Game 154, Mariners at Angels

marc w · September 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Erasmo Ramirez vs. Zack Greinke, 7:05pm

It’s time once again for a “Pitcher A, B, C” comparison, the lifeblood of the baseball blog. Take your valid concerns about sample size, selective endpoints and selective measures and lock them away for a minute. The M’s are going to finish last in their division for the third consecutive year, and silly comparisons based on small samples are something we can cling to in the long night of the offseason. Sure, I’d rather think about the M’s player development system’s myriad success stories and how they herald a competitive M’s team in 2013 and beyond, but the record there is mixed. You know what’s not ambiguous? This:

Player: Pitcher A Pitcher B Pitcher C
K% 23.7 23.4 19.9
BB% 3.0 5.8 7.1
FIP 2.73 2.91 3.95
xFIP 3.25 3.24 3.91
GB% 35.1 48.5 43.2
IFFB% 15.4 10.3 10.3
Strike% 67.5 65.1 62.3
Contact% 77.3 77.0 79.2

Pitchers A and B are pretty similar in their results, but different in their batted-ball profile. Pitcher C seems like a step behind across the board. That A and B have good walk rates makes sense, as both are comfortably above the league average strike rate for starters of 62.5%. So who are they?

Pitcher A is Erasmo Ramirez, Pitcher B is Felix Hernandez and Pitcher C is Erasmo’s opponent today, Zack Greinke. Caveat time: these are Erasmo’s stats *as a starter* and this is Greinke’s line with the Angels only. I’m taking Ramirez’s 6 starts because he really seems like a different pitcher since joining the rotation, and since his call-up in September. We’ll get to that in a second. I only included Greinke’s AL stint since it gets tougher to compare K rates when one pitcher’s in the AL and the other’s facing pitchers each game. Incidentally, Felix’s stats were compiled in well over 200 innings and stacks up quite nicely with a strong six-start run from Erasmo (or AJ Griffin, etc.). Felix is completely amazing.

The Erasmo Ramirez we’ve seen in September’s similar to the version we saw in April-May-June, but he’s made some key adjustments that seem to be paying dividends. First, he’s using his change-up far more often; he used it about 18% of the time before going down to Tacoma in June, and he’s using it over 30% of the time now. Second, his velocity’s not only holding up despite moving into the rotation, it’s getting better. He averaged 93mph with his fastball in his last start against Baltimore, and averaged 91-92mph in his first *relief* appearance in Seattle back in April. We knew he could touch 94 or even 95 on occasion, but he was hitting 94-95 with regularity deep in games with the Rainiers, and that stamina’s carried over with the M’s.

Ramirez has an interesting approach in that he’s a very different pitcher against righties and lefties. Against righties, he uses his fastball more and gets fewer strikeouts but more grounders and pop-ups and very few walks. Against lefties, he uses a blizzard of change-ups to generate a lot of strikeouts, while keeping his walks low. Another nice approach, just a very different one. Of course, all of this is based on tiny samples of MLB data, but it seems to match his minor league numbers too: in the minors in 2011-12 combined, his GB% was 10 percentage points higher against righties, while his strikeout and walk rates were 4 and 3 percentage points lower (respectively). His slider’s been better since his return though it’s still not a real chase pitch, which means Erasmo could get *better*. Right now, his change-up’s been about the equal of Felix’s statistically. It’s generating ridiculous contact rates, and he hasn’t really thrown a bad one since the hanging change that Josh Hamilton hit out way back in Erasmo’s major league debut. That may regress towards the mean a bit, but Erasmo has a weapon. Sure, his strike% is actually a bit better than Blake Beavan’s, but Erasmo’s got swing-and-miss stuff. If his slider continues to develop, look out.

Zack Greinke been solid but unspectacular since coming over to the Angels. His ERA and W-L records are fine, but he hasn’t been a dominant force that could help the Angels track down the A’s. This isn’t his fault any more than CJ Wilson’s a-bit-above-average season’s the reason the Angels find themselves in 3rd. But it’s a useful reminder that deadline deals and free-agent pick ups can’t win divisions by themselves. Greinke’s been good – his velocity’s right where it has been, his contact rate’s still above average, but I wonder what Angels fans think about the move in hindsight. It was a solid, aggressive play from a team looking to get better return on their investment in Wilson and Pujols, and it nearly worked out – I don’t think anyone in the front office is kicking themselves over it – but the Angels playoff odds sit under 25% right now, despite being only 2 games behind Oakland. I’ll just say that Angels fans will think a lot more highly of the trade if Greinke’s able to shut the M’s down tonight.

The line-up:
1: Ackley
2: Gutierrez
3: Seager
4: Jaso (DH)
5: Smoak
6: Saunders
7: Olivo (C)
8: Robinson
9: Ryan
SP: Erasmooooo

Today’s an important date in baseball history. On this date in 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe transferred a tendon from Tommy John’s right wrist into the hurler’s left elbow, and completed the first ulnal collateral ligament reconstruction, AKA Tommy John surgery.

Comments

70 Responses to “Game 154, Mariners at Angels”

  1. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 5:17 pm

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been real excited to see more of Ramirez. He kind of escaped the spotlight this spring with Hultzen, Paxton, and Walker drawing so much attention, but really, he’s been more deserving. He could be a solid number three pitcher in the rotation. Hope he out-duals Greinke tonight!

  2. henryv on September 25th, 2012 5:50 pm

    You can flame me for my stupid comments, but I’ve been thinking a lot about steroids, surgeries, and technology in sports.

    And then the Tommy John surgery reminded me of it, if that’s okay.

    So, it would be assumed that attaching a new (or moving a) muscle (were it possible) would be against the rules of baseball, and yet replacing a ligament that has been damaged is acceptable.

    Would replacing a ligament with a more sound piece of synthetic fiber be acceptable? What about a fiber that allowed greater torque to be applied than could be applied on any natural ligament? That would seem to be a violation of the “ethics” of sports, I would think.

    So, what about titanium pins that are far tougher than bone? I suppose it would repair an injured bone, but could also be used to improve the structure of a healthy one. While this might be unreasonable now, it might not be that far away, especially given the poor state of modern American’s bones, and how cures for osteoporosis could lead to infusion of bones with metals.

    And so that leads me to steroid treatments. Steroids are great at helping you recover from injuries, almost regardless of how severe they are. And yet, often baseball players are found to have taken steroids (often illegally, without prescriptions) during their rehab, which is a violation of the rules. Why would we want to limit the recovery of a baseball player?

    Or just say shut up. Or use it for filler material as the M’s try to avoid yet another losing season.

  3. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 6:12 pm

    Marc, thank you for another wonderful write up! I find this stuff fascinating. I always feel more edjumacated after reading one of your game thread intros. :-D

  4. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 6:32 pm

    Mivhael Saunders is a scratch due to his wife giving birth. Thames now in right.

    Hopefully Guti feels like doing a lot of running tonight.

  5. Rainiers_fan on September 25th, 2012 6:45 pm

    I really like what Erasmo has done since his return. His change looks fantastic and he has remarkable poise and control. I hadn’t thought of him in relation to Felix. That just sounds absurd on face value so seeing numbers was eye opening even over a relatively small span of games. No doubt about it, he is definitely in the conversation as a potential rotation member next year and as a good cost controlled option to boot.

    Henry, your comments are always well thought out and have value. I am not sure if this one meets the site guidleines but you aren’t making accusations or stating anything negative so hopefully they are OK.

  6. californiamariner on September 25th, 2012 7:11 pm

    I will take great pleasure in screwing the Angels playoff hopes if that can happen. And with Erasmo, Felix, Iwakuma going we have a good chance.

    Nice AB going by Ackley, too bad he couldn’t finish it off.

  7. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 7:27 pm

    Thames, a decent fielder would’ve caught Hunter’s “hit”.

  8. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 7:29 pm

    I’m starting to think our biggest hole is leadoff. Sure, we need someone at cleanup with good power, but need a reliable guy getting on base a ton, ideally hitting close to .300. Too much waiting til we got 2 outs to get hits and depending on a Seager 2-out RBI.

  9. californiamariner on September 25th, 2012 7:33 pm

    No way they should have got 2 runs out of that.. Shouldn’t have got any.. But on the positive, Erasmo looks good and they didn’t hit him very hard.

  10. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 7:38 pm

    Haha, crap hit by Olivo but it ended up being a double, so good for him!

    If that’d been Montero, it would’ve been a single – assuming they didn’t throw him out at first. :-P

  11. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 7:45 pm

    Nice catch, Thames.

    But you owed us.

  12. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:01 pm

    Hard not to like Trout. Hits well, runs hard… just wish he wasn’t in an Angels uniform.

  13. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 8:02 pm

    Hunter has had a phenomenal age 37 season. Just wish he wasn’t in an Angels uniform.

  14. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:04 pm

    Yes he has. Wonder if the Angels extend him for a couple more.

  15. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:12 pm

    Wonder what kind of contract Greinke will get in the off-season. He’s arguably the best pitcher on the market.

  16. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:13 pm

    Smoak!!!

  17. Carson on September 25th, 2012 8:14 pm

    SMOAK BOMB (MAYBE)!

  18. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 8:14 pm

    Smoak???

  19. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:16 pm

    That pitch was middle-in, no excuse not to hit that one hard.

  20. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:17 pm

    Wow, just realized how high Greinke’s pitch count is. He could be chased-out early.

  21. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 8:19 pm

    A replay review executed effectively? I wonder when the NFL might have an effective system in place?

    Yep, bitter Packer fan – here.

    And yes, there were a dozen other calls “boned” last night – both ways.

  22. stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2012 8:20 pm

    That should have been an error, but congrats to Olivo.

  23. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 8:21 pm

    Wait – that WASN’T an error?!

    hahahahaha

  24. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 8:23 pm

    Those Angels are shining on defense tonight.

  25. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 8:30 pm

    Ryan has no idea what to do with a breaking pitch from Greinke. He struck out on a 57 footer. Swing and hope.

  26. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 8:34 pm

    That was an error by the scorer, Westy

  27. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 8:35 pm

    I have the sound off because my daughters doing her homework – makes it a little harder to follow everything. :-D

  28. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 8:35 pm

    Ackley!

  29. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 8:36 pm

    No, I meant the scorer made a mistake if they called it a hit.

  30. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 8:36 pm

    Error by the scorer… do I record that as an E-S on my scorecard?

  31. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 8:37 pm

    Exactly! Also, they need to keep track of E-Umpire.

  32. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 8:41 pm

    Ackley is well on his way to being “golden” before the night is over.

    Crikey.

  33. justinh on September 25th, 2012 8:50 pm

    Well, Jeff Trout whom is the father of Mike, said a few months ago that he was told via many conversations with clubs that Mike would be a Seattle Mariner.

    In fact, Tom McNamara liked him so much they almost took him #2 overall as a friend who is a scout in the organization finally showed me an email written in 2010 that basically said never question Tom.

  34. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 8:52 pm

    Are you trying to make us cry, Justin?

  35. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 8:57 pm

    Yeah, he’s having a heck of an age-37 season all right…

  36. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 8:59 pm

    PHEW. Still, uh oh

  37. justinh on September 25th, 2012 9:01 pm

    I’m crying myself and just wanted to share the misery.

    But there is good news, as we long expected T-Mac was on it and it shows just how great he is. Most important person to the M’s org.

  38. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:12 pm

    I don’t understand what Thames was trying to do with that deke throw in after Aybar hit a really obvious homer.

  39. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 9:15 pm

    Please find out how muchT-Mac was “on” Steven Baron … If you can.

  40. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:17 pm

    Finally a leadoff hit

  41. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:18 pm

    Our lineup is doing what it’s supposed to do!

  42. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:19 pm

    Guti’s hit two doubles in a row in pretty much exactly the same spot.

  43. justinh on September 25th, 2012 9:20 pm

    I have no idea if it was Mac who liked Baron, but the guy has been pretty money in his evaluation.

    If you are criticizing Tom McNamara, you are an idiot!

  44. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:21 pm

    Seager has to work on his 0-out hitting :)

  45. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:23 pm

    Ooh, name calling.

    Please don’t do that.

  46. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 9:24 pm

    I was just wondering if you could find out – since you have a source. Long day, Justin?

  47. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:25 pm

    Whoa. I just realized Wedge is allowing Jaso to face a lefty.

  48. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:28 pm

    SMOAK!

  49. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:28 pm

    Seriously, Westy

  50. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:29 pm

    Wow! SMOAK!

  51. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 9:29 pm

    Well, it’s a good day for at least one guy names Justin.

    Smoak with a blast from each side of the plate?!

  52. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:32 pm

    I am seriously irritated with Justin Smoak. It’s so bloody obvious he has talent – so why has he sucked so much?

  53. californiamariner on September 25th, 2012 9:43 pm

    I know Trout is great and everything and probably going to be the best or one of the best players for the next decade. However, is a .377 BABIP really sustainable for him? I haven’t seen anybody bring this up as everyone seems to be in awe of him, but is it possible he has been a little lucky? I know he hits the ball hard and all, but I believe I have seen Dave say that this high of a BABIP is not sustainable for anybody.

  54. californiamariner on September 25th, 2012 9:44 pm

    And Smoak is really complicating things for sure.

  55. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:47 pm

    For August and September, Trout’s BABIP is about .330, and he still attained a wOBA of roughly .370.

    Dude’s good. And while I’m not even remotely an expert, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to sustain a BABIP of .320-.330.

  56. californiamariner on September 25th, 2012 9:52 pm

    Yeah, I just noticed that his average, on base, slugging has come down a bit in the last two months. Maybe its just the BABIP coming down to normal. He has 129 strikeouts. I’m just thinking that average around .350 isn’t going to be normal for him. Not taking anything away from him, he’s obviously a phenomenal player.

  57. DarkKnight1680 on September 25th, 2012 9:53 pm

    It is concerning that as he bats right now Ackley has a lower OPS than Smoak.

  58. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:54 pm

    UGH

  59. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 9:55 pm

    But yeah – you take a guy who’s obviously a very talented player to start with and tack on a BABIP of .400+ for a while… :-D

  60. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 9:58 pm

    Sucks that Ackley has 4 K’s, but 5 hits from the top of the order is nice. We need way more of that.

  61. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 10:00 pm

    18 K’s after 8 innings. It seems that most of them have come on hard breaking balls well out of (below) the zone. The Angels have obviously found a huge weakness with the Mariner hitters. And they are exploiting it.

  62. marc w on September 25th, 2012 10:01 pm

    So Greinke becomes the 1st pitcher in 90+ years to get 15 Ks in 5 IP the day I say his K% doesn’t match up to Erasmo/Felix, and the M’s whiff on something like 22 of 46 swings when I point out his contact rate’s just average to good.

    I’ve had it with the M’s ruining a perfectly good game thread narrative with crap like this.

  63. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 10:05 pm

    You might have a little of the reverse Cameron mojo curse in real time working against you. Sanitize your keyboard and try a double re-boot. These things have a way of stabilizing over time.

  64. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 10:09 pm

    Ha ha poor Marc.

  65. DarkKnight1680 on September 25th, 2012 10:09 pm

    Capps throws hard. I like it.

  66. msfanmike on September 25th, 2012 10:13 pm

    We need for Smoak to have a chance to hit!

    WHAT!!!

    What did I just type!!!!

    WTF

  67. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 10:15 pm

    I don’t understand why the Angels subbed Vernon Wells in for Bourjos.

    It’s certainly not for any defensive reason.

    Or any offensive reason.

  68. Westside guy on September 25th, 2012 10:18 pm

    Maybe there’s some karmic rule that says the team as a whole cannot hit if Justin Smoak is able to hit.

  69. The_Waco_Kid on September 25th, 2012 10:18 pm

    I don’t understand how Ackley, Trayvon, and Ryan could strike out so much.

  70. bookbook on September 25th, 2012 10:28 pm

    A 10 WAR/162 pace (or Whatever the dude’s on) is not sustainable for anybody. Trout will have years where he’s not the best player in the league. You heard it here first.

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