Game 91, Red Sox at Mariners

marc w · July 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Aaron Harang vs. Felix Doubront, 7:10pm

For all the talk of the M’s rotten luck – injuries to Morse, Morales, Hultzen, Erasmo, the abysmal hitting of Ryan/Andino/Ackley, etc. – it’s worth remembering how much has gone *right* for this team. I feel like we, or baseball in general, isn’t paying enough attention to just how bonkers Raul Ibanez’s season has been, and what it would look like if he didn’t stumble his way to a 43 wRC+ plus atrocious defense through April. The fact that his season numbers look great – and they do – is astonishing given how little time he’s had to essentially make up for a lost month.

Dave hits on the other pleasant surprise of the year so far with his Brad Miller post below. Miller’s (tiny sample) success on defense has logical explanations, and we talked about them before his debut, but the fact is that he could’ve come up and booted enough balls that Wedge would feel compelled to bring back Ryan. In Miller and Franklin, the M’s had two competent defenders with a penchant for missing easy chances, and they’ve both come up to Seattle and improved defensively. One could quibble with these improvements being talked about in the context of “good luck” but it’s certainly something that could’ve gone wrong and didn’t.

The M’s have had good luck and bad, and they’re in 4th place, 10 games under .500. I’m not going to lie and say that the past month or so hasn’t been encouraging, or that scoring 19 runs in two games against Boston hasn’t been fun. It’s exciting to see the outlines of the 2014 team coming together, and how the M’s shopping list has shifted from “good luck” positions like SS/C to places where they may be able to comparison shop (COF). But the team’s still *4th* and the gap between them and Oakland/Texas looks somewhat daunting, despite Texas’ even-worse luck and Oakland not having household names. Things can change in a hurry, though, and you can envision a much better pitching staff for ’14, but the M’s have quite a hill to climb.

Felix Doubront is a lefty with a 91mph fastball and a fairly standard array of pitches: change, slider, curve. He’s somewhat interesting to me though in that 1) he gets more strikeouts than you’d think (21-23%), and 2) he doesn’t materially alter his pitch mix to RHB/LHB. With a change and a slider, he’s got the tools to do so, but he throws the change over 10% of the time to lefties and gives righties a dollop of sliders. This hasn’t hurt him too much, if it all, and I’m not sure whether it’s just a coincidence or a consequence of a somewhat different strategy that he’s posted essentially no platoon splits in his career. Take out BABIP and they’re a touch more normal, as his worse walk rate and a tiny bit higher HR rate to righties give his FIP splits a more traditional look. But this is a guy who’s faced overwhelmingly righty line-ups this year, and I’m not sure that there’s a huge advantage to rejiggering a line-up like that. Of course, the M’s can’t do much of that, but they won’t mind that this is a pretty good match-up, given that they’re going to be throwing a lefty-heavy line-up at a lefty pitcher.

Line-up:
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Ibanez, LF
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Bay, RF
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Saunders, CF
9: Blanco, C
SP: Harang

Greg Johns reports that Stephen Pryor’s throwing a simulated game today against Mike Morse, Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley. I wonder if Pryor will be spooked by the sight of batters running at full speed when he comes back.

Sad news from Trenton, where the AA Thunder’s beloved “bat dog” Chase died after a battle with cancer. The Thunder honored Chase’s service with a retirement party three days ago. Chase’s puppy, Derby, will take over the duty of actually grabbing bats and balls and passing water to umpires, while another of his offspring, Ollie, serves in the same capacity with AA New Hampshire.

Not much of note in the minors today. Brian Sweeney vs. Sean O’Sullivan in AAA, which is one of the most AAA-ist possible match-ups. Sweeney will pitch to Mike Wilson, and O’Sullivan will face Carlos Peguero and the lights of Tucson will seem to say, “PCL 4 Life.”

Carter Capps is not right, and he may be looking at a trip back to AAA Tacoma sooner than later. His awful numbers against lefties are well known, and at the very least partially explained by his arm angle, but he’s getting hit hard by righties too, and that shouldn’t be happening. His velocity’s down nearly 3mph vs. last year, though of course that’s not a perfect comparison given when he was promoted in 2012, but 96mph from a foot behind your head should be death on a stick against righties, and instead Jose Iglesias looked comfy and confident in pulling a line-drive RBI single against Capps yesterday. Someone mentioned on twitter that he’s getting more of the plate this year, but it’s hard to see that consistently – his zone percentage is down, fractionally, though looking at his zone profile at Brooks Baseball, he looks to be leaving more pitches centered. Whatever the case, it may be time to work on fixing him somewhere else. Logan Bawcom and Brian Moran are pitching well for Tacoma but aren’t on the 40-man (though there’s an open spot on the roster now), and Josh Kinney’s familiar, at least. Carson Smith figures to get a long look at the MLB bullpen next year, so he’s someone who could get a chance later on in 2013.

Comments

39 Responses to “Game 91, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. Choo on July 10th, 2013 5:32 pm

    In the Jarrod Saltalamacchia interview at FG, Salty touched on something sort of interesting about Doubront:

    “Felix Doubront, in his last few outings, has been doing something to be a little more deceptive. We’ve worked on kind of getting a little… it’s almost like a Felix Hernandez turn. It’s not as drastic — it’s just a little bit — but it keeps him loading on his backside and not jumping.”

    The Felix Turn might be a trend. I have noticed a few other pitchers doing this in 2013 as well – guys who did not do it previously.

  2. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 7:33 pm

    Come ON, Harang! Quit sucking!

  3. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 7:33 pm

    Get ahead and THROW STRIKES!!!!

  4. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 7:34 pm

    Opposite universes—-same thoughts

  5. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 7:34 pm

    Another Ibañez dribbler throw – it barely made it to second!

  6. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 7:35 pm

    Hehe Eastside.

  7. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 7:36 pm

    M’s are only team in the league that need to double cut all balls to left when Raul is out there. Horrible

  8. giuseppe on July 10th, 2013 7:51 pm

    Why didn’t Saunders catch that ball? Not that it would have saved a run, but at least his throw isn’t embarrassing.

  9. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Tonight shows how far away we are from competing with the big boys. They are better mentally, physically, experientially and have a better manager. Other than that, we are completely equal!!

  10. juneau_fan on July 10th, 2013 8:05 pm

    I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to type stop pitching to Ortiz before Wedge hears the rat-a-tat of my keys. Jeez!

  11. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 8:07 pm

    Of course, when Felix is on the hill, he can (and usually is) the great equilizer. After Fekix and a usually good Kuma, we are in BIG trouble against the good teams.

  12. juneau_fan on July 10th, 2013 8:10 pm

    When the Hamilton shampoo ad was on early, I had to laugh to myself, realizing the Old Man Hairless Ibanez is out-hitting him this year. But of course, a trip into Safeco will cure what’s ailing him.

  13. don52656 on July 10th, 2013 8:16 pm

    Seems to me that Ramirez up–>Capps down is the logical move here, since Luetge can slide into the Capps role of giving up lots of hits and may even be able to get a lefty or two out occasionally.

  14. californiamariner on July 10th, 2013 8:16 pm

    Eastside, pitchers 3-5 suck. So yeah anybody would be in trouble when their only 2 good pitchers are not playing. Hopefully Erasmo solves one of the problems.

  15. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 8:21 pm

    We have high school softball outfielders who have a better arm that Raul does

  16. juneau_fan on July 10th, 2013 8:23 pm

    Yeah, Harang, you’re not in the NL Central anymore. Stop throwing 86 in the middle of the plate.

  17. californiamariner on July 10th, 2013 8:49 pm

    Franklin seems to have hit his first bump in the road. Hopefully he gets back on track soon. At least Saunders seems to be hitting the ball better recently.

  18. Longgeorge1 on July 10th, 2013 8:49 pm

    Choo – Back in the early 60′s BoSox had a Luis Tiant who really had a “Felix” turn. Seems as if back then most pitchers had some kind of quirky wind up. With “better” mechanics and instruction a lot of those homemade moves have disappeared maybe some pitchers are picking up on Felix. Back to the future again

  19. juneau_fan on July 10th, 2013 8:58 pm

    And…I’m outahere….

  20. G-Man on July 10th, 2013 9:00 pm

    Ouch. An error like one of my softball teams makes.

  21. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Wedge has given up on the game, too.

    He pulled Raul.

  22. Longgeorge1 on July 10th, 2013 9:32 pm

    Momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher – Please Erasmo don’tsuck

  23. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 9:45 pm

    Franklin is a bit beat up and probably a bit of mental fatigue. One thing most fans (not us of course) don’t realize is what a grind it is at the MLB level. These kids that have been called up haven’t experienced the “grind” yet. They will. We all witnessed Ackley when he experienced it late in his first season. Most aren’t used to the 200 game marathon including ST (plus winter ball for some of them). Seager is now, but I’d like to see Wedge get him a break once a month. They will all go through it as a natural process. We are witnessing their MLB adolescent process before our eyes.

  24. Ralph_Malph on July 10th, 2013 9:51 pm

    Luis Tiant pitched with Boston from 1971-1978, not in the early 60s. He didn’t retire until 1982.

  25. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 9:55 pm

    BRENDAN RYAN flashes some power!

  26. nvn8vbryce on July 10th, 2013 9:57 pm

    Is there anyone looking for an excellent batting practice pitcher, because we have a deal for you! You will receive one high-quality batting practice pitcher in Mr. Harang and all we ask in return is one bag of baseballs and a bucket of mud…

  27. Longgeorge1 on July 10th, 2013 9:58 pm

    Ok I was smoking too much weed at the time. Cleveland in the 60′s BoSox later but the motion was more what I was Talking

  28. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 10:01 pm

    Hey there Kendrys!

  29. Eastside Suds on July 10th, 2013 10:07 pm

    Good to see these guys not mailing it in. Says something about their character. Wedge has alluded to it.

  30. HighlightsAt11 on July 10th, 2013 10:18 pm

    What happened to the Mariners relief corp?

  31. HighlightsAt11 on July 10th, 2013 10:22 pm

    Z says he is not actively pursuing trades. So is he actively attempting to re-sign some of the Mariners soon to be FA’s?

  32. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 10:31 pm

    I wouldn’t mind him re-signing Morales, but that seems unlikely.

    He has to eject a couple of the veterans, I’d think. I’m wondering if Morse’s injuries will make his signing less likely.

  33. nvn8vbryce on July 10th, 2013 10:33 pm

    Highlights, see: eviscerated in the dictionary. That’s our relief corps.

  34. nvn8vbryce on July 10th, 2013 10:33 pm

    Westy: can we get Boeing to donate some ejection seats so we can eject players, coaches and management out of the Safe?

  35. Westside guy on July 10th, 2013 10:36 pm

    That could be a special promotion, Bryce!

  36. nvn8vbryce on July 10th, 2013 10:39 pm

    That would be an E ticket ride for sure! I’m not sure how Chuck and Howard would feel about it, however…

  37. eponymous coward on July 10th, 2013 10:52 pm

    Z says he is not actively pursuing trades. So is he actively attempting to re-sign some of the Mariners soon to be FA’s

    More like he’s actively trying not to tell the fans “sorry, but the season’s over except for playing the kids after I dump what I can. Come back next year after I sign a bunch of mediocre free agents and give you the same line I’ve given the last half-decade about how awesome we’ll be once the kids mature.”

    Given what he’s gotten back in trades lately, I’m not convinced he’d net a whole lot anyway. Ooooh, look, a B prospect for the bullpen! Plus cash! And a coupon for a Grand Slam at Denny’s!

  38. bfgboy on July 10th, 2013 11:11 pm

    On the bright side, Alex Liddi went 2 for 3 with a homer and 5 RBIs tonight….perhaps it’s a GOOD thing that Z is not “pursuing trades.”

  39. Westside guy on July 11th, 2013 10:25 am

    In 188 major league plate appearances, Alex Liddi has run a 38.8% strikeout rate. Given that strikeout rate is one of the first statistics to stabilize, and players who strike out anywhere near that often just don’t turn into major league quality players… I’m not going to worry too much about him going 2 for 3 in one game.

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