That’s More Like It, Cactus League: Clayton Kershaws at King Felixes

marc w · March 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

2010 AL Cy Young vs. 2011 NL Cy Young, 1:05pm

I don’t mind the fact that spring training involves lots of players who may one day become MLB-quality, or were fairly recently MLB quality. It’s part of the charm, and you’ve got to make that mental adjustment that sports fans are accustomed to making. As a prospect fan, it’s often more exciting to watch a Brandon Maurer step up rather than sitting through Joe Saunders-working-on-something sort of a start. That said, some times fate gives you Maurer vs. Votto and some times fate gives you Jeremy Bonderman vs. Sugar Ray Marimon. So while it *still* doesn’ t mean anything, and while opening day’s so close it makes it hard to concentrate on Arizona, today’s pitching match-up is pretty damn cool.

Felix pitched brilliantly in his last outing against the Padres, and Kershaw’s rounding into regular season form as well. The game’s in Peoria, so we can obsess on velocity readings if that’s your thing. If not, we’ll at least get a look at Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley facing one of the toughest lefties in the game. Kershaw’s interesting in that he’s got an extreme over-the-top delivery. His rising fastball from a high arm slot probably helps him against righties, as this type of pitch has lower platoon splits than a sinker coming from a lower arm slot. That said, his curve and slider are so good that he’s still got platoon splits. He’s quite good against righties, but his lack of a change-up (he’s got one, he just doesn’t throw it much) means his K rate is noticeably lower (though still above average!) against them.

1: Gutierrez, CF
2: Saunders, RF
3: Morales, 1B
4: Morse, DH
5: Montero, C
6: Bay, LF
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Andino, SS
9: Miller, 3B
SP: El Rey

Yesterday’s game would seem to doom Bonderman’s chances at making the opening day rotation. Not only did he get knocked around in the 5th, he came out in the 6th throwing in the mid-80s. This isn’t unexpected for a guy coming off surgery less than a year ago, but I hope it helps convince Bonderman to accept an assignment to Tacoma to begin the year. As a six-year MLB veteran, the M’s must give Bonderman $100,000 on top of his split contract to report to Tacoma, and I hope that’s enough to convince both sides its in their interest. A Bonderman-with-more-arm-strength could be useful depth at some point, and he could mentor James Paxton for a while as well. He also makes it a tiny bit less likely that Hector Noesi starts the year in Tacoma’s rotation. I’m not saying I want the M’s to cut him, but they need to figure out what’s wrong with Noesi’s approach without needlessly inflicting him on paying customers in Tacoma.

[UPDATE: According to Drayer, Divish, Johns, etc., the starting rotation is set: Felix, Iwakuma, Saunders, Maurer, Beavan. No word yet on whether Bonderman will accept an assignment to the minors.]


20 Responses to “That’s More Like It, Cactus League: Clayton Kershaws at King Felixes”

  1. tasupi on March 27th, 2013 12:05 pm

    Greg Johns says Maurer and Beavan make rotation.

  2. groundzero55 on March 27th, 2013 12:36 pm

    I’m cautiously optimistic. Beavan has a low ceiling, but so do most #5 starters. If Saunders can overcome his spring jitters and perform to his career averages, we just might be alright.

    I’ll be interested to see how Maurer responds to pitching in live games. If he struggles, well, we will have Erasmo waiting and maybe even Bonderman.

  3. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 12:52 pm

    Game today on 710 AM. No TV as far as I know.

  4. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 12:56 pm

    Bonderman officially reassigned to minor league camp.

  5. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 1:03 pm

    I wonder if Brad Miller will start the season in AAA this year? He hit very well in AA last half of last season.

  6. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 1:07 pm

    Shannon Drayer ?@shannondrayer tweeted:

    Bonderman did not have an opt out clause that would allow him to go to another club.

  7. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 1:24 pm

    This sort of feels like the opening day roster to me, more so than yesterday. The only differences would be Ryan and Seager at short and third, probably move Seager ahead of Ackley.

    The most obvious weakness (most likely to be below replacement level) in that lineup is Bay.

  8. taylor.mariner on March 27th, 2013 1:31 pm

    I really hope the organization surprises us and tells Bay to take a walk.

  9. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 1:37 pm

    Oh, wait, I didn’t realize Morse was DH today. We’d see him in left instead of Bay, with Smoak at first and Morales at DH.

    Not sure what I was thinking.

  10. KW on March 27th, 2013 2:06 pm

    When I first read your title I thought you were using “Kershaws” as a verb, and I spent a few moments wondering what it would look like to kershaw at Felix. Halfway between a pshaw and a sneeze…?

  11. Paul B on March 27th, 2013 2:47 pm

    Wedge ejected, I assume for arguing ball and strike counts.

  12. jordan on March 27th, 2013 2:51 pm

    I don’t see Bonderman as being useful ever. Look at the guy’s career. He has never really proven to be a good player at the MLB level. I don’t mind having him as AAA depth, but god help us if we ever have to use him in the starting 5. Hopefully Erasmo lights up AAA and bumps out Beavan quickly.

  13. evolvingcaveman on March 27th, 2013 3:27 pm

    There’s one guy I’m really hoping is lights out at Tacoma when we switch our #5 starter and that’s D. Hultzen. Erasmo’s great and he has more then earned a spot in the rotation, but I know I would be giddy at the thought of a red hot start from Hultzen at Tacoma followed by a quick hook for beavan. Erasmo healthy or a sharp Hultzen both sound good.

  14. bookbook on March 27th, 2013 3:33 pm

    Hopefully Hultzen and Paxton light up AAA, forcing Z to find out what Saunders’ trade value might be.

  15. MrZDevotee on March 27th, 2013 3:38 pm

    Did you guys hear about Opening Day, April 1st… It’s also a free “Open House” at Safeco Field, with free parking, all food for under $5, and the game broadcast on the new Giganto-tron screen. Edgar’s new restaurant where the LF Scoreboard used to be makes its debut.

    Also, free special “True to the Blue” shirts for the event.

    Nice touch for the fans.

  16. Westside guy on March 27th, 2013 4:56 pm

    Is the date a coincidence, MrZ? 😀

  17. LanceWWU on March 27th, 2013 5:21 pm

    Erasmo should be the #5 starter instead of Beavan.

  18. gwangung on March 27th, 2013 6:26 pm

    Erasmo should be the #5 starter instead of Beavan.

    With the questions about his arm? Hm. I wouldn’t.

  19. MrZDevotee on March 27th, 2013 6:34 pm

    I know, I know… Spring numbers are misleading, but still pretty cool:

    “Maurer was named the Peoria Diamond Club Rookie of the Year on Wednesday after leading the Cactus League with his 0.90 ERA. He is tied for second in the Cactus League for wins with three and is third in strikeouts with 22.”

    Not bad for a AA’ster.

    Also, this is nice…

    “Second baseman Dustin Ackley recorded his sixth straight multi-hit game on Wednesday with a 2-for-4 day, and has raised his spring average from .292 to .396 in that span.”

  20. Mid80sRighty on March 28th, 2013 7:08 am

    Ackley seemed odd to me when I watched him last Sunday. 2 at bats he looked good, I think both line drives. The other 2 times he looked lost. Only saw him the 1 game, though…

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