Game 33, Mariners at Blue Jays

marc w · May 5, 2013 at 9:35 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Joe Saunders vs. Brandon Morrow, 10:07am.

The M’s look to complete a sweep of the reeling Jays this morning behind Joe Saunders and an offense that’s legitimately hot right now. Opposing them is old friend Brandon Morrow, who appeared to take a big step forward last year as he seemingly solved his long-standing problems with men on base, posting an ERA under 3 despite his FIP remaining pretty much unchanged in his three seasons in Toronto. Like everything else in Toronto, it hasn’t worked out that way in 2013. Instead, Morrow’s taken a big step back in the early going, with an ERA and FIP over 5.

This isn’t necessarily luck – he’s suddenly become much more hittable this year, with a contact rate well above the league average and a plummeting rate of out-of-zone swings. But perhaps the biggest change has been how lefties have hit him. He’s a fastball/slider pitcher for most of his career, but he’s developed a pretty good splitter which acts as a change, and that’s given him something else to throw against lefties. His HR rates against lefties have been lower than those against righties since he’s been in Toronto, but his K% is the same (or perhaps a bit better against lefties). It’s not that he throws the split to get strikeouts – he uses it early in at-bats. But it may give hitters something else to think about, so they’re vulnerable to two-strike sliders. In 2012, he posted great results against lefties, but in hindsight, it’s possible a lot of that success was BABIP related (it was .226).

In 2013, lefties are torching him. It’s a handful of starts, but lefties are slugging .644 and have five HRs and 13 total XBH in only 83 batters faced. The contact rate issues mean his K rate’s dropped (although it’s dropped more against righties), and he’s walked over 12% of lefties. Now, this will regress towards the mean eventually, but the contact rates give me some pause. In any event, this is probably the best time the M’s could face Morrow, and they’re doing so in good park to hit HRs in, and with two incredibly hot lefty hitters at the top of the line-up. It’s enough to give an M’s fan confidence despite the whole Joe-Saunders-starting-somewhere-other-than-Safeco problem. Go M’s!

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

The Rainiers had a turn-back-the-clock to the 1980s yesterday, wearing Tacoma Tigers uniforms. I had Mike Gallego and Curt Young flashbacks, but it apparently didn’t help the Blake Beavan, as the Rainiers were shutout by Charles Brewer and the Reno Aces, ending the R’s 10 game winning streak. Today, they’re wearing Tacoma Giants uniforms. I’m wearing a Tacoma Tigers shirt today, and I encourage all of you to visit the site using lynx or another text-base browser. Jimmy Gilheeney starts today against D’Backs #1 prospect Tyler Skaggs at 1:30 at Cheney.


109 Responses to “Game 33, Mariners at Blue Jays”

  1. MrZDevotee on May 6th, 2013 11:57 am

    … And Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neil. And maybe that Kelly kid that chain smokes and rides a Harley.

  2. Westside guy on May 6th, 2013 12:39 pm

    Steve Kelly?


  3. eponymous coward on May 6th, 2013 2:32 pm

    What do you mean this team isn’t close to contending? We only need 3 solid starters, a couple of relievers, a couple outfielders, a catcher, a short stop, and a couple of utility infielders

    Not really.

    Oakland last year: Jemille Weeks and Kurt Suzuki were replacement level or worse players last year. Unless you’re the 2001 Mariners or a similar team that’s just dominant to the rest of the league, odds are good that you have a couple of below-average player or two (or worse) on your playoff team.

    The team isn’t THAT far from contending in a sense of putting a roster together- there are some pieces here. The problem is that the offseason failure at addressing obvious problems outside of the “duh, we keep Felix” stuff happens like clockwork every year. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out that relying on old and/or injury-prone players in your OF wasn’t going to work. It was pretty clear that the back end of the rotation was weak. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Montero isn’t suited to be a catcher, and it’s likely impeding his ability to develop as a hitter. Nobody should be shocked that Smoak isn’t a prospect at 1B when he’s 1500+ plate appearances into a career where he hasn’t hit for longer than 3 weeks at a time. Guti being on the DL is pretty predictable. About the only thing that you could classify as any kind of major “wow, could not have seen that one coming” in recent years is Ackley not developing.

    This team pretty much deserves what they’re getting, based on the decisions they’ve made in the offseason.

  4. Westside guy on May 6th, 2013 5:16 pm

    Eponymous, even from 6000 miles away I could see Steve’s tongue planted firmly in his cheek when he wrote that. Trust me, he wasn’t serious.

    He basically said we were 11 players away from contending. 😀

  5. californiamariner on May 6th, 2013 6:07 pm

    In all honesty, I personally don’t think this team is that far from contending. Other than the need of 2 good OF, all of the positions steve listed are potentially in the system. Are Hultzen, Walker, Zunino, Franklin, etc. all going to pan out? Hell no they aren’t, but there’s definitely potential to get 2-3 good players added to the Mariners from within the system. I would throw in 1B as a need. With no bad contracts , I think the team has a chance to be good in the next couple of years.

    But again it will depend who is making these decisions in the next couple of years and also how good these decisions are. Based off this past offseason, I don’t know if Z will make the best decisions.

    Altogether though, I think the team is actually set up fairly well going forward. Felix is the only guy the team is committed to. There is a very good farm system. The new TV deal should bring more money. Are they close to contending right now? No. But, I think the resources to build a contender are better than they have been in a while.

  6. stevemotivateir on May 6th, 2013 9:47 pm

    Westy, you know me too well;)

  7. HighlightsAt11 on May 7th, 2013 1:10 am

    If the Mariners are “set-up for success, ticket buyers and fans would like to know the time-line for that to happen. e.g. short-term (this season/like now) vs. intermediate term (next-season) vs longer term.

    Below is my simple-minded synopsis:

    Starting rotation: The bottom 3/5th’s includes a young inconsistent Maurer, missing two consecutive starts, a Joe Saunders unable to pitch on the road (thank goodness for one-year contracts), and the desperation signing of Harang (to a two-year contract…ouch). I don’t expect to see these three guys providing a net positive contribution this season, and one or two will likely be gone sooner than later. Maurer is on a strict inning restriction and would likely do better developing in AAA and Saunders to be a FA. In AAA, Hultzen is out with an injury for another month or so, and Paxton is not getting it done. And Walker is still in AA. So how can anyone reasonably forecast if/when these prospects will be able to make a positive contribution to their parent club? You cannot.

    Relief: Unless something changes soon, with the difficulties Maurer, Saunders and Harang are having, the bullpen will be putting in some extended innings (I assume without overtime pay).

    The M’s hit paydirt signing the bartender. He’s deserving of a bonus. Most unfortunate Pryor getting injured after showing nothing but goodness.

    Unable to flush out of my head the the nightmare 16-9 loss to Houston at Safeco, where Maurer was pounded and then pulled in the first inning, and then Loe, Furbush, Luetge, and Perez all proceeded to be almost as bad in relief.

    Since then Perez has been effective, not allowing any runs. However Loe was cut and Luetge was sent down to Tacoma, and then a month later called back up in desperation after Beavan exhibited major difficulty pitching from the bullpen. I expect Luetge to be mostly providing mop up/riding the pine.

    As the situational bullpen guy against left handed hitters, Furbush has been hot and cold. And power RHP Capps has been inconsistent with his location. A few more ground balls would be nice.

    Besides the Texas game Medina has done a good job mopping up. Waiting to see him pitch some memorable innings in a game in contention.

    After the short experiment with LaFromboise, Noesi was called up from Jackson in the hope of providing some extended middle-inning relief. Good in his first six innings, but not so much the last three plus.

    Catcher: Montero is toast (especially defense). The M’s could call up Zunnio near the end of the season, but I don’t know why. He needs AAA work. Shoppach is doing a better than expected job of filling in…er, taking over. He’ll be a FA and if history is any indicator, the M’s will likely treat him just as Jaso was treated (but I hope not).

    SS: Both Ryan and Andino are toast with a capital T. Waiting for Z to push the button, to allow Triunfel or Franklin an opportunity to do better.

    1B: Smoak has had more than his opportunity. But he shown recent signs of pulling himself out of the cellar, improving from a mid-April .442 OPS to current .670. I’m holding out some hope.

    If anything, Morales has been consistent. If the M’s see something long term in Morales that claim should be staked sooner than later. If he heats up the price will be much higher.

    2B: After a mid April .284 OPS I was hoping to see some Ackley improvement. But wasn’t anticipating he’d ramp up so quickly to a current.600 OPS. But then I wasn’t expecting Dustin to hit a grand slam. Hoping to see more in the way of extra-base hits.

    3B: Since the ugly game against Houston, which he did not play, I like what I’m seeing from Seager.

    OF: Ibanez is toast. Enough said.

    With the recent two homer game Saunders shows that he is on track, after not playing for 18+ days. Awaiting for Michael to achieve 100 plate appearances to can make better comparisons.

    Morse started fast out of the gate in his return to the Mariners. However opposing pitchers have adapted their approach to Sea Beast. Thus Morse is having to learn to not swing at outside off-the-plate take a walk.

    In the most recent eight game, Bay’s plate appearances have increased, and his bat has warmed considerably, improved his OPS from .600 to 801 (would be .850 if the last ugly game in Toronto was not included).

    Guti getting off the DL soon? Will he be sent to an extended rehab assignment? Or does Chavez end up as no more than just a short-term temp? With Saunders on-board and Chavez doing a descent enough job filling in why would the M’s pickup the $7.5m option on the too-often injured Guti? Not much in AAA stock. Unfortunate situation.

    Utility: The M’s need a utility infielder/outfielder with some speed on the bases.

    • Achievers: King, Kuma, Seager, MSaunders, Pryor, Bartender.
    • Consistent: Morales*, Perez*
    • Coming up fast: Ackley, Bay*
    • Slowing down: Morse*
    • Not as hyped/hoped: JSaunders*
    • How did this happen: Harang$
    • Rushed too soon: Hultzen
    • Quality temps: Shoppach*, Chavez#
    • Dunnos: Smoak, Capps, Furbush, Medina, Noesi
    • Please be goners: Ryan*, Andino, Montero, Ibanez*, Luetge, Guti*

    $Free-Agent w/ $2m buyout!
    #minor-league contract

    Prospect waiting: Frankin/Triunfel, Erasmo, Zunnio, Hultzen, Paxton, Walker and the Miller Man.

  8. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 10:08 am

    Below is my simple-minded synopsis

    What was simple about that?

  9. HighlightsAt11 on May 7th, 2013 1:19 pm

    Started out short and sweet then kept getting longer and longer…then it was too late…and now I see it required much editing. Sigh. That’s what happens when posting late at night. Apologies.

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