Game 51, Padres at Mariners
Aaron Harang (for now) vs. Clayton Richard, 1:10pm
The new, hopefully improved, Mariners take on their natural rivals in a 1:10 Memorial Day start. As I mentioned in the previous post, the Franklin-for-Ackley swap wasn’t the only move; the M’s also optioned Lucas Luetge to AAA to make room for Hector Noesi. This makes a ton of sense, as the M’s played 13 innings yesterday and the bullpen had to deal with abbreviated starts a few times in the past week, so getting a long-man in the bullpen (especially with Harang on the mound) sounds like a good plan.
The M’s face the Padres, who started slowly and currently sit in 4th in the tight NL West. Like the M’s, the Pads moved in the fences in their pitcher-friendly park, and like the M’s, the results have been mixed. The Padres have the 18th best wOBA in baseball (the M’s are at #21), and they’ve moved up from the bottom five in home HRs to about 20th (the Pads are #19, the M’s #21). Both teams were solidly below 4 runs per game at home in 2012, and as both have boosted their average R/G at home, both have winning records at home thus far. But both teams are absolutely lost on the road, as their home parks may still obscure just how bad the backs of their rotations are. It’s early yet, and it’ll be fun to check back in on the teams at the end of the year. While it initially seemed like the M’s wouldn’t actually score more despite the changes, at this point both teams seem to have boosted their raw offensive totals, and that may help them attract more free agents down the road. Neither park is suddenly hitter-friendly, but both seem more fair. The M’s get to visit the new Petco in a few days.
Clayton Richard is a lefty groundballer who’s had every bit as bad of a season as Aaron Harang. Richard’s always been a pitch-to-contact guy, but he’s been giving up home runs at a Harang-in-Texas pace, which has led to a FIP around 7 and a half, and an ERA a run worse than that. Richard’s fastball velocity is down over a full MPH from where it was last year, and batters have feasted on fastballs this season – especially the occasional four-seamer. He’s primarily a sinker/slider guy, but he also throws the aforementioned four-seamer and a change-up that he reserves for righties. Neither the change nor his cutter is particurlarly good at generating whiffs, so he’s had large platoon splits and bad numbers against righties his whole career. This season, of course, his numbers are terrible against everyone, but this is a good game to get Bay, Shoppach and the other lefty-mashers in the line-up.
1: Bay, LF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, 1B
4: Morse, RF
5: Ibanez, DH
6: Shoppach, C
7: Chavez, CF
8: Triunfel, 2B
9: Ryan, SS
Oookay, that’s not exactly a lefty-killer line-up with Ibanez DHing and Endy Chavez in CF, but all of the roster moves and injuries mean the M’s aren’t really able to mix and match like they could.
The M’s still need to make a 40-man roster move to get Nick Franklin on to the active roster; Francisco Martinez is a good guess, though he’s in Jackson’s line-up today (as is Vinnie Catricala). They could also move someone (Hultzen or Erasmo Ramirez) to the 60-day DL retroactively.
All of the changes mean Tacoma’s going with a bullpen day against Reno – Johnathan Arias gets the start, but I’d bet on several innings from Brian Sweeney. Franklin Gutierrez’s rehab work continues; he’s eligible to come off any time, but the M’s are going to take it slow. He hit his first XBH for the Rainiers two days ago, but in 10 games, he’s put up a line of .167/.222/.238.