Game 4: Mariners at Athletics…maybe
Brandon Maurer vs. AJ Griffin, 12:35pm
Day game on getaway day in the Bay Area, but the rain’s conspiring to either delay or scratch this contest. With the unbalanced schedule, it’s not that hard to fit in a make-up date later on against a divisional rival, so I don’t think they’ll be as desperate to get this one in as they would if Oakland was hosting, say, Minnesota.
If it does happen, the focus will rightly be on RHP Brandon Maurer, who’s set to make his major league debut today. He took control of the rotation spot with a brilliant spring, and showed advanced command of three or four pitches, and that gave him the edge not only over fellow prospects Danny Hultzen and Tai Walker, but mlb vets like Garland and Bonderman. I’ve been trying to figure out who he reminds me of, and I’ve landed on this comparison: Texas starter Matt Harrison. Both are 6’4″-6’5″ and not exactly built like Chris Sale. Both feature four-seamers, two-seamers, a very hard slider/cutter (around 86mph) and a change-up, and both get a ton of arm-side movement on their fastballs. Sure, Harrison’s a lefty and Maurer’s a righty, but I don’t think it’s against the law to point out the similarities between the two. Harrison moved slowly in the Braves and then Rangers systems, but was the #90 prospect in baseball at one point – about where Maurer was this off-season.
AJ Griffin is still the same bafflingly successful righty throwing 89mph fastballs up in the zone and watching the flyballs settle harmlessly in his OF’s gloves. He’s not just a Beavanite though – Griffin gets an above-average number of strikeouts, due in part to a good curveball. Still, his entire game seems to be based on the whole BABIP-suppressing, not-too-many-HR tightrope-walking blueprint that Jarrod Washburn and “crafty lefties” have been using for years. Doesn’t he know he’s right-handed? His strand rate figures to rise a bit this year, but he could regress and still be a league average hurler – not bad for an unheralded 13th round pick. The M’s saw him a few times in 2012, and then they faced him another couple of times this spring, so if the element of surprise was a component in his success last year, hopefully that’s not going to be a factor now.
Brendan Gawlowski has a great preview/article on Maurer’s debut over at LL here that’s worth a read.
1: Saunders, RF
2: Gutierrez, CF
3: Ibanez, DH
4: Morse, LF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Seager, 3B
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Shoppach, C
9: Andino, SS
SP: Brandon Maurer