Game 78, Pirates at Mariners

marc w · June 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Joe Saunders vs. Jeff Locke, 7:10pm

Matthew mentioned Jeff Locke’s very low BABIP in the series preview, and ID’d Locke as a prime regression candidate. That’s quite true, as it’s difficult to sustain this level of run prevention without a real put-away pitch. Locke’s a rare pitcher who’s achieved better results on his fastball than he has on his curve or change-up. Think about how weird that is – you typically throw your fastball when behind in the count, and batters typically hit really well when they’re ahead. If you’re pitching and you’ve got two strikes on someone, a curve or change doesn’t need to be in the zone, and you might get a stay-alive swing – swings that almost never result in hard contact. But there’s Locke, throwing a 90mph fastball no matter what the count and getting away with it. How?

Locke made a small adjustment that’s paid off thus far. Here are Locke’s “zone%” numbers for his three partial seasons – see if you can spot the outlier:
2011: 52.6%
2012: 53.5%
2013: 40.8%

Here’s the 2013 leaderboard for starters. There’s Locke, second from the bottom in zone%. Why? How can, er, NOT throwing strikes work for a 90mph ground-ballish lefty? I think it’s working, so far, because the magnitude of the change isn’t all that big. In 2012, he went after righties by throwing fastballs at the bottom of the strikezone. So far this season, he’s peppering the area just below the strikezone. I’m not sure if he’s getting more called strikes or hitters still perceive the pitch as coming in within the zone, but he’s getting some o-swings. Not a ton, mind you – his o-swing% is still below average. But if he gets ahead, maybe a pitch that a hitter would’ve laid off earlier in the AB becomes too close to take. Maybe it’s just something the Pirates have learned (the Pirates are an excellent team, and are dead last in MLB in pitches thrown within the strikezone).

This approach seemed to work for Pirates’ reliever Jared Hughes who turned not a ton of stuff into a brilliant 2012 season by throwing an absurd 35.5% of his pitches for strikes, the lowest zone% in baseball. Hughes may have helped the Pirates (and baseball) the lower bound, however. In 2013, Hughes is throwing an absurd 27% of his pitches for strikes, and while he gets more o-swings than Locke does, *twenty-seven percent.* His walks are way up, and his results have been terrible. Still, I appreciate any ballplayer who does something really weird, and I’d submit that this Pirates tendency to throw balls all the time qualifies as weird. They think you’re suckers, M’s! They may be right!

1: Chavez
2: Franklin
3: Seager
4: Morales (DH)
5: Ibanez
6: Bay
7: Smoak
8: Zunino
9: Triunfel
SP: Safeco Joe Saunders

Perhaps fewer eyes than normal will be on this game, due to it being a midweek contest between the M’s and Pirates, but even more than that, today marks Taijuan Walker’s AAA debut. The 20-year old phenom will pitch for Tacoma against the Fresno Grizzlies starting at 7, assuming the weather allows. We had wet weather in the morning, some sun in the early afternoon, and some massive showers in the south sound in the late afternoon. We’ll see.

Even younger phenom Victor Sanchez continues his 2013 season for Clinton today. He’s been sidelined since May 30th, so it’s good to see the 18 year old back on the hill.

Dustin Ackley’s been recalled, and Franklin Gutierrez has been placed on the -sigh-15 day DL.


75 Responses to “Game 78, Pirates at Mariners”

  1. greymstreet on June 25th, 2013 5:13 pm

    Do you know why Sanchez has been sidelined?

  2. seahopp on June 25th, 2013 5:18 pm

    The point where the Mariners just give up on Guti and cut him has got to be approaching right? Even with the depth problems in the outfield, he’s just wasting a roster spot with his limited time in between DL stints.

  3. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 5:21 pm

    Per Ryan Divish – the collective age of this outfield is 111 years old.

    If the rain lets up I may just skip this one. This team’s leadership is just so screwed up in so many ways.

  4. phineasphreak on June 25th, 2013 5:25 pm

    Let’s hope Kendrys’ blast on Sunday was a sign that he’s heating up again. And let’s give Morse as much time as needed to get his bat back, whilst still keeping him OUT of the outfield. He and Raul, I would think, will be good trade bait to contenders in the next month.

    I’m also hoping Ackley can bring his success back to the show. Is there any way he and Wedge can be kept apart? Can we make that happen?

  5. stevemotivateir on June 25th, 2013 5:42 pm

    That’s 111 years of grit, Westy. And you make it out to be a concern?!

  6. Eastside Suds on June 25th, 2013 5:46 pm

    Nice to see Ackley back up and ready to help us in at least 4-5 positions defensively if need be. It’s time that he and Michael Saunders step up and have solid 2nd halves and join Seager and Franklin in the youth movement for this franchise.

  7. 11records on June 25th, 2013 5:54 pm

    Oh man. I was hoping with Gutierrez it was just a tweak, and a day to day thing. But they’ve been making that mistake too much.

    With Ackley up, I hope they play him nearly every day. See if he can maintain his recent success with the bat.

    Also – GREAT start for Pineda tonight for Trenton. Looks like he’ll be back in the show well before Jesus. Baffling how that seems to have turned around!!

  8. jordan on June 25th, 2013 6:42 pm

    So, Ackley is back up and finds himself not playing. Good way to keep his confidence going.

  9. PackBob on June 25th, 2013 6:47 pm

    I don’t often feel bad for someone making millions of dollars a year, but Guti sure has my sympathy.

    Maybe Ackley will seize the moment and finally break through.

  10. Will Lofton on June 25th, 2013 7:06 pm

    Was hoping to see Ackley in the outfield today.

    Triunfel is horrible. -0.6 WAR in 8 games played.

  11. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 7:15 pm

    It’s raining again… guess I’ll watch the start at least. :-D

  12. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 7:16 pm

    How nice it must be to have a dynamic team.

  13. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 7:23 pm

    Gritty beats Dynamic, every time.

  14. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 7:27 pm

    I want to see Raul Ibañez hit a home run in every game from now until the trade deadline.

    I suspect Z won’t even consider any trade offers for the guy, though.

  15. Longgeorge1 on June 25th, 2013 7:38 pm

    Guess I did a bit of the dine and dash on Sunday with my Raul comment,he is only in the field because of the disaster that is the M’s outfield. He tries but is open to critics because others can’t even show up healthy. I am a fossil, but not so much that I diss Bill James and his theories. I am quite the fan of Billy Beane and will once again be pulling for the underdog A’s in the playoffs. My earliest memories of baseball are around Willie Mays making the catch in the ’54 series. Mays became my hero. Now thanks to Mr. James I realize that fielding isn’t all that important and maybe that catch wasn’t that big a deal. Years later I’m in the northwest and my M’s are doing battle with the pre-Beane A’s. The score is tied, bottom of the 9th and up comes Ricky Fucking Henderson he’s squatting so much in his stance that no one could throw a strike. Ricky walks, Ricky steals 2nd,, ball goes past 2nd into center Ricky is on 3rd, batter ques one up the middle and Ricky scores. A,s win Again. But now I realize that the A’s won despite Ricky running not because of it. Anyway back to Raul. It’s a cold dark damp night in late September. A meaningless moment in a meaningless game. A ball soars into the empty seats in right field. The 4000 fans present go crazy, Sims and Blowers go crazy in the TV booth. Raul has become the first 41 year old to hit 30 Hrs. He has passed Ted Williams. Baseball loves to celebrate meaningless statistical oddities. Somewhere outside of Tumwater some old guy is laughing a crazy laugh. The girlfriend asks ” are you hearing voices again?” Yea the’re saying his War is 0, his WAR is 0.

  16. msfanmike on June 25th, 2013 7:41 pm

    Man, blind assed luck is a wonderful thing. I bought tickets to tomorrow’s game – months ago. Felix is pitching and Ackley is likely making his OF debut. I’ll take it!

    I would rather be lucky than good.

    I would also rather have Joe Saunders be somewhere other than here.

  17. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 7:41 pm

    Looks like outfield defense really isn’t going to matter today. Wedge was prescient.

  18. KiWiNiNjA on June 25th, 2013 7:42 pm

    Hmmm, I seemed to have tuned in on BP.

    When does the game start?

  19. Calculon on June 25th, 2013 7:47 pm

    R.I.P., Joe Saunders trade value.

  20. Will Lofton on June 25th, 2013 7:49 pm

    I either want this team to go on an absolute tear and keep things interesting or completely fall apart so guys can get fired and we can get a top draft pick, hopefully of the caliber of Harper or Strasburg. I hate being ten games under .500, because it shows we’re not competitive but it also shows that Wedgie and Z haven’t been bad enough to lose their jobs.

    I’m going to go play some Xbox. Hopefully I can tune in to a close game in the sixth inning.

  21. WestyHerr on June 25th, 2013 7:49 pm

    Justin Smoak has 10 RBIs.

  22. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 7:51 pm

    I wanted a HOMER, dammit!

  23. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 7:55 pm

    That’s what this team is like; grit in your potato salad at the beach. You don’t know it’s there, and then suddenly your teeth are being sanded down.

  24. msfanmike on June 25th, 2013 7:57 pm

    Smoak is taking this new-fangled sabermetric stuff seriously and showing (in his own way) that RBI’s really aren’t all that important.

  25. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 8:00 pm

    Triunfel’s average looks abysmal, but if nine or ten of those balls had fallen in he’d be hitting .500.

  26. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:00 pm

    Let’s see what Brad Mill…er… can do here. Damn. It’s Triunfel.

  27. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:01 pm

    That’s positive thinking… The glass is 1/20th full, instead of 19/20th empty.

    I like it.

  28. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 8:02 pm

    Hey! Good job Carlos!

  29. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:03 pm

    The reverse jinx works to perfection… (Nice job Carlos).

  30. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Did I miss batting practice?

  31. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Okay, I’m taking a Mario Party break.

    Bryce, round two might be coming up…

  32. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:05 pm

    Only part of it, Blake is pitching batting practice now…

  33. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:06 pm

    You should try “plants versus zombies”… My 5 year old is sitting next to me playing it on iPad.

    Poor kid, his bedtime is totally dependent on how long the M’s can keep a game close…

    I just gave him the “5 minutes” warning.

  34. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 8:07 pm

    Well, at least that play didn’t bite us in the butt…

    MrZ: I think you may need to find a new bellwether for bedtime, otherwise you may find that your kid is in bed by 2 PM on matinee days…

  35. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 8:09 pm

    AEeeeiii…I hadn’t paid attention, but this went from a Saunders to a Beaven start? Fat, fire!

  36. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 8:10 pm

    Juneau, Saunders got a quick hook…

  37. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:11 pm

    Hey!? Are we allowed to get 3 guys out in a row like that? Isn’t that cheating?

  38. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 8:12 pm

    True… Maybe matinees are “keep it close + six hours” (laugh)…

  39. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 8:12 pm

    Well, I saw the part where he went away, hah-hah, but I sorta missed who came in. Then the fly ball went back, back, back, and I got a pretty good idea.

  40. Will Lofton on June 25th, 2013 8:24 pm

    Time to chip away.

  41. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 8:24 pm

    Do I dare say that Beavan looks halfway watchable tonight?

  42. Will Lofton on June 25th, 2013 8:35 pm

    Jeff Locke isn’t THAT good. He’s gotten so lucky this season. He’s throwing 80% fastballs this game, most of them in the zone, and we’re watching most of them go by for strikes or making weak contact. Really frustarating.

  43. seasick on June 25th, 2013 8:43 pm

    This is not a comment about Triunfel’s performance tonight, but every time I hear his name I hear “Try-n-fail.”

  44. jephdood on June 25th, 2013 8:56 pm

    “…and we’re watching most of them go by for strikes or making weak contact. Really frustarating.”

    Will, is this the first M’s game you’ve seen this year?

  45. Longgeorge1 on June 25th, 2013 9:04 pm

    Walker 6ip 3h 1w 0r

  46. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 9:09 pm

    I’d abandon the game, but the cat’s sat on my legs and I can’t get up.

  47. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 9:09 pm

    … and the words that strike fear in USSMariner nation: “Tom Wilhelmsen is warming up in the pen.”

  48. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 9:12 pm

    So funny, I was thinking, the kid’s going to hit a homer to make up for that error and run.

  49. Longgeorge1 on June 25th, 2013 9:12 pm

    Has anyone seen Erasmo?

  50. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 9:13 pm


  51. jephdood on June 25th, 2013 9:20 pm

    This would be the perfect game to throw Wilhelmsen into. He can’t hurt anything.

  52. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 9:22 pm

    Wilhelmsen needs a clean inning…Yeah, please don’t crap your shorts.

    Of course, could be Papelbon, who’s blown 4 games in 5 or something awful?

  53. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 9:28 pm

    I’ve wasted WAY too many hours playing Plants vs. Zombies, MrZ.

    I see I haven’t missed much…

  54. Eastside Suds on June 25th, 2013 9:30 pm

    Agreed that Locke looks very ordinary, but a 2.0 ERA is no mirage after 15 starts. The guy is obviously a bulldog. MLB hitters are only hitting .200 against him. That’s not luck. I wish we had him!

  55. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 9:34 pm

    Just finished the bedtime routine… How did Wilhelmssn look? I see he had 3 K’s in his 1 inning…

    And Seager went yard.

  56. Bodhizefa on June 25th, 2013 9:37 pm

    Blowers just said that Carl Willis told him that Carter Capps would be working on his change-up over next winter so he’d have a better arsenal against lefties. Is this how it normally works? Why wouldn’t he work on it now? If he’s not ready to play a role against hitters from both sides of the plate, why is he in the major leagues? Why can’t he develop a change-up in the minors?

    I don’t understand this organization at all. Our development process is decidedly mercurial.

  57. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 9:37 pm

    Capps has suddenly become the master of the low/inside fastball… Which we all know where THOSE end up…

    He’s either up and middle of the plate, or low, inside part of plate– NEITHER are a good place to pitch in the majors for a fastball pitcher.

  58. Bodhizefa on June 25th, 2013 9:38 pm

    MrZ, Wilhelmsen looked pretty darned good. He located his curve extremely well and had great results because of it. He still had a couple of errant fastballs, but he looked light years better than we’ve seen him in the past few weeks. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

  59. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 9:39 pm

    Thanks! I was hopeful the curve was back if he had 3 K’s… Which is why I asked… That’s good news.

  60. Eastside Suds on June 25th, 2013 9:42 pm

    Willy has just been mental. Good decision to get him in this game to see if he can regain some confidence. This staff needs him to be the “BARTENDER” again, not just some bartender.

  61. MrZDevotee on June 25th, 2013 9:50 pm

    I believe that covers BOTH of Capps problem areas… (points to “up and middle” pitch)

  62. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 9:51 pm

    Are we trying to throw the game or what? Dingers for all!

  63. The_Waco_Kid on June 25th, 2013 9:52 pm

    The score of this game is:
    Seager, Franklin, and Wilhelmson did well
    Zunino and Capps did poorly.

  64. Roscoe on June 25th, 2013 9:54 pm

    Mr Walker had a very nice debut. Six scoreless innings.

  65. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 9:58 pm

    Maybe we’ll package Walker and Franklin and pick up another veteran.

  66. Eastside Suds on June 25th, 2013 10:00 pm

    So…someone setup the poll this week or next. Who do the M’s move before the trade deadline? Raul…..Morales…..Perez…..Ryan…..Saunders?

  67. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 10:03 pm

    It would sure make sense to trade Raul given how he’s hitting… but I think Wedge really wants him here, so Jack won’t even consider it.

  68. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 10:07 pm

    Hey now, Justin Smoak! Greetings and well met!

  69. juneau_fan on June 25th, 2013 10:07 pm

    Nice. Always good when it’s less embarrassing.

  70. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 10:08 pm


  71. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 10:10 pm

    Eastside, I would hazard a guess that it would be Wedge and Z gone before the deadline…

  72. Westside guy on June 25th, 2013 10:14 pm

    After 78 games…

    2012 Mariners: 33-45, 312 RS, 337 RA (diff -25)
    2013 Mariners: 34-44, 281 RS, 343 RA (diff -62)

    The WAR arguments do seem supportable when you’re looking at the end results…

  73. Eastside Suds on June 25th, 2013 10:18 pm

    Stop being a tease nvn

  74. nvn8vbryce on June 25th, 2013 10:38 pm

    Tease? I can only hope, right?

  75. bongo on June 26th, 2013 1:49 pm

    Bodhizefa said:

    “I don’t understand this organization at all. Our development process is decidedly mercurial.”

    It’s not mercurial, it is non-existent. Players who show a semblance of out-performing their AAA peers are called up before they’ve developed all the tools they need to survive in MLB. Looking back, Montero, Smoak, Ackley, Capps, Morrow were all brought up prematurely. My bet is we will say the same of Zunino pretty soon. Of the recent promotions, only Franklin looks ready to me.

    After watching Walker in Tacoma last night, I’m scared that they’ll promote him this year. Yes, he has good velocity (95+ fastball) and reasonable control (2 walks vs. 4 Ks) but he needs to work on a changeup and he doesn’t have good enough control of his curveball (though he did get 2 Ks out of it last night).

    What *exactly* is the coaching staff doing in AAA? If they can’t teach Capps (and Walker) how to throw a changeup, why can’t we get someone who can?

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