Game 107, Mariners at Red Sox

marc w · July 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. John Lackey, 4:10pm

Some times, the games follow these preview scripts eerily well, and other times, such as yesterday’s, they really don’t. Brandon Workman annihilated a better line-up than he faced a few weeks ago. Today, the M’s look to erase the memory of yesterday’s ugly eyesore behind Hisashi Iwakuma. John Lackey gets the start for Boston, and the veteran is having one of his better seasons in years. The clear pattern we’ve seen in these past couple of series against the Red Sox holds true for Lackey: he doesn’t materially change his pitch mix against lefties/righties. When he was with the Angels, he had a slider that he used against righties while sticking to a curve ball and change-up against lefties. That’s a text-book, standard, pitching-101 mix, but he started throwing more sliders to lefties when he got to Boston. This year, he’s throwing even more sliders, with his change-up now a rarity. This shift in approach looked disastrous, as he was replacement level in 2010-11 (by bWAR) and then rehabbed from Tommy John surgery in 2012. This year, however, he’s walking fewer and striking out more than he has in several years. Did the slider-heavy approach cause or exacerbate his elbow injury? I have no idea, and it’s pretty pointless to speculate, but he’s striking out more righties than he even has while limiting lefties to a 3.31 FIP.

Of course, there’s plenty of luck here. His BABIP against lefties is very low, and they’re not hitting as many HRs as they have in the past. But some of everything is luck, and we can’t just chalk everything up to random variation. He’s always been effective against lefties, and lefties have always hit fewer HRs against him. In that sense, it’s kind of amazing that he’s still the same John Lackey despite the TJ surgery and throwing completely different pitches. Against righties, his fastball’s been the key to his 2013 success – he’s getting more whiffs on his four-seam than ever. He’s always had plenty of vertical movement on it, but he’s now throwing it with essentially zero horizontal movement, perhaps making it function more like a cutter. It’s a very different pitch, but Felix’s four-seamer gradually shed horizontal movement along with velocity and stayed effective (though it’s a bit more traditional this year). He’s also throwing it a bit differently, eschewing the standard “low and away” approach and keeping it elevated. Throwing the ball up can generate more whiffs, but the trade-off is generally HRs. And Lackey’s definitely been HR-prone, but with his great K:BB ratio, it hasn’t hurt him too bad.

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

It’s perhaps inevitable that since Brandon Workman made my preview look silly, the M’s may attempt to make my assessment of the trade market look silly too. There are all sorts of rumors that several teams have an interest in Mike Morse, though you’d have to imagine the returns wouldn’t exactly be franchise-altering. Since April 8th, Morse has played in 50 games and hit .236/.300/.385 with 6 homers. Teams will not be acquiring him for his defense. In recent games he’s been destroyed by Workman and Robbie Erlin, so teams that put a lot of value in the most recent sample (or the ‘eye-test’) may be…concerned. Who knows, though. He’s got pop, and all of the selective end-pointing in the world doesn’t change that. If someone wanted to trade a top prospect for him, that’d be peachy.

Tai Walker’s now in his first real funk of 2013, after giving up 9 hits and 4 runs in 6 IP against Omaha last night. In his last two starts, both at relatively pitcher-friendly Cheney Stadium, he’s thrown 11 innings, giving up 15 hits, 5 walks and 9 runs. Of course, he’s thrown more than 100 IP this season, and his slide in 2012 began much sooner. It’s possible that this is nothing, just two off games in a hitter’s league, and it’s possible that his poor pitching in July/August in 2012-13 are related to fatigue.

Blake Beavan starts for Tacoma, Anthony Vasquez for Jackson and Jordan Pries for High Desert. The biggest prospect on the hill tonight is lefty Tyler Pike, who gets the ball for Clinton.


109 Responses to “Game 107, Mariners at Red Sox”

  1. Westside guy on July 31st, 2013 9:16 pm

    Juneau, I thought you were talking about Wilhelmsen – but I think I need a bartender right now.

  2. Longgeorge1 on July 31st, 2013 9:16 pm

    It’s already tomorrow in Beantown

  3. JasonJ on July 31st, 2013 9:18 pm

    So Mariners…

  4. juneau_fan on July 31st, 2013 9:58 pm

    I don’t usually do that whole ‘they look like losers’ but all you had to do was look at the faces and body language on the two teams to see who expected to win.

  5. Eastside Suds on July 31st, 2013 10:11 pm

    That is the difference between experienced, mature teams and mostly young AAA call-ups/”rookies”. We will get there, but the “process” is painful to watch at times.
    A wise coach once told me, “The only feeling better than winning, is knowing you will”. Mature, successful teams have that. We don’t. Yet…..

  6. eponymous coward on July 31st, 2013 10:24 pm

    And we now see why this is going to be a bumpy road.

    While the Mariners could lose those key veterans without any return, Zduriencik says there is a benefit to keep them for the final two months.

    "When you let a guy leave, it's harder to get a guy back," he said. "Once you break your marriage up and you want to go back and ask that player to come back, it's much harder to do. He probably feels somewhat betrayed. Now you have to start all over again.

    "Having these guys here — certainly they have the right to walk — but we also have the first right to re-sign them if we choose," he said. "And I think that's important to a player, especially if they like Seattle. If they are saying, 'I'd like to be part of this thing going forward. I like what's going on. It would be great.' Who knows, we may have the inside track on some of these players back here. That was a little bit of the thinking as well."

    In that vein, Zduriencik said he's had communication already with some of the pending free agents.

    "I think some of the players understand how we feel about them," he said. "I've had indirect conversations with them. Some I've had direct, quite frankly. But I do think as we move forward from now til the end of the year, that will accelerate as we get closer to the end."

    Can’t wait to see an OF with Morse and Ibañez in it on Opening Day 2014…

  7. Westside guy on July 31st, 2013 11:05 pm

    Well, I can always hope he’s only talking about two guys, and one of them is Kendrys Morales… 🙂

    Not that I want to see either Raul or Morse back – but having one of them wouldn’t be nearly the problem that having two of them is. And if I want to be charitable, maybe Z is smarter than I usually give him credit for, and maybe he sees that he made a mistake bringing so many 1B/DH types in…

    And maybe the Mariners will give me a free puppy…

  8. eponymous coward on August 1st, 2013 10:53 am

    If Morales gave us a decent price, OK. His agent’s Boras, though (read: probably wants to let him go to the market and watch what happens during the bidding).

    A bidding war for a 30 year old 2-4 WAR DH with some injury history and old player’s skills doesn’t strike me as a war the M’s should want to win (it would likely backfire ala Richie Sexson unless it’s a short term kind of deal, and this is Morales’s first FA contract, so I suspect he wants a payday). The guys who the M’s are more likely to get back at a price acceptable to them (because they aren’t very valuable players, and the M’s probably think they are more valuable than the market) are Ibañez and Morse.

  9. Westside guy on August 1st, 2013 11:45 am

    If the price weren’t too high, I wouldn’t mind Morse in Morales role.

    Frankly my issue with Morse and Ibañez has more to do with how they’re used, not with them personally. But we can’t really separate the two (meaning whether they’re on the roster vs. whether they’re playing the outfield regularly) since Wedge obviously doesn’t value defense in the corners – if they both come back, he’ll keep running them out in the field.

    I’ve heard people argue that Wedge was “forced” to use Ibañez in that role – but even during the first dozen games of the season, Raul was in left field for half of them. Nobody was injured then…

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