Game 101, Indians at Mariners

marc w · July 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Joe Saunders vs. Scott Kazmir, 12:40pm

Early game today as the Indians continue to try to figure out the suddenly invincible M’s. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a game turn on a base running error like Drew Stubbs’ last night. They looked certain to tie the game, at minimum, against a struggling Tom Wilhelmsen, but then Stubbs decided to make that kamikaze dash for home.

Today’s game features Scott Kazmir, perhaps the feel good story of the spring, and I suppose the feel-good story of the summer now that Jeremy Bonderman got DFA’d. It’s just stunning to see how much Kazmir looks like, well, “classic” Scott Kazmir. His release point’s the same, the pitch mix is essentially the same (though he’s got a new curve), and his velocity’s better than it was in 2008. He’s striking people out again, and if his walks are a bit high, well, they always used to be back when he was good. On the other hand, the problems he had back in 2008 are still the same problems he has now.

Now, I said the problems he had in *2008*. His problems from 2009-2012 (all filed under the overarching category of “being a terrible pitcher”) were much, much bigger, and he would happily trade garden variety MLB pitching problems for “I’m-really-letting-down-my-fellow-Sugarland-Skeeters” problems. But even when he was an exciting young talent, Kazmir had big platoon splits and an on-again, off-again home run problem that went with those splits. Elite velocity kept things manageable early on, as he gave up 11 HRs to righties in 2005 out of 648 batters faced. His walk rate improved in 2006 and then he put it all together in 2007, maintaining a decent walk rate and HR rate to righties. All told, he held them .334 wOBA/3.42 FIP, which is great for a fastball/slider pitcher facing opposite-handed batsmen. Then 2008 happened. A low BABIP makes the wOBA look OK, but 22 HRs in 500 batters faced pushed his FIP vs. righties over *5*. He’s always been dominant against lefties, so his results hinge on what righties do. So far in 2013, it’s looking like a repeat of 2008. Like Ubaldo Jimenez and last night’s starter, Zach McAllister, Kazmir keeps the ball down and away from same-handed batters, while trying to go up and away to righties. And like them, he’s got very different GB rates to RHB/LHBs. Given his problems, I’m surprised that he’s employing this strategy, but I’m not a pitching coach. To be fair, when he reaches up and away zones, righties have fared poorly. The problem is when he misses his spots and leaves when up and out over the plate; not surprisingly for a guy without top-flight command, Kazmir’s done this rather often.

Righties have 13 HRs in 276 PAs, and a .374 wOBA. Lefties are still hitting like Brendan Ryan against Kazmir, but righties are hitting like Raul and Yadier Molina. You have to figure Kazmir’s circled this game on his calendar as a potential good match-up. He got knocked around by the M’s back on May 20th, but that line-up was heavily right-handed, with Kelly Shoppach, Jesus Montero, Mike Morse, Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino and Jason Bay. Only one of that group suits up today, and if the M’s are much more left-handed now, they are also not irredeemably awful (Andino AND Montero AND Ryan. Ouch). This is not a great match-up for the new-look Mariners, but I would rather watch the new-look Mariners than see if Robert Andino can slap another single off of Kazmir.

1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Bay, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Saunders, CF
8: Chavez, LF
9: Blanco, C
SP: Saunders

The M’s are going for their 9th straight win, something they haven’t done since 2003. You may recall they also won 8 in a row in the second half of last season.

Edwin Diaz is the notable pitcher in the system tonight, as he starts for Pulaski in the Appy League against the Princeton Rays.

Ex-top 10 M’s prospect Vinnie Catricala was DFA’d by Oakland today after putting up a .219/.292/.297 in 128 ABs for Midland of the Texas League. Have no idea what happened to the guy who tore through the SL a few years ago, and hope Catricala can get back to that form with someone. Man, that collapse was as thorough as it was quick.

Jack Z mentioned on the radio that he still doesn’t know what happened with M’s skipper Eric Wedge. This is as good a time as any to say that while we’ve all had our issues with Wedge, the pale in significance to a health scare like this. Get well soon, Wedge.

Great stat article from Bill Petti here about when pitchers get strikes called on “Edge” pitches – those on the outer portion of the strike zone. Most interesting, at least to me, was the finding that RHPs get more “Edge” strikes called when facing LHBs. We’ve known about the “left hand strike zone” for a little while, and this is a complimentary but distinct finding. If sabermetrics ruined you, Dustin Ackley, they can also really help you understand why sticking to your own sense of the zone on outside pitches wasn’t working. So, we’ll call it even, right?


33 Responses to “Game 101, Indians at Mariners”

  1. Paul B on July 24th, 2013 12:22 pm

    I like the way the back of the rotation has been doing OK.

    I’ll probably jinx it, but the bottom 3 have been surprisingly good lately.

  2. Paul B on July 24th, 2013 12:25 pm

    I’m going to guess that either Endy or Bay is in right. Otherwise it will be kinda crowded in left.

  3. californiamariner on July 24th, 2013 12:25 pm

    Worst lineup we’ve had in a while. But let’s make it 9 anyway!

  4. californiamariner on July 24th, 2013 12:47 pm

    Sac bunt your 3 hitter in the top of the 1st? Ok then

  5. djw on July 24th, 2013 12:49 pm

    Yikes Saunders doesn’t want to be traded, I suppose.

  6. jjenson on July 24th, 2013 12:50 pm

    This is not looking pretty to start out today. Hopefully our offense is on today.

  7. Paul B on July 24th, 2013 12:51 pm

    Well, it couldn’t last forever. Maybe we’ll only have one bad start this time around.

  8. Barrel on July 24th, 2013 1:07 pm

    Looks like it is Batting Practice Joe for the day thus far.

  9. djw on July 24th, 2013 1:08 pm

    What the hell? “Ball 4” was down the middle.

  10. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 1:22 pm

    “The shareef don’t like it
    Rocking the Kazmir
    Rock the Kazmir……”

    They can score off this guy. Question is, can they hold the Indians at bay when “ball 4” is right down the middle and with Joe Saunders on the mound?

    Going to need a bunch of runs today.

  11. jjenson on July 24th, 2013 1:27 pm

    That fly ball was crazy. Sucks it tanked like that but never seen a ball die like that when a line drive.

  12. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 1:56 pm

    In a college game, I saw a line-drive hit the CF in the chest because it was knuckling so hard. I am not surprised to hear that a line drive would die/dive. I didn’t see the one you are talking about, but when the ball is pasted squarely – they can have some severe knuckle ball action.

  13. Ralph_Malph on July 24th, 2013 2:01 pm

    Although I hope the winning streak could go on forever, if it has to end, a no-hitter by Scott Kazmir would be an appropriately bizarre way for it to end. Especially a no-hitter which isn’t a shutout.

  14. jephdood on July 24th, 2013 2:03 pm

    Please deal Saunders. Whenever I see him on the mound I break out into a series of eye-watering yawns.

  15. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2013 2:08 pm

    I’m sure they’re pullin’ Joe because he’s just been traded for a solid prospect.

  16. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 2:13 pm

    Yeah, they probably just traded him for Casper Wells.

  17. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 2:15 pm


  18. MoreMariners on July 24th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Second time Bourn gets strike three that isn’t called. Grand slam. Why is Noesi in?

  19. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Or Vinnie Catricala!

  20. jjenson on July 24th, 2013 2:17 pm

    Yeah I played baseball and have seen balls dive but this one seemed to just completely drop off on tv anyways.

    Looked crazy but this game is probably done now. No way we get 8 runs today I don’t feel like. But we got the series win agains the tribe and that is what matters winning every series. Hopefully we can start a new streak tomorrow and get back to winning.

  21. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 2:18 pm

    Nice, Steve … you won that round!

    They can just pick up Catricala from the scrap heap without even having to over-trade for him, though.


  22. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2013 2:20 pm

    This isn’t suppose happen. I expected consecutive wins until they were tied for first.

  23. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2013 2:24 pm

    We may not see many or any trades before the deadline, but I’m dying of curiosity regarding Jack, Eric, and the outfield.

  24. Westside guy on July 24th, 2013 2:43 pm

    I’ve missed most of the game due to meetings… sounds like it’s been a good game to miss.

    Have they said any more about Wedge’s health issue? Is he still in the hospital?

  25. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 2:48 pm

    Well, if Dustin Ackley can start chanelling his inner “Lenny Dykstra” instead of his inner “Billy Bean,” consistently (at least from an on-the- field perspective)- that would solve 1 of the outfield problems.


    How they might solve the other 1.5 OF problems in the long-term is another matter.

    Wedge’s situation may eventually be handled based on whatever his health dictates. And that could turn out to be a win-win for everybody. I do hope he is healthy and I do hope they find something else for him to do.

  26. jephdood on July 24th, 2013 3:02 pm

    Maybe the M’s brass didn’t want to continue those streak ticket discounts and mandated the team tank it today.

  27. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2013 3:04 pm

    Yeah, kind of a tough situation with Ackley. I’d probably make plans around him, but I’m not ready to completely bail on him. Romero might be an option as well, but they can’t bank on just Saunders, Ackley, and Romero for the 2014 outfield (starters).

    I wonder if Wedge has vertigo? I’ve seen it hit a few people, including a girlfriend. Not a pleasant thing to go through.

  28. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 3:10 pm

    “Dizziness” can be related to any one of a thousand different things, so it is not surprising that it would take a while to figure things out and make a diagnosis. Being able to “rule things out” (especially the potentially serious things) can take a long, long time.

    And I know you know this, already. I just like to hear myself type.

  29. msfanmike on July 24th, 2013 3:14 pm

    Erase this game from the memory banks and bring on the Twins!

    Winning that series would mean winning 3 out of 4 games – and that would be excellent! Kuma and Felix both going early in the Twins series certainly makes it a viable possibility.

  30. jephdood on July 24th, 2013 3:46 pm

    From KJR/Softy – “Eric Wedge had a mild stroke. Will not manage next 3 series”

  31. MrZDevotee on July 24th, 2013 4:34 pm

    I just read the same thing on CBSSports… re: Eric Wedge… “A mild stroke.”

    Holy crap.

  32. pgreyy on July 24th, 2013 7:47 pm

    I’m curious as to what technology msfanmike is using where he can still hear himself type…

  33. Westside guy on July 24th, 2013 9:28 pm

    Mike records his thoughts on a Steno machine, then hands the paper output to his transcriptionist wife – who then types those thoughts into the USSMariner reply box.

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