Game 8, Astros at Mariners
Joe Saunders vs. Philip Humber, 7:10pm
Welcome to the AL, Houston. Yes, we *do* have lots of strikeout pitchers over here. We’re going to be helpful though and not really show them to you. Just to keep things sporting, you’ll face Joe Saunders tonight and you’ll get Blake Beavan in a few days. It’ll be just like old times – balls in play, running the bases. If you feel like it, you could pull a double switch, just for the hell of it. Old times’ sake and all that.
Phil Humber’s last start against the M’s was something. His perfect game looked like a coming out party for a guy who’d quietly put together a three win 2011, and had a better breaking ball and improved velocity in early 2012. Shortly thereafter, however, everything collapsed. His velocity retreated back to the 91 or so it had always been at, and his problems with homers returned with a vengeance. The bump in strikeouts was still there, but it was hard to notice with all of the runs he was allowing. His last appearance against the M’s came in relief, as he’d lost his starting job a few months after his perfect game (I feel like I should repeat that. Perfect game to swing man to DFA’d in like 4 months.) and he was awful, giving up a HR and a pair of walks in 1/3 of an inning. He’s now trying to reinvent himself with the rebuilding Astros.
He kept the slider he picked up from Don Cooper in Chicago, and now throws it a Maurer-esque 30% or so. Combined with his curve and change, he throws at least 50% slow stuff. For a slider/curve guy, he’s typically run fairly high platoon splits, but they’re somewhat hidden in his defense-independent stats. In his brief career, Humber’s allowed a .343 wOBA to lefties while holding righties to a Mariner-y .295. But this isn’t driven by HRs, or rather, the *split* isn’t driven by gopher balls: he’s ecumenical with those. Instead, lefies just get a ton of line drives and the resulting hits to go along with their allotment of homers. Righties hit homers, but that’s about it. FIP cares nothing for these “line drives” and “base hits,” so his career split is 4.53 v. lefties and 4.49 vs. righties. Essentially dead on. If you’re a died-in-the-wool DIPS fan, you’re going to expect the BABIP difference producing the wOBA splits to regress (if he stays in MLB). If not, you see this as evidence that DIPS isn’t 100% reliable. More evidence on that front came in today from Russell Carleton, by the way. Personally, this is a great match-up for Ackley and Smoak, though I said that once before and saw them struggle.
Joe Saunders will hopefully find the baseball to be pleasingly resin-free at Safeco. No powdery substances, no problems, right? Right, Joe? Please?
1: Saunders, RF
2: Gutierrez, CF
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, LF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Montero, C
8: Ackley, 2B
9: Ryan, SS
The Jackson Generals rotation has been lights out with the exception of Taijuan Walker. Another shutout today against Jacksonville, this time with James Gilheeney getting the start. Carson Smith got his first AA save. Julio Morban continues to impress with a 2B and a steal today, but he left the game in the 3rd with a slight groin injury. Something to keep an eye on.
Can’t wait to see Safeco’s new video board and how they use it.