Game 102, Twins at Mariners

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

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Kevin Correia, 7:10pm

The Twins look terrible right now, and it’s hard to imagine that it was just a few years ago that they won 94 games and the AL Central title. Injuries have played a big role in their collapse, but as Matthew points out, so too has their fondness for pitch-to-contact mediocrities in the rotation. Their staff has a combined K/9 from 2011-2013 of 5.92, far and away the lowest in baseball (Baltimore’s #29, at 6.79). Perhaps not surprisingly, they’re near the bottom in pitcher WAR too, and if you restrict it just to starters, they move even closer to the bottom. This is an organizational philosophy, and it’s really hard to find any evidence that it’s working. It’s as if Twins management is standing athwart this long-running trend towards increasing K% yelling, “Stop.”

Kevin Correia is perhaps the walking, breathing, pitching embodiment of this philosophy, a pitch-to-contact journeyman with a 91mph fastball and a cutter he throws more than any other pitch. And he was signed as a free agent this offseason to a two-year, $10m contract, more guaranteed money than Joe Saunders signed for, and a contract that makes him one of the highest paid Twinkies. Correia isn’t terrible (he was an All-Star in 2009! Whether that says more about Correia or the All-Star game says a lot about you), but he’s evidence that it’s not clear that the Twins are saving any money by pursuing this strategy. Sure, the highest paid pitchers – the Verlanders and the Felixes and the Kershaws – miss bats and strike people out. But it’s not clear why they found Correia’s brand of mediocrity more enticing than one of their home-grown pitch-to-contacters, and it’s not clear what the Twins (who lost nearly 100 games in 2012 and didn’t figure to contend in 2013) thought they were getting for their money.

Home runs are still plentiful, so perhaps the Twins have been trying to figure out how to replicate the bizarre HR/FB “skills” of guys like Matt Cain. If so, then Correia wouldn’t seem to fit the bill. He’s been fairly consistent over his career; he gives up slightly more HRs than average, as one would expect for a pitch-to-contact guy without Yoervis Medina’s walk rate. And again, that makes him fairly normal for the twins: Nick Blackburn always had a HR/9 over 1, Kevin Slowey’s HR-mania nearly knocked him out of the big leagues*, etc. Their starters have averaged 1.22 HR/9 since 2011, 3rd most in the majors. I’m a simple guy, so maybe there’s a long-term strategy at play that drive-by analysts like me can’t discern. With that said, I have no idea what the Twins think they’re buying.

Correia’s got essentially even platoon splits in 2013 and over his long-ish career, which is too bad as he faces a lefty-loaded line-up tonight. But those splits are even solely because Correia gives up so many HRs to righties. It’s not like he’s got a great change-up to neutralize lefties, he’s just an equal-opportunity offender. He put his slider on the shelf late in 2010, and since 2011 has thrown over 30% cutters. It’s thrown at around 88-89 mph, and it functions like a fastball in many ways. Initially, the new look may have disrupted some hitters, who may have become used to his more traditional slider. Since then though, hitters have been doing steadily more damage against it. He’ll throw some change-ups as well, and he also has a curve ball. The cutter’s still somewhat effective to lefties, but when you factor in that he throws it when he’s ahead in the count, it begins to look as middle of the road as everything else about Kevin Correia. Righties destroy his cutter, so Mike Zunino is in a pretty good match-up despite the righty-righty aspect of it. Lefties feast on his fastballs, and also walk more often, so while this isn’t quite as good a match-up as, say, Bud Norris, this looks promising for the M’s.

1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Ibanez, LF
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Saunders, RF
8: Zunino, C
9: Ackley, CF
SP: Iwakuma

Word on Eric Wedge’s mysterious illness is that he suffered a mild stroke. While the modifier “mild” is somewhat encouraging, that’s a serious issue for a young man (Eric Wedge is just 45). Anything in the brain should be treated cautiously, and while I’m glad the M’s think he’ll be back soon, I’m also glad that he’s going to be on bed rest at home for a while. It’s just the Twins, Wedge – Robby’s got this for a while. Again, best wishes for a complete recovery as soon as possible.

Taijuan Walker leads the Tacoma Rainiers against Tucson tonight at Cheney, while Lars Huijer starts at home for Everett. Good night to check out a ballgame in the Puget Sound region. It’s Sounders night at Cheney, with local boy Lamar Neagle throwing out the first pitch and signing autographs.

* Since Slowey now toils for the Miami Marlins, some may argue that it has.


90 Responses to “Game 102, Twins at Mariners”

  1. scraps on July 25th, 2013 8:44 pm

    That said, I’m having fun.

  2. Westside guy on July 25th, 2013 8:48 pm

    I’m enjoying this too – but remember, there’s more to being a GM than drafting. No one is disputing that Z knows how to draft well.

    However he’s also the guy that is directly responsible for having four guys on the roster whose best position is probably DH, and the reason we’ve been speculating what’s going to happen when Morse comes back (because there are already too many old guys).

  3. spuuky on July 25th, 2013 9:00 pm

    You can wait for more convincing wins all you want, but the can only play the teams they are scheduled to play, and perhaps more importantly than winning, they are actually scoring runs. More runs than any other team in the last month, for instance. A month is still pretty short, but it’s not THAT short.

  4. TherzAlwaysHope on July 25th, 2013 9:00 pm

    Top of the 5th, I zeroed in on Zunino — I thought, that kids wrist is killing him. I bet he’s out for a while. For those with DVR, just watch him and you will know how much pain he was in. Tendonitis?

  5. Kazinski on July 25th, 2013 9:03 pm

    However he’s also the guy that is directly responsible for having four guys on the roster whose best position is probably DH, and the reason we’ve been speculating what’s going to happen when Morse comes back (because there are already too many old guys).

    Yeah, but they are all on one year contracts and none of them is making more than 7m, all of them together are making only 16 million, and they have combined for 61HR already.

    Zdurincik isn’t going to get dinged for that. That’s why you stock up on a couple when they are on sale, because you know they all won’t stay healthy. But I would say that only 3 have their best position as DH, Bay has actually been serviceable in the OF, I have been surprised.

  6. Longgeorge1 on July 25th, 2013 9:06 pm

    Ackley ain’t going to Tacoma (To play baseball)

  7. Westside guy on July 25th, 2013 9:06 pm

    Zdurincik isn’t going to get dinged for that. That’s why you stock up on a couple when they are on sale, because you know they all won’t stay healthy.

    Four is not a couple. 😉

  8. henryv on July 25th, 2013 9:07 pm

    Could anyone tell me what a “Fillet of Fish RBI” or is Jay Buhner very high and slightly hungry now.

  9. californiamariner on July 25th, 2013 9:10 pm

    @scraps before that they won 2 out of 3 at Texas and Cincinnati. Lost 3 out of 4 to Boston (best record in the AL), but held leads of 4 runs in 2 of the losses. I’m not saying they are fixed, but they have been playing very well for about 20 games.

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

    I missed it – what did Zunino do to his hand/wrist?

  11. Kazinski on July 25th, 2013 9:11 pm

    Seager is having a tough night, did he hurt his glove hand on that play at 2nd?

  12. californiamariner on July 25th, 2013 9:13 pm

    @Westside, they said he took a foul ball off the hand and it was precautionary.

  13. Longgeorge1 on July 25th, 2013 9:16 pm

    Sucre was pulled as a precaution

  14. henryv on July 25th, 2013 9:17 pm

    That shouldn’t be a wild pitch. That hit Blanco in the glove.

  15. henryv on July 25th, 2013 9:18 pm

    I love that Iwakuma is annoyed that he walked a guy with an 8-0 lead.

  16. californiamariner on July 25th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Very true you know how these injuries can end up!

  17. Westside guy on July 25th, 2013 9:23 pm

    Eric Wedge was also taken to the hospital “as a precaution”, as I recall.

    Crap – so Zunino had a stroke…

  18. henryv on July 25th, 2013 9:24 pm

    Raul really shouldn’t go out for defense after this at bat.

  19. Longgeorge1 on July 25th, 2013 9:35 pm

    Raul shouldn’t have gone out on defense in the top of the first, but what are the options ( oh well )

  20. Westside guy on July 25th, 2013 9:43 pm

    Wha… Why are they putting in a worse defender when they have an 8-0 lead?

  21. juneau_fan on July 25th, 2013 9:46 pm

    Too soon, Westie, on the stroke comment.


  22. Westside guy on July 25th, 2013 9:47 pm

    Yet they leave Raul in left!?

  23. Westside guy on July 25th, 2013 9:48 pm

    Yeah, Juneau, I somewhat second-guessed myself after the fact. But given that Wedge is expected to completely recover and is already at home, I didn’t think it was TOO far out there.

  24. Ralph_Malph on July 25th, 2013 9:54 pm

    It’s 8-0. They’re giving guys some playing time. It’s not about getting the best defensive guys on the field. I would rest the 60 year old left fielder, but what do I know.

  25. juneau_fan on July 25th, 2013 10:00 pm

    But Bone thinks that Raul’ll be back again next year! But as a Mariner, he didn’t say. *shudder*

    No worries, Westie. I’ve been regretting my obsessing over the facial tic Wedge has had all season. Makes me feel pretty petty.

  26. Kazinski on July 25th, 2013 10:04 pm

    If your going to make 4 errors in a game, you might as well do when you are winning 8-0.

  27. msfanmike on July 25th, 2013 10:15 pm

    I agree with you Kaz, but Oozer (UZR) won’t.

  28. msfanmike on July 25th, 2013 10:17 pm

    3 hits in a game – within a few days of each other – for Ackley. Sweet!

  29. MrZDevotee on July 25th, 2013 10:18 pm

    Yay, the fun M’s are back…

    9-1 over the last 10 games?

    I’ll take it.

    (PS- Get well, Skip AND Zunino…)

  30. iHam on July 25th, 2013 10:19 pm

    No shutout, but we’ll take the win…

    Was it just gameday (and I’m aware how imprecise it can be), or were there a couple of Perez’s pitches to Herrmann that should have been low strikes but were called balls?

  31. dc24 on July 25th, 2013 10:36 pm

    Yes there were two strikes that Herrmann should have been rung up on!

  32. MrZDevotee on July 25th, 2013 10:38 pm

    In a parallel universe… Where M’s catchers can’t “catch” a break… Tonight for Oakland–

    “Catcher John Jaso has been placed on the 7-day concussion DL by the Athletics. Jaso, 29, suffered the concussion late in Wednesday’s game after taking a foul ball off the mask. By rule, he must be cleared by MLB before he can be activated off the DL.”

  33. casey on July 26th, 2013 9:04 am

    still trying to figure how all these outfielders are going to fit with Morse and Guti back soon – Morse likely today or tomorrow. Then read this morning that the M’s had senior scouts checking out Peavy’s start last night. Thinking they would offer something like Ackley and Paxton or Ramirez or Maurer for Peavy – Ackley would be nice fit for White Sox who also sound like they will trade Rios (Viciedo to rf and Ackley to lf) and have been forced to play Keppinger at 2b due to Beckham injuries. Just trying to guess at what might be coming.

  34. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 9:53 am

    Why would the Mariners want to trade away future talent for a good-but-not-great pitcher who’ll walk next year (after being paid $14.5 million)?

    I know people are excited about the new kids – heck, so am I – but LOOK AT THE STANDINGS PEOPLE! 1995 was exciting in large part because stuff like that almost never happens – and, even then, the Mariners only had one team to get past. There’s almost no chance they make it to the playoffs this year.

  35. seagood3 on July 26th, 2013 10:07 am

    Ackley in the last two weeks (14 games) .396/.568/.964

    It is at least encouraging

  36. MrZDevotee on July 26th, 2013 1:03 pm

    I don’t think we’d trade Ackley. Not for a rental, and not when we have no real outfielders to speak of at the moment, ‘xcept Saunders and Ackley.

    We’ll move a veteran, for cost controlled long term talent, if we do anything.

    If anything, and I don’t know why they’d want to, I could see Bay for Peavy, as a salary dump for Chicago. Or Morse for Peavy.

    But I’d find it hard to believe Ackley was going anywhere.

  37. casey on July 26th, 2013 1:18 pm

    Whitesox will want Garza type return for Peavy – which is probably two frontline prospects. They aren’t going to take Bay or Morse for their top starter.

    Peavy would be a business decision – if the M’s sit 50-54 after tonight they can put a lot of bums in the seats this August and September if they seriously enter the wildcard race – and Peavy fits in as a #3 starter on this staff. Peavy is under contract for next year and have to think rotation of King, Kuma, Peavy, and Walker is a pretty solid start to a pennant run in 14; especially with the emerging offence.

    With Morse and Guti to be activated in the next week the M’s have two moves to make. It seems clear Morse and Ibanez will play full time down the stretch (at least til they are out of it or one is injured) and then its either Ackley or Saunders or Guti in centerfield. Don’t think Ackley will stay in majors to play 2-3 games a week; guess Saunders could be your 4th outfielder like he was back in June when he wasn’t hitting.

    And I still think the M’s don’t really value Ackley that high – continue to bat him 9th, sit him vs lefties, centrefield seems like trial balloon for a guy who was passed by Franklin.

  38. MrZDevotee on July 26th, 2013 1:30 pm

    I just don’t see why Chicago would want Ackley? Especially if he’s as low on the value pole as the M’s (and I) think he is.

    They need an outfielder to get them through the season. A rental works (just like we did this offseason in acquiring them). They get out of a big contract in the process. Money money money after the season. Win-win for the White Sox.

    But trading him for Ackley? Can you imagine the Sox fans reaction to trading Peavey for a demoted 2B, who’s been moved to the OF, but really should probably be back in AAA? Why would they do that?

    I can’t see that happening.

  39. GhostofMarinersPast on July 26th, 2013 2:47 pm

    Bah! Zunino to the DL with a broken hamate bone. Out at least 6 weeks…..goddamn. Is sucre back yet?! Please not montero please not montero

  40. scraps on July 26th, 2013 4:33 pm

    if they seriously enter the wildcard race

    Seattle Mariners’ chance of making the playoffs (

    = 1.8 % =

    (that’s one point eight, not eighteen)

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