Players Remain Trapped in Cactus League They Do Not Understand: Rangers at Mariners
Blake Beavan vs. Justin Grimm, 1:05pm
Yesterday Erasmo Ramirez pitched six excellent innings, showing he could remain effective deep into games and logging the longest pitching performance of the Spring. Blake Beavan tries to match that today in a home start versus Texas. Felix Hernandez will get some innings in, but he’ll play in a minor league game so the Rangers don’t get too familiar with him, though there is the matter of him having faced the Rangers dozens of times in his career. Still, Cactus League can’t be understood using traditional logic. MLB logic is to spring training as Beethoven is to Indonesian gamelan.
Blake Beavan is clearly a step behind Jon Garland and/or Jeremy Bonderman in the race for the #5 spot (I’m going to tell myself that Erasmo has the #4 spot locked-up. I don’t believe it’s that cut and dried, but I don’t want to worry about that today.), but he’s had a very interesting spring. For the second straight season, he’s increased his arm angle, meaning he’s delivering the pitch from a more over-the-top angle and less side-arm. I’d forgotten this, but when he came up, his pitch fx-recorded release point was under 6 feet (5.6′). That’s kind of remarkable given Beavan is 6’7″ tall and starting from a mound. He moved that average release point up significantly last year (to 5.9-6′), and so far in Spring, it’s up even more – to 6.3′. That doesn’t mean that his pitches have less horizontal movement though – the way Stephen Pryor or even Felix Hernandez’s do. Instead, he’s getting more armside run on his sinker and fastball. Whether this is good, bad or indifferent remains to be seen, but Beavan wanted to change in this offseason, and thus far, it looks like he’s actually changed. His sinker always generated some groundballs, but his four-seamer was an extreme fly-ball pitch, and since it was put into play so often, Beavan was a fly-ball pitcher overall. The sample’s tiny, but Beavan’s four-seamer is getting a few more GBs thus far. It’s something to track, even if he starts the year in Tacoma.
Some good news: Franklin Gutierrez returns to the line-up today. The M’s have helpfully put Ibanez and Jason Bay in the OF corners to give Blake more motivation to stay on top of the ball and keep it down in the zone, however.
1: Gutierrez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Ibanez, LF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Bay, RF
7: Shoppach, C
8: Ackley, 2B
9: Andino, SS