Game 19, Mariners at Rangers
Brandon Maurer vs. Nick Tepesch 5:05pm
These are the games the M’s absolutely need to have to avoid falling out of the race. As many have noted, there’s no shame in dropping games to Max Scherzer or Yu Darvish, but they need to beat the Nick Tepesch’s of the league to balance things out.
Maurer and Tepesch faced off against each other on the 14th, in what turned out to be Maurer’s first MLB win. Tepesch has, thus far, used a Maueresque pitch mix, with a four and two-seam fastball, the occasional curve, the odd change-up and a blizzard of hard sliders/cutters. He’s used it a bit differently, though. He’s got a lot of confidence in it (obviously), and so he’s used it *most* when he’s behind in the count. It’s not a putaway pitch, it’s his even-the-count pitch.
That wouldn’t be the worst thing for Maurer to emulate. His slider is more of a whiff pitch, but when batters expected it, they were able to hit it hard – even with two strikes. In his last start against the Rangers, he threw more fastballs than he had before, and nearly all were four-seamers. That worked in the still-spacious Safeco field, and while it’s tempting to say that he needs to get grounders in Arlington, I think Maurer should throw whatever pitch he can command – if that’s the four-seam, then he should throw it.
Franklin Gutierrez returns to the line-up today, as does Brendan Ryan who was held out yesterday to clear his head after his horrific slump at the plate. Montero’s also back after his own slump-related off-day.
1: Gutierrez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Ibanez, LF
7: Montero, C
8: Ackley, 2B
9: Ryan, SS