Game 48, Rangers at Mariners
Joe Saunders vs. Justin Grimm, 7:10pm
Another day, another roster move for the M’s, though it certainly sounds like that wasn’t the plan this morning. In any event, the M’s DFA’d Andino and brought up Carlos Triunfel. The latter isn’t in the line-up tonight, but C Jesus Sucre is. From what I’ve seen of him in Tacoma, he’s a good receiver, has a cannon of an arm, but I think the M’s really love the way he calls a game. This again is one of the aspects of catching that’s somewhat difficult to measure (though Max Marchi’s WOWY study gets at it), and it’ll be interesting to see how they talk about him, particularly if he doesn’t hit (he’s not likely to hit).
Justin Grimm’s facing Seattle for the third time. He’s still primarily a fastball-curve pitcher, but he throws a change-up to lefties on occasion. He’s got reverse platoon-splits in his brief MLB time this year, and he actually had similar splits in the minors as well. That’s still not much of a sample, but this is not a guy that you absolutely need to stack lefties against. The M’s have chosen to stack their lefties against him, however. After the Ibanez experience in New York, I’m not going to mock them, but I’ll say that Ackley hitting 2nd is questionable no matter who the opposing starter is. Joe Saunders, of course, has massive splits, and the Rangers are fairly well-positioned to exploit that, though of course Saunders dominated them in Safeco in early April. Moreland moves up to 2nd in the Rangers order, the result of a blistering May.
Texas uberprospect Jurickson Profar is up with the Rangers, taking the spot of the injured Ian Kinsler. Profar’s a natural SS, but will play 2B today. While insanely talented, he’s just 20 and is, in the very short run, unlikely to fully replace Kinsler’s 110+ rest-of-season wRC+, but he is another example of the Rangers depth and player development prowess. Damn it. Neither the M’s nor the Rangers have fared terribly well with injuries this year; Rangers prospect Mike Olt is just now resuming training in extended spring training following a vision problem, Cody Buckel was shut down after walking 28 in 9+ innings, and the M’s lost Danny Hultzen and Erasmo Ramirez to arm trouble. But the Rangers have been able to patch together serviceable (or better) stints from pitchers like Grimm, Nick Tepesch and Michael Kirkman while the M’s have watched Saunders, Beavan, Harang and Maurer all post negative WAR.
On paper, this is a mismatch. The Rangers are really, really good and the M’s are reeling. But just as the M’s looked better than they actually were after knocking off the Yankees, they are clearly not as inept as they appeared in Anaheim or as cursed as they appeared in Cleveland. They’re still not good, but the M’s can lower everyone’s blood pressure with a good showing against a very good team in this series.
1: Saunders, CF
2: Ackley, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Morse, RF
6: Ibanez, LF
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Sucre, C
9: Ryan, SS
The M’s have turned over the in-stadium music to M’s beat-writer Ryan Divish of the News Tribune. His knowledge of early-90s hip-hop is the equal of Keith Law’s, so I’d expect we’d hear some Tribe and Wu-Tang Clan tonight.
James Paxton starts tonight in the pitching hell of Reno, NV. With Jeremy Bonderman crashing and burning last night (he’s got one more start, in Colorado Springs, before his opt-out date on 6/1) and Harang and Maurer scuffling, this would be a good time for Paxton to show he can work deep into games. Dylan Unsworth takes the hill for Clinton.