Game 58, White Sox at Mariners
Joe Saunders vs. John Danks, 7:10pm
The M’s return home to face Chicago, and their erstwhile innings-eater, John Danks. The M’s counter with Joe Saunders, whose coming off a successful start in a Safeco-like environment. The M’s obviously have some question marks in the pen, so it’ll be interesting to see Eric Wedge’s thought process in late game situations.
As Matthew wrote about in the series preview, Danks has reverse splits over his (fairly lengthy) career – due to his outpitch, the change-up. This isn’t merely a home-run-fueled artifact, either – Danks strikes out more and walks fewer righties. Lefties don’t exactly torch him, as he’s got a cutter and a (rare) curveball as well. Still, his swing-and-miss pitch is the cambio, with good arm-side run and sink. As a result, the Rays famously stacked their line-up with *righties* instead of lefties when they faced him. Rays fans even named it the “Danks Theory” after Joe Maddon’s slightly counter-intuitive strategy. The idea was simple: take away the opposing pitcher’s biggest strength. If the opposing starter had a great slider, then you’d use a traditional platoon line-up (opposite-handed hitters). If, like Danks, it was a change-up, then you went with a same-handed line-up to get him to throw more cutters instead. That’s all well and good for Rays fans, but we M’s fans know that when you play with sabermetrics, you’re playing with fire.
Perhaps luckily for the M’s – and to be perfectly fair, it’s not like Danks has strong platoon splits one way or the other – Wedge just isn’t able to mix and match. Injuries, and injuries that haven’t been DLed, have left the team with something of a short bench. That said, the line-up that’ll face Danks isn’t a bad one, given Danks’ weapon.
1: Chavez, RF
2: Bay, LF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, 1B
5: Ibanez, Dh
6: Franklin, 2B
7: Saunders, CF
8: Sucre, C
9: Ryan, SS
SP: Joe Saunders
Danks’ return from major shoulder surgery is cool and all, but I’m going to miss this one. Brandon Maurer’s scheduled to make his AAA debut, and it’s absolutely gorgeous out, so I’ll head to Cheney. The Rainiers face ex-Rainier and ex-Mariner Justin Thomas, who’s now with the Sacramento RiverCats.
Tai Walker lost the opening game of a AA doubleheader today in Tennessee, giving up two runs in five IP, with two walks and five K’s. The offense couldn’t get him any runs, so the Generals dropped game 1 2-0. Game 2’s underway with Jimmy Gilheeney pitching.