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.


70 Responses to “Game 154, Mariners at Angels”

  1. 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?!

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

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

    And Smoak is really complicating things for sure.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

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

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


  9. 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… 😀

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

    Ha ha poor Marc.

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

    Capps throws hard. I like it.

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

    We need for Smoak to have a chance to hit!


    What did I just type!!!!


  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

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

  20. 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.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.