Game 73, Mariners at Angels
Joe Saunders vs. CJ Wilson, 7:05pm
The M’s face left-hander CJ Wilson of the Angels tonight, the guy who hasn’t exactly justified the huge free agent contract that brought him west from Texas, but may get more than his fair share of grief for underwhelming pitching of baseballs and shampoo. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s interesting to see the steep climb in opponents ISO/SLG% when they make contact with Wilson’s fastball. He went from posting a very low ISO on his four-seamer of .134 in Arlington in 2011 to .189 last year to .226 this year, in a part that severely restricts HRs (and therefore ISO). All of this could be small-sample nonsense, but at the very least, it casts a great deal of doubt on how much of that 2011 performance was “true talent.” Wilson’s adjusted a bit by throwing more breaking balls and fewer fastballs (of any kind) than he did in 2011. That may be helping him post solid strikeout numbers, and his o-swing and whiff rates are at/near career highs. But his high walk rate may be a result of the change as well, and walks plus even a “normal” amount of home runs isn’t a recipe for making the leap to #1-#2 starter material. That’s not to say Wilson’s bad – he’s not. He’s got a sub-4 FIP, and he’s been a dependable AL starter who’s clearly better than league average. He’s just not going to be worth what the Angels have to pay him in the next few years unless he can drop his HRs-allowed back down.
The M’s look to see if Joe Saunders success in HR-suppressing Safeco and HR-suppressing PetCo park can translate to HR-suppressing Angel Stadium. The park’s well suited to Saunders’ skillset, but unfortunately the line-up isn’t. The Angels were a great match-up for Jeremy Bonderman, but their right-handedness makes it a poor one for Saunders. C’mon wind direction – help a long-suffering M’s fan out.
1: Chavez, RF
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Morse, 1B
6: Ibanez, LF
7: Zunino, C
8: M. Saunders, CF
9: Ryan, SS
SP: J. Saunders
The M’s have been busy signing their draft picks, so the short-season club rosters will look different pretty much daily for a while. The biggest news on that front is that tonight marks 1st-round pick DJ Peterson’s M’s org debut with Everett, who take on Tri-Cities at home tonight at 7.
With Brad Miller playing SS in Tacoma, AA Jackson gave the position to defensive-whiz Gabriel Noriega. That wasn’t because they saw the defensive-whiz/no-bat Noriega as a prospect, but because they wanted to let Taylor play in the advanced-A All-Star game. Now he (and 3B/1B Ramon Morla) has been moved up to AA, and he’ll start tonight’s game against Mobile. He’ll be playing with his college teammate, John Hicks. Taylor was drafted with the reputation of a slick-fielder without much offense, but he’s blossomed in the M’s org (who signed him to an overslot bonus, so apparently the idea that he wouldn’t hit was not universally shared) and was hitting .335/.426/.524 in the offensive haven of High Desert.
The Rainiers played in Colorado Springs today, and beat the Sky Sox 16-4. Carlos Peguero had six RBIs with a 2B and a 3B, and Dustin Ackley went 3-4. Whatever setting that humidor is at, it’s too low.