Game 151, Rangers at Mariners

marc w · September 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Martin Perez, 7:10pm

It’s odd when you look forward to playing one of the better teams in baseball, but I’m pretty sick of playing the magical birds from Baltimore. Dave’s post on the in-game strategy is spot on, but it marked the second time in as many days that the M’s made completely bizarre moves in the late innings. Wedge hasn’t excelled in in-game strategy, but he also hasn’t been shockingly, aggressively bad either. Couple an entire series’ worth of ill-timed, ill-fated bunts, Jasoless pinch-hitting and the stolen base call, then add it to an errant pick-off throw that somehow didn’t hurt the Orioles after it plunked the first base coach in the gut and rolled back to the first basemen and the conclusion is clear: the Orioles are actually magic. The Rangers are merely excellent at baseball; the Orioles are excellent at conjuring and mind-control. No contest.

The Rangers come in on a high after two solid wins over their rivals, the Angels. They haven’t mathematically clinched anything, but the AL West race is essentially over. CoolStandings and Baseball Prospectus have the Rangers playoff odds at 99.9% and 100%, respectively. It’s in that context that the Rangers turn to 21-year old lefty Martin Perez, who replaces Scott Feldman and will make his 4th MLB start tonight. Perez has been a prospect so long, Baseball America may name its top 100 list after him. Despite great stuff – a good curve ball, a solid change-up, above average velocity – Perez tended to disappoint statistically, especially in the high minors. He seemed like a classic tools-prospect bust; a guy lingering on prospect lists out of inertia. This was especially true after his May start at Cheney Stadium in which he gave up 7 runs in two atrocious innings. At that point, his fastball was in the 89-92 range, and his change wasn’t good enough to fool minor-league righthanders.

Injuries forced him to the Rangers not long after, but I had him down in my own mind as the Rangers’ version of Carlos Triunfel, a prospect who was famous for being a prospect as opposed to someone who could help the big club win. Now, several months into his career as a bullpen lefty/spot starter, he’s been far better than I would have thought. He hasn’t been excellent, but his stuff’s better than it was, with 92-94mph fastballs and a better curve. In recent appearances, the velocity’s down a tad, but he’s still a far sight better than he was in May. He uses a four-seam fastball (primarily to lefties) and a two-seamer/sinker (to righties) both around 92-93mph, along with a curve in the 75mph range and a change-up at 83mph. Like many, he uses the change more to right-handers and uses the curve (and a rare slider) on lefties. The change isn’t actually his put-away pitch; he uses it more when he’s behind in the count. This may indicate that he’s more confident in his control with the pitch, as walks have been a problem for him for years.

Perez shows clear, persistent platoon splits, so the M’s need to get right-handers some at-bats tonight. Over the past two years in the minors, he put up a 3.29 FIP vs. lefties and a 4.42 FIP against righties. He’s walked more right-handed batters than he’s K’d, and his overall line would look worse if his BABIP regressed towards the mean, so this is a good match-up for someone like Casper Wells and Jesus Montero. Of course, Perez just faced the M’s a week ago and dominated them, so who knows. He faced a middle of the order on that day that included Seager, Jaso, Saunders and Thames, so that certainly helped.

Iwakuma’s looking to finish the season strong after a bad game against Oakland and mixed results in Texas last week. His velocity’s surprisingly unchanged for a pitcher coming off injury and pitching more frequently; his last start in Texas looked low, but the pitch fx velo numbers seem consistently low there. Still, this is a great test – playing a good line-up for the second time in as many weeks. He faced the Angels twice in about 3 weeks, and shut them out for 7 innings the second time, so it’s not like other teams automatically ‘book’ him. He’s a crafty pitcher who’s ability to learn from the hitters and adapt to them has been more impressive than his splitter.

The line-up:
1: Ackley
2: Gutierrez
3: Seager
4: Montero (DH)
5: Smoak
6: Saunders
7: Olivo (C)
8: Wells
9: Triunfel
SP: Iwakuma


10 Responses to “Game 151, Rangers at Mariners”

  1. marc w on September 21st, 2012 9:36 pm

    So I wrote this hours ago, and I thought it had gone out around 5:45, and I check in on the game thread and there doesn’t appear to be one… I apologize. I was confident this had published but I didn’t double check, and now this is dated. But if any of you is the least bit interestedin what I wrote before this game, half a day ago, uh, here you go.

  2. Jordan on September 21st, 2012 9:41 pm

    Marc you do great work, thanks. Not particularly interested in the results of this game and spring training can’t start soon enough, but you don’t happen to know if Ackley got hurt or if Wedge just felt like getting Liddi in there do you? Of course Gameday doesn’t say if he was hurt and I can’t remember the last time a player was switched out in the 3rd inning…

  3. msfanmike on September 21st, 2012 9:51 pm

    Jordan: the report on Ackley was that he left the game with a stiff neck. Ryan was left out of today’s lineup with a limp bat.

  4. tmac9311 on September 21st, 2012 9:55 pm

    I know RBIs aren’t a good way to measure a player’s value, but Olivo really only has 29 RBIs with 12 homers? You don’t need advance statistics to know he’s been bad with those kind of numbers, good grief.

  5. californiamariner on September 21st, 2012 10:09 pm

    Maybe the Mariners can trick another team into thinking Smoak has turned it around and trade him 😀

  6. Soda Popinski on September 22nd, 2012 12:52 am

    BP is a joke when it comes to playoff odds and coolstandings is even worse. Around early August, A’s were a half game up on the Angels, yet BP had them eighteen times LESS likely to win the division compared to the Angels. Ridiculous order of magnitude.

    BP is a great resource for some things, but worthless when it comes to playoff odds. ESPN constantly quoting coolstandings as The Bible when it comes to playoff chances shows how little statistical effort they put in out there in Bristol.

  7. currcoug on September 22nd, 2012 7:40 am

    …and so it continues…Shin Soo Choo, Matt Thornton, Mike Morse, Blake Beavan, Jesus Montero, and now Carlos Triunfel.

    Bring back Langerhans!

    I would much rather watch Triunfel (“some natural talent”)…than the anemic/regressing Ryan (.307 OPS in September, .518 OPS post All-Star break).

    I have a hard time believing the M’s are going to remove Triunfel from the 40 man roster. Still, this is Seattle, where players are written off, only to succeed elsewhere in MLB. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Cleveland had interest in yet another Mariner infielder.

    For one game at least, Triunfel proved he can win games for a big league club with his bat, glove and arm.

  8. Don Money on September 22nd, 2012 8:47 am

    Bill James was on NPR this morning and, among other things, stated that the disparity in payrolls in baseball will be gone within five years because of the new agreement’s penalties on overspending and the more even dispersal of revenue. Has anyone else heard this stated as strongly?

  9. bookbook on September 22nd, 2012 10:32 am

    Triunfel may well be the M’s 9th- most promising middle infielder at the moment. We wouldn’t want to have another Mike Morse on our hands, however. Keep him on the 40-man at the expense of a better prospect.

    [(Ryan, Ackley, Seager, Franklin, Miller, Romero, Marder, Taylor, Triunfel.) Actually, four of those probably don’t need to go on the 40-man (Miller, Romero, Marder, and Taylor). Triunfel may be in.]

  10. mwb on September 22nd, 2012 11:37 am

    Since this game thread never really became a game thread…

    add it to an errant pick-off throw that somehow didn’t hurt the Orioles after it plunked the first base coach in the gut and rolled back to the first basemen

    That play didn’t make me laugh when I saw it, but reading that did. So I guess it’s not all bad. Also, anything that puts some kind of pressure on the Yankees is a plus in my books.

    And, here’s to hoping the M’s can help keep the Angels out of the postseason.

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