Game 3, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · April 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Joe Saunders vs. Tommy Milone, 7:05pm

There are a few ways to succeed as a fly-ball pitcher without top-shelf stuff. Today’s pitching match-up offers two very different ways to do so. The M’s Joe Saunders isn’t terribly worried about getting right-handed hitters out, and instead focuses on doing damage to lefties. Without a real outpitch, he doesn’t rack up strikeouts, so he’s got to limit walks and do whatever it is that lefties like this do to hold BABIP down. Overall, you get a fairly durable pitcher with a so-so to bad FIP and, ideally, good results in terms of runs allowed.

Tommy Milone’s fastball is in the 87-88mph range, noticeably slower than Joe Saunders, so not worrying about righties just isn’t an option. Instead, Milone’s developed a pretty darn good change-up – so good that he actually pitched better against righties than lefties last year. You could argue that an actual outpitch removes him from the category of a soft-tosser without much ‘stuff’ but c’mon, dude’s throwing 87 out there. Still, even with a great change-up, he’s also gets a pretty big assist from his home park. We could call this approach the Jason Vargas, with the reverse-split top-notes of “poor man’s Cole Hamels.”

Saunders took a step forward in terms of his K:BB ratio last year, though it’s not quite as impressive as it looks. Saunders K rate was a career high, but this was based almost entirely on his merciless treatment of his fellow pitchers while he pitched for Arizona. Similar to Gio Gonzalez, Saunders increased his K% (in this case from a career line of around 13% to 15%. In yet another indication of just how weird NL statistics can be, this was largely due to the fact that Saunders K’d 18 of the 40 pitchers he faced. His non-pitcher K rate was 13.4%. That’s an increase over his career rate through 2011, but it’s not exactly huge. On the other hand, the walk rate really was a significant drop that, unlike the K rate, made the transition back to the AL after Saunders moved to Baltimore. Saunders should see his FIP come down if he’s able to maintain this improvement without a corresponding increase in his HR rate. Given the AL West parks (er, not the Texas ones), this seems doable.

Today’s game marks Jason Bay’s debut, and his first start in the outfield as the M’s throw out a very right-handed line-up. Someone doesn’t believe in Milone’s reverse splits.

1: Gutierrez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Montero, C
7: Bay, LF
8: Andino, 2B
9: Ryan, SS
SP: Joe Saunders

Dustin Ackley gets the day off against a lefty today, as the M’s say they wanted to get Robert Andino a start or two early on.
Yesterday’s game featured some decent performances from the M’s bullpen, but some possibly odd velocity readings. Carter Capps famously averaged – *averaged* – 99mph with his FB last year. It was slightly lower in the spring, which makes some sense as he stretches his arm back out, but last night his fastball averaged 93 mph, and by the end of his appearance, he was consistently at 92. Lots of caveats here – it’s a cold night in early April in Oakland, but that’s just not a level he approached at all in 2012. To be fair, we only saw him after he’d been stretched out in the minors. His arm slot looked to be very slightly lower than it was last year (which is saying something). In Capps’ defense, Oliver Perez was on the slow side too, but it’s just striking to see a guy who hit 100 with some regularity throwing 92-93.


84 Responses to “Game 3, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 7:56 pm

    To be honest, so far this season the only guy I’ve seen look really awkward out there is Ibañez.

  2. currcoug on April 3rd, 2013 7:57 pm


    I am still a hard rocker at heart…can’t stand A-ha.

  3. lalo on April 3rd, 2013 7:58 pm

    I miss Vargas

  4. currcoug on April 3rd, 2013 7:59 pm

    Call up Ramirez please.

  5. nvn8vbryce on April 3rd, 2013 8:04 pm

    Is Saunders injured / hurting? He’s looking like crap right now…

  6. Swungonandbelted on April 3rd, 2013 8:04 pm

    Ruh roh……

  7. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 8:05 pm

    Ramirez is on the DL.

    I hope Saunders is on a short leash, season-wise. I don’t want to see 100 innings of this.

  8. stevemotivateir on April 3rd, 2013 8:07 pm

    Minor league rosters were set today. Noesi to Jackson, Paxton to Tacoma. I don’t know if that was much of a surprise (though I wasn’t expecting Paxton in AAA), but there were a few surprises.

    Marder’s now listed as an infielder in Jackson. Is that news to anyone else? First I’ve heard of him getting converted. Hicks is on that roster as well, but as a catcher. Catricala got demoted to Jackson. Ruffin’s there as well.

    Kind of surprised Triunfel wasn’t demoted and replaced with Miller.

  9. nvn8vbryce on April 3rd, 2013 8:07 pm

    Westy, I don’t want 10 innings of this…

  10. stevemotivateir on April 3rd, 2013 8:09 pm

    Worth noting Ruffin’s undergoing a conversion to start.

  11. Paul B on April 3rd, 2013 8:09 pm

    Saunders is number 3, though, so Beavan would be the guy on the bubble.

    Unless Saunders has about 3 bad starts in a row.

  12. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 8:12 pm

    Knowing Wedge, veteran grit will insure that Saunders will get every chance imaginable to prove to us we should have given up on him sooner.

  13. HailToTheKingBaby on April 3rd, 2013 8:13 pm

    See what happens when you get the ball low, Joe? Good things happen…

  14. Paul B on April 3rd, 2013 8:14 pm

    I think the plan is for Joe Saunders to be Millwood 2.0.

  15. wilchiro on April 3rd, 2013 8:14 pm

    Three innings of Saunders and we’re already complaining? It’s his first start on a new team. Give him at least 30 IP before we decide that he’s horrible.

  16. djw on April 3rd, 2013 8:22 pm

    That would be lovely, Paul B, but it’s only going to work if he starts pitching better. I can’t imagine a six million dollar pitcher is going to be on a particularly short leash.

  17. Paul B on April 3rd, 2013 8:28 pm

    Millwood wasn’t exactly lights out, as you may recall.

  18. juneau_fan on April 3rd, 2013 8:29 pm

    Came in from doing yard work and was pleasantly surprised to see the score 2-2. I figured it would at least be 6-2 Oakland. But I do hear that Saunders is ‘out of sorts’ and has been in trouble every inning. And here we are…

    Morse needs to know to stop going for the ball. We have fast, agile in-fielders for a reason.

  19. Paul B on April 3rd, 2013 8:30 pm

    Montero did a good job of framing that called strike three.

  20. Paul B on April 3rd, 2013 8:33 pm

    I noticed the Morse was about 100 miles away from that ball when it got to the wall.

  21. Gritty Veteran Poster on April 3rd, 2013 8:34 pm

    Joe is now officially my least favorite Saunders on the team.

  22. HailToTheKingBaby on April 3rd, 2013 8:36 pm

    Saunders with the awe-inspiring 2.75 WHIP through 4 innings tonight…

  23. juneau_fan on April 3rd, 2013 8:40 pm

    Naturally, I curse the M’s…

  24. djw on April 3rd, 2013 8:41 pm

    Millwood had an FIP of 3.9 last year; a great bargain for a slightly above average 160 innings. I’d be pretty damn happy if we get that from Saunders.

  25. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 8:42 pm

    Wilchiro does have a point – Joe Saunders has been okay the past couple seasons, it’s not like he is a reclamation project really.

    But it is hard to not recall that spring didn’t go that well for him either.

  26. californiamariner on April 3rd, 2013 9:01 pm

    Morales has sure been not fun to watch so far.

  27. HailToTheKingBaby on April 3rd, 2013 9:03 pm

    One hit/baserunner since the second inning. C’mon guys lets go here!

  28. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 9:22 pm

    I’m ready for this game to end…

  29. bloody_yankees on April 3rd, 2013 9:43 pm

    The Mariners have successfully destroyed my love of baseball. I think Zduriencik will do great things for another org, but it’s clear that the Mariners are going to continue to suck balls for as long as Armstrong and Lincoln continue to collect paychecks.

    Wake me up when football season starts.

  30. absolutsyd on April 3rd, 2013 9:44 pm

    If Reddick gets hit on the end of his beard, is it still a hbp?

  31. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:47 pm

    I have this awful feeling we’re not actually going to go 162-0 this season.


  32. MrZDevotee on April 3rd, 2013 9:49 pm

    I think it does count as HBP, because the little birds that live there will be hit by the pitch, and they’re technically a part of Reddick.

    So yes.

  33. californiamariner on April 3rd, 2013 9:57 pm

    Well, I’m excited to check out Maurer tomorrow.. I’d gladly take 3 out of 4!

  34. Westside guy on April 3rd, 2013 10:11 pm

    It’d sure be nice to take this first series…

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