Game 54, Mariners at Padres

marc w · May 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Andrew Cashner, 12:40pm

Early game today as the M’s fly to the Twin Cities after this game.

Andrew Cashner could be a dominant starting pitcher. The odds are stacked against him, in that we’re talking about pitchers, and it’s something of a wonder every MLB hurler’s arm doesn’t dislocate monthly. But Cashner’s got plus-plus velocity that he can pair with average-ish control as well as a change-up and a slider. The tools are all there, but injuries have slowed his development. The Padres, who acquired him from the Cubs in the trade that sent Anthony Rizzo to Chicago, used him as a reliever for the first half of 2012, where his average – AVERAGE – fastball was 99.4mph, then moved him to the minors to prepare to start. He was up last year, but was shut down in September with pain in his shoulder.

As Matthew’s chart illustrates really well, Cashner’s fastball gets far more whiffs than the average heater; there are advantages to throwing 96mph as a starting pitcher. But the other thing that jumps out at you from his chart is the change-up. He’s able to keep it in the zone pretty much at will – he throws fewer balls with the change-up than he does with his fastball. But there’s a problem: it’s also his most hittable pitch. He gets fewer whiffs and fouls on the change-up than he does with the fastball as well, and while he gets ground balls with it, if he misses his spot, batters are able to time the pitch and punish it. As a result, his K% doesn’t really match the pure stuff. His slider’s effective, so he’s still extremely tough on right-handed batters, but lefties are a bit more trouble than they should be given that he’s pitcher who can throw 96-97mph and drop a change-up in whenever he wants.

You can see it in his pitch usage chart – he throws more change-ups than sliders to righties, and relies on it heavily when he’s behind in the count. That’s what he goes to when he falls behind. Against lefties, his results have been mixed. In his favor, they don’t hit for a lot of power on the change, but essentially no one’s fooled by it. You can chalk some of the poor results up to BABIP luck, but when he can’t get whiffs and everyone can put it in play, there’s only so far for that BABIP to fall. If his shoulder doesn’t act up, I think Cashner figures this out – if his command of the change improves (either by spotting it low and out of the zone some times or by improving his arm action to disguise it better), he’s going to be an elite pitcher. But he isn’t yet, and as the M’s have Felix on the mound, this is a big game for them, particularly after last night’s heartbreaker.

1: Chavez, RF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Ibanez, LF
4: Morales, 1B
5: Saunders, CF
6: Franklin, 2B
7: Sucre, C
8: Ryan, SS
9/SP: Felix

That’s about as lefty-dominant as the M’s can get. Makes sense today.

Some of you have asked about the MLB draft – no worries, the annual draft preview article posts later today.

The Rainiers scored 25 runs in Colorado Springs, essentially mocking the recently-installed humidor. Abe Almonte went 6-6, and Dustin Ackley’s swing rehab looked great after a 5-6 night with a HR. Righty Andrew Carraway was effective in the windy-Colorado-Springsy conditions, continuing his fine run of form after a clunker or two in April, and keeping his ERA under 3, which is kind of miraculous for a fly-balling right-hander without much velocity.

Speaking of fly-balling righties, Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha makes his MLB debut today against the Royals. The tastefully-named Marc Hulet runs down the scouting report at Fangraphs here. That report matches what I saw almost perfectly. Wacha works up in the zone and his fastball seems to have a lot of vertical movement, leading to a flurry of fly balls and pop-ups, and also more whiffs than you might expect given his velocity. A lot’s been made about his lack of Ks in AAA, but that may have been due to the Cards instructing him to work on specific pitches; he certainly didn’t have trouble striking out many Rainiers. Still, it’s always interesting to see how a pitcher who’s made his living throwing up in the zone fares when he comes to a league that selects in part for the ability to send high fastballs far, far away. It’ll also be interesting to see if the deception in his delivery ‘works’ against MLB left-handers.


30 Responses to “Game 54, Mariners at Padres”

  1. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 12:46 pm

    Have I told you guys how much I can’t stand Eric Wedge anymore?

    (I’m kidding… I’m done ranting… I’m making fun of MYSELF now, actually)

    Happy Felix Day!

    (WTF? Ibanez is batting 3rd? 3rd?!? “Your best hitter goes here” 3rd?… Poor Felix… *sigh*)

  2. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 12:54 pm

    Shazam! Kendrys is really heating up…

  3. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2013 1:12 pm

    Ibanez was hitting third the other night as well. It bothers me more that he’s in the outfield, but I’ve conceded that nothing really matters any more.

  4. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2013 1:16 pm

    Brendan Ryan the power hitter. How did the sabermetric community not see this coming?

  5. stevemotivateir on May 30th, 2013 1:17 pm

    Cashner’s dishin’ everyone a slice of pie.

    I’ll take two more to-go, please.

  6. Ralph_Malph on May 30th, 2013 2:04 pm

    Who is this shortstop and what have they done with Brendan Ryan?

  7. msfanmike on May 30th, 2013 2:13 pm

    Atta boy, Nick!

  8. ItJustContinuesMyOhMy on May 30th, 2013 2:14 pm

    Congrats on HR #1, Nick Franklin.

  9. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 2:33 pm

    You realize right now, Wedge is smug as a sorority girl at a gang bang– “See, THAT’s the way we do it around here… EVERYONE hits a homerun on my watch!”

  10. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 2:39 pm

    (and yes, that probably IS the worst generalization I’ve ever made in my life…)

  11. Adam S on May 30th, 2013 2:41 pm

    For all those calling for Brendan Ryan’s head a month ago, and that includes Eric Wedge, note that he’s probably been the Mariners best player (non-pitcher) in May.

    There’s no excuse or justification for his horrid April but he’s back to playing at a 2-3 WAR level. As Dave said it’s not what the guy has done it’s what you think he WILL do that matters.

  12. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 2:47 pm

    I’ve never been a fan of removing anyone from the Mariners who does something the best on the team. In Brendan’s case, that would be play defense.

    You’d need to replace him with an all-star bat to compensate for the plays he can routinely make at short stop. But no one sees it, because it’s hard to accept that other guys wouldn’t even get to half of the tough plays he makes. And easy to argue that they would, without any proof.

    And in Brendan’s case you’re talking about removing possibly the best defender in a game that is traditionally weak at the plate. There just aren’t many .300 hitters, or guys with power, playing SS (please, no one bring up anyone named Cabrera).

  13. msfanmike on May 30th, 2013 2:47 pm

    Atta boy, Nick!!

  14. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 2:49 pm

    Nick Franklin, ladies and gentleman!!!

    (I hope his nerves don’t keep him from showing what he can do…)

  15. phineasphreak on May 30th, 2013 2:50 pm

    Well, that was just dandy.

  16. msfanmike on May 30th, 2013 2:51 pm

    Remember way back when (around May 15th) when Michael Saunders was hitting about .280 and he actually inspired confidence in the fans when he stepped to the plate?

    Ahhhh, those were the days.

    What the hell happened?

  17. Westside guy on May 30th, 2013 2:57 pm

    Okay, okay,


  18. jorax on May 30th, 2013 3:00 pm

    Saunders still inspires confidence… sadly it is now in opposing pitchers.

    Seriously though, I hope he gets back on track soon.

  19. currcoug on May 30th, 2013 3:28 pm

    Trade Ryan now…

  20. oldschool on May 30th, 2013 3:30 pm

    Welcome to the outfield, Dustin Ackley.

  21. bookbook on May 30th, 2013 3:32 pm

    Trade Franklin now. Before the Mariners mystique and aura lays him low.

  22. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 3:42 pm

    (tail between leg)
    I was hoping he’d pull out of it, but I actually met Michael Saunders a couple weeks ago… We shared a beer, got to talking baseball, and I brought up OPS+, WAR, wOBA, bunch of stuff. Till he said he had a headache and had to go home.

    Hasn’t been the same since then.

    I’m SO sorry. I know he’s kinda your guy on the team. This was before I realized that nerdy math stuff could ruin a young ballplayer.


  23. MrZDevotee on May 30th, 2013 3:46 pm

    On a serious note, as much as Franklin stole the day, I’m really REALLY becoming a big fan of Kendry Morales. He’s really turning it on, and has had some truly impactful at bats.

    He looks and plays like a true, legit, top tier MLB player. He looks and plays like a REAL major league 1B (ala, Pujols, Fielder, etc.– not saying he’s on their level, just that he looks like THOSE kind of guys).

    Yeah, digging Kendrys. And he’s turning into a nice trade, for Vargas.

  24. henryv on May 30th, 2013 4:38 pm

    Brendan Ryan the power hitter. How did the sabermetric community not see this coming?

    I did. Yesterday. In the game thread.

    Well kinda. I just said that he BABIP is far too low for his batting profile, and that I would expect it to go up.


  25. globalalpha on May 30th, 2013 4:57 pm

    Nonesense! A home run is not a ball in play so it doesn’t increase his BABIP at all!

  26. henryv on May 30th, 2013 5:55 pm

    Nonesense! A home run is not a ball in play so it doesn’t increase his BABIP at all!

    The irony being that after hitting a home run, his BABIP went down today.

    Irony! Baseball! Mariners!

  27. Rick L on May 30th, 2013 6:39 pm

    Franklin stakes a claim to 2nd base!

    Although Ackley is hitting .500 in two games in Tacoma.

  28. currcoug on May 30th, 2013 6:49 pm

    Sell Ryan soon…he is just keeping the seat warm for Miller (barring a complete collapse at Tacoma).

  29. Sports on a Shtick on May 30th, 2013 10:06 pm

    Just came back from SD and experiencing my first ever Felix Day in person. Wow, that was an amazing day to be a Mariners fan!

  30. scraps on May 31st, 2013 1:25 am

    “He’s a guy who not only has been around for a long time, he’s a good competitor that has control of his pitches at all times,” San Diego’s Yonder Alonso said of Hernandez.

    I kinda laughed, but it’s true: Felix has been around a long time. It’s weird (well, to me anyway. I mean, I went to Mariners games with Dan Meyer, Lee Stanton, Bill Stein, Larry Milbourne, and Ruuuuuuupppe!!!, and Felix is just a blip on the recent map….).

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