Catcus League Game 7, Rangers at Mariners
James Paxton vs. A Ranger, 12:05
After a few successful but disorienting road games, the M’s return to Peoria to luxuriate in the warm, pocket-protected embrace of pitch fx. OK, they probably don’t care, but after a few days of tape delayed radio and no pitch-by-pitch data, I’m more excited than I have any reason to be that both Paxton and Brandon Maurer figure to pitch today in Peoria.
The M’s continue to slug the ball, and their pitching’s (mostly) been solid as well. They look to continue that against division rival Texas today. The Rangers have struggled so far this spring, which just shows that their peak has passed, and that they’ll aGAHR (sorry, Dave’s rigged this so a cattle prod shocks me if I start reading things into spring stats). After losing 5 straight, the Rangers pounded Cleveland yesterday 10-0 behind Derek Holland and dozens of other, less MLB-like pitchers. Elvis Andrus has been held out of a few games to allow his massive portrait tattoo to heal, but he’ll be back in the line-up today, before heading off to join the World Baseball Classic tomorrow. Nelson Cruz was scheduled to join the DR team on Saturday, but was felled by chest pains last night – the team thinks it’s an abdominal/chest muscle strain, but they took him to the hospital just to be safe.
In yesterday’s game, Nick Franklin deposited a Matt Cain pitch over the berm in deep right-center. Jon Garland got through an inning on 21 pitches and his arm’s still attached, so that’s progress of a sort. Blake Beavan missed bats (?), induced a flurry of ground balls (??), before giving up a long home run (oh, ok). All in all though, Beavan’s gotten reasonably good results with his new arm slot – I’d be worried that a change like this could reduce his one marketable skill: impeccable control. That hasn’t happened to date, and coupling the angle with more two-seamers could help him avoid so many fly balls. That’s important not only because his HR rate is single-handedly keeping him at/near replacement level and because his OF figures to contain a lot of Mike Morse/Raul Ibanez this year.
James Paxton starts today, as he looks to build on a so-so appearance on Feb. 24th. It was a scoreless inning, he got a punchout, but his velocity and stuff seemed to be a step behind that of his fellow prospects like Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer and Taijuan Walker. Now that’s an exceedingly high bar to clear, and it’s not like he was Joe Saunders out there. And as I think I hear the cattle prod charging again, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is the peril of Pitch FX: reading too much into an inning, in February, just because, well, what else are you going to do with the data? I’ll be thrilled to see Paxton sitting in the low-90s, working in the occasional change-up with his traditional FB/CU mix. Brandon Maurer figures to pitch as well, and that should be exciting as well. Anthony Fernandez and Andrew Carraway may pitch too.
1: Ackley, 2B
2: Bay, DH
3: Morales, 1B
4: Morse, RF
5: Saunders, CF
6: Shoppach, C
7: Peguero, LF
8: Andino, 3B
9: Ryan, SS
SP: James Paxton
Good to see Ackley/Ryan, but Andino at 3B is a bit underwhelming.