Cactus League Game 6, Mariners at Giants
Jon Garland vs. Matt Cain, 12:05
Yesterday, the M’s got a glimpse of their future, with Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker throwing four scoreless innings and drawing rave reviews from scouts (Walker more than Hultzen). Today, the M’s show their versatility by pairing the formerly steady, unspectacular Jon Garland with the human pitching machine known as Blake Beavan. When Garland was a healthy innings-eater, he used a low-90s four-seamer to get a lot of flyouts and pop-ups. From 2009 through his injury-marred 2011, he worked in a sinker, and reinvented himself a bit as a ground-ball guy, though he wasn’t healthy enough to see how that evolution played out. With all the talk of Beavan’s new arm-angle and his own increasing use of a sinking two-seam fastball, it appears the Texan may be attempting a similar transformation. Still, after the excitement of yesterday, this game feels a bit like a letdown. Ask a scout about Tai Walker, and you’ll get pages of rapturous text, analogies to the happiest moments in their lives, digressions on the nature of beauty, all on pages stained with tears of joy. Ask a scout about Blake Beavan, and he’ll hand you a blank sheet of beige paper.
The big story yesterday wasn’t so much Taijuan’s velocity, though the radio broadcast did mention he hit 98 and scouts said he worked at 96 with regularity, but his use of a cut fastball/slider that sat in the low-90s. Walker had mentioned that he’d picked up the pitch late in 2012, but obviously hadn’t had a chance to throw too many of them. That he did so against (mostly) MLB hitters yesterday was a good sign. Walker is the latest in a string of pitchers that ex-Jackson Pitching Coach Lance Painter’s taught to throw this pitch, and the latest who’s seemingly picked it up quite quickly. Andrew Carraway talked about it in our interview with him, and it seemingly helped Stephen Pryor get his career back on track after a disastrous half-year in High Desert. Painter’s moved to High Desert this year to be closer to home, and it’ll be interesting to see how the M’s view sending pitchers to that inhospitable environment. If Walker’s new cutter is any indication, Painter’s established himself as one of the most important members of the player development group.
Also today, lefty Brian Moran and his teasingly slow fastball should get some work, as should electric-armed righty Carter Capps. The parade of new pitchers throughout a game has to be a bit tough for hitters who play an entire game, but I can’t imagine facing Moran in the 5th and then Capps in your next AB in the 7th.
1: Gutierrez, DH
2: Thames, LF
3: Wells, RF
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Montero, C
6: Morban, CF
7: Liddi, 3B
8: Franklin, 2B
9: Miller, SS
His future with the M’s is uncertain, but Wells is certainly getting some opportunities this spring. It’s also good to see Nick Franklin and Brad Miller get a start against a really tough MLB pitcher in Cain. Julio Morban makes his first start, and his first in CF.
Once again, the radio broadcast will be tape delayed and played at 7pm, but the audio is live on gameday and at Mariners.com.