31 pm

    I doubt they’d shut him down, even if it was the right thing to do. I know I wouldn’t feel good seeing his season end on a low note, but he has had a good year overall.

  27. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 5:36 pm

    You know I was teasing about the jinx. If anything, you should get credit for recognizing the HR threat.
    I joked about it last night, but maybe they should just be intentionally walking him?!

  28. msfanmike on September 13th, 2012 5:45 pm

    I know you were teasing, Steve. I thought it was funny, actually.

  29. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 6:14 pm

    So, show of hands (comments), who fell asleep?

  30. stevemotivateir on September 13th, 2012 6:25 pm

    WAKE UP!!! YOU’RE LATE FOR WORK!!!!

  31. bookbook on September 13th, 2012 6:28 pm

    So, given what Paxton, and now Walker are doing in the playoffs, is there some possibility they were simply bored by normal AA games? Nice of them to restore some hope for the future here, in any event.

  32. Westside guy on September 13th, 2012 7:25 pm

    I didn’t fall asleep – I had to catch the bus (and then the train) home. Plus my phone battery was getting low, and with the Mariners getting creamed it just didn’t make sense to risk killing what was left of my battery… :-D

    So much for the talk about a second Cy Young for Felix, though. :-(

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