Game 136, Mariners at Astros

marc w · September 1, 2013 at 10:23 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Brett Oberholtzer, 11:10am

I mock the Saunders vs. Keuchel match-up, and it turns into a pretty decent pitcher’s duel. Huh.

Brett Oberholtzer is a lefty the Astros picked up from the Braves org a few years ago in the Michael Bourn trade. He throws a four- and two-seam fastball (92-91, respectively), a curve and a good change-up. The curve is intriguing, in that he’s told Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris that it’s actually two pitches: a true curve and a slurvy slider. Looking at his pitch fx charts, it’s pretty tough to spot. It’s not that I distrust Oberholtzer, it’s just that the distinction is really, really subtle. Most pitchers have some variation with their breaking balls, and I wouldn’t have pegged Oberholtzer’s as being the result of a consciously different approach/grip. But it’s a smart way to change things up; he throws a fair number of curves to lefty bats, and if they’ve seen it several times, it’s a good idea to add a wrinkle to it the 3rd/4th time through the line-up.

That said, his change-up has been his best pitch thus far in his brief MLB career. It generates twice as many whiffs as the curve, and he’s got decent command of it. The curve hasn’t gotten swinging strikes, but batters are hitting it into the ground, at least thus far. He’s had HR issues a bit with his fastballs, and neither the four-seamer or his sinker has a lot of sink, so batters have elevated them – and in Houston, that can lead to home runs. Oberholtzer had HR issues a bit in the minors, so this isn’t a small-sample fluke. He gets a lot of horizontal and vertical movement on his pitches, which should make his sinker effective against lefties, but like so many pitchers, he throws it mostly to righties, while throwing the four-seamer to lefties.

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

“Oberholtzer” is in the running for most Germanic name in MLB. He’s got that going for himself.

In something of a surprise, Danny Hultzen’s returning from the DL to make a start in Tacoma today; we’ll see if he’s able to move up to Seattle when roster’s expand (so far, Tom Wilhelmsen’s the only confirmed call-up). Gametime is 1:35 at Cheney. Hultzen’s only throwing an inning or two, so it’s not like he’s ready to start in Seattle in September, but it’s encouraging to see him nonetheless. Trevor Miller, Charles Kaalekahi (making his high-A debut) and Eddie Campbell are also pitching today.


44 Responses to “Game 136, Mariners at Astros”

  1. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 10:30 am

    A good outfield… Wow.

    As a side note – To the surprise of no one here, Jim Bowden reports Zduriencik has said he expects Wedge back in 2014 and “is a big fan” of his.

  2. henryv on September 1st, 2013 10:49 am

    I would call that a serviceable outfield. Maybe even average!

    It just feels good compared to the utter crap that we have been dealing with all season.

    But, it is probably and hopefully only 1/3 of the outfield we will have next year, seeing as how this team is in desperate need of some non-constantly injured, really good OFs to make this a competitive roster.

  3. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 10:58 am

    I still wonder if Ackley will end up back at second base. Franklin will have several months to turn it around, obviously; but much of the time right now he just looks overmatched.

    As a corner outfielder, Saunders is above average defensively. What role he’ll have going forward will depend on whether the guy we’re seeing now (and saw at the start of the season) is the “real” Condor or not. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Z trade him, though, and for Saunders to turn out to be the next guy poeple say “why do they always get better when they leave” about. But he’s not Z’s guy and probably will be gone at some point.

    Guti, I absolutely love – but they should just cut him loose after the season and wish him the best.

  4. CAMariner on September 1st, 2013 11:02 am

    Over at MLB they said Erasmo and Zunino are part of the September call-ups group. They spoke to soon! I guess, they are just anticipating that. Anyways, here’s hoping for a four game sweep!

  5. californiamariner on September 1st, 2013 11:05 am

    So Z expects to bring Wedge back 😐

    But good to hear Zunino is expected to catch Felix tomorrow.

  6. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 11:21 am

    Zunino will look like an all-star after having Blanco inflicted on us.

    Maybe that was the plan all along? 😉

  7. henryv on September 1st, 2013 11:33 am

    I would offer Guti a 2 year deal worth something like 8 million.

    Basically, no money, but considering that his problem isn’t sucking. It’s getting hurt. So the only problem you’ll have is with the 40 man roster, and that’s when he’s NOT on the 60 day DL.

    I mean, Guti can earn a win above about every 30 games he plays, and he gets in about 90 games a season. So, at 4 million a year, he’s a good value.

  8. Eastside Suds on September 1st, 2013 11:40 am

    Are the M’s going to finish the season with 3 catchers? Or will they DFA one of the old guys? Not that it matters much I suppose, but does take one more spot away from a guy they could bring up for a cup-o’-joe in September.

  9. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 11:43 am

    Maybe we’ll learn if Sucre is still alive. 😉

  10. stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2013 11:44 am

    I’ve had the same thoughts about Ackley making a return to 2B, but I wonder about Romero shifting back as well (eventually). Would be good if Franklin could start hitting again, make things a little more clear, eh?!

    Guti’s played 22 games this year and is worth 0.2 WAR. Really hard to see a future with him playing 90 games in a single season. Signing him to a 2 year, 8 million dollar contract would seem like a significant risk.

  11. stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2013 11:48 am

    If Jack keeps his job, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more of Wedge. But right now I still hold hope that neither will return.

    And yes, I’m aware of the extension reports. Doesn’t mean he can’t be fired.

  12. henryv on September 1st, 2013 11:53 am

    The nice thing about the Franklin-Miller-Ackley thing is that you have 3 middle infielders, and so you have a back-up for your two middle infielders.

    The problem is that none of them are great at defense, and none of them are right-handed, and only one is a switch hitter.

    But the M’s best shot at 2 good OF free agents are left handed.

    So, in the end, the M’s have a left-handed problem that is probably only solved with a trade, I suppose.

  13. stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2013 11:59 am

    ^I’d argue Ackley’s 2B defense is good. Maybe not great, but not alarming.

    It does seem that they’ll need to acquire a right handed hitting outfielder at some point. This is where we can spark the Stanton speculation again:P

  14. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 12:02 pm

    If Zduriencik and Wedge are both coming back, I fully expect the outfield issue will be “solved” by signing Raul to a two-year extension.

  15. LongDistance on September 1st, 2013 12:07 pm

    At the risk of sounding arrogantly or pretentiously far-sighted, there is zero reason not to expect Jack or Wedgie back next year. Mainly, I think it’s because of the now institutionalized “experimental” nature of Jack Z’s approach, which makes it forever seem as though this is all an ever burgeoning work-in-progress, which hasn’t yet worked its way all the way through to the end. And Wedge is part of the WIP.

    Me, if I was a totally cynical (heaven forbid) managerial type, I’d have to say that creating a perpetual WIP aura, would be sheer genius. Who the hell would dare pretend to know when the hell to cut short the ride on the infinite mobius loop?

    uh… Can anyone tell I’m already over to next year?

  16. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 12:10 pm

    Cynicism? From a USS Mariner poster?

    That would shock me – no way we’d ever see that. Cynicism is almost as rare as sarcasm ’round these parts.

  17. msfanmike on September 1st, 2013 12:11 pm

    It’s September and we are watching Henry Blanco play baseball. The ONLY reason can be because the Rainiers season has not ended, right? What other reason would there be?

    Sucre has been playing down in Tacoma for the past 2-3 weeks. Zunino is coming up tomorrow I guess.

    We appreciate the effort Henry, but we need the 40 man spot for a young guy that is getting called up.

    I would like to see Paxton, Carson Smith, Zunino, Sucre and maybe Romero plus another bullpen arm.

    I would also like to see an OF with Almonte, Saunders and Guti .. With Ackley getting some time at 2B. Franklin is lost. He came up and showed an ability to “read” and “react” but he lost it somewhere along the way. Continuing to jam him in the #2 spot in the lineup doesn’t appear to be working. Give him a few days off to regroup.

  18. henryv on September 1st, 2013 12:30 pm

    If Zduriencik and Wedge are both coming back, I fully expect the outfield issue will be “solved” by signing Raul to a two-year extension.

    That’s not funny.

  19. msfanmike on September 1st, 2013 12:34 pm

    We are riding an infamous mobius loop. That is pure poetry, man.

    And the ride is giving me a case of the red ass.

  20. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 12:35 pm

    Unfortunately I wasn’t trying to be funny – I was making an honest to goodness prediction.

  21. msfanmike on September 1st, 2013 12:36 pm

    Catwalks, ridiculous short porch in LF and the Acid trip that became CF … Who deigned this place?

  22. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 12:37 pm

    “Möbius Red Ass” is an affliction being diagnosed with increasing frequency in the Pacific Northwest.

  23. Eastside Suds on September 1st, 2013 12:39 pm

    Franklin is just navigating through the expected adjustment period of a rookie. Seager went through it and came out on top. Smoak looks like he has overcome this stretch and Ackley has shown us he can do it as well. Miller and Zenino will both struggle at times as they mature into MLB productive players. We have to remember that Franklin was fresh out of AA when this season began. On a “normal” MLB successful roster he wouldn’t even be with us. He will be okay as he goes through this maturation phase.

  24. msfanmike on September 1st, 2013 12:44 pm

    I think Franklin will eventually be okay, too. He has shown an ability to make adjustments at each level. It just ain’t happening now with two or three back to back to back eloooongated periods of struggle. Thats a really bad sign. A few days off might work, since the AAA option is no longer available this year.

  25. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 12:46 pm

    Yeah I don’t think anyone is writing Franklin off – I certainly wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean he won’t need to spend some time in AAA next season, if he continues to struggle – that’s not uncommon at all.

    But as Mike pointed out, AAA isn’t an option this year. And almost everyone hits the crap out of the ball in spring training, so it’s pretty certain he’ll be the opening day starting second baseman, in any case.

  26. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 12:53 pm

    And, right on cue, he gets a hit!

  27. Eastside Suds on September 1st, 2013 1:00 pm

    Well done Kuma!! What a stud he’s been for us.

  28. Eastside Suds on September 1st, 2013 1:07 pm

    Morse, Montero, Bay, Shoppach, Andino, Harang, Bonderman? Was that all just a bad dream or did this really happen?

  29. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:08 pm

    Shoppach just got picked up by Cleveland, IIRC.

  30. Eastside Suds on September 1st, 2013 1:10 pm

    Good for Kelly!

  31. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:19 pm

    Man, another pitchers duel!

  32. Eastside Suds on September 1st, 2013 1:23 pm

    Unfortunately, the M’s have a way of making a lot of mediocre pitchers look like Cy Young candidates.

  33. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:29 pm

    Man, Charlie…

  34. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:32 pm

    Oooh… they didn’t pull it off but I LOVE that play!

  35. G-Man on September 1st, 2013 1:32 pm

    I thought a squeeze was possible there, both times.

  36. G-Man on September 1st, 2013 1:33 pm

    ..and they don’t even get the out at first.

  37. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:33 pm

    Haha, they did it again! Suicide squeeze!

    I realize it’s the opposition but it’s fun baseball. Plus it’s nice to affirm that not every manager is as predictably stupid as Eric Wedge.

  38. msfanmike on September 1st, 2013 1:36 pm

    Was the entire IF charging on that play? And if yes, why? I had to go radio Tokyo a couple innings ago while mowing the lawn and did not see the play.

  39. stevemotivateir on September 1st, 2013 1:36 pm

    Why did they keep Furbush in to face so many RHB’s?

  40. Bremerton guy on September 1st, 2013 1:37 pm


    Bonderman is pitching long relief for the Tigers.

  41. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:37 pm

    Yup, looked like all four guys charged, Mike.

    Franklin had a brain fart.

  42. Westside guy on September 1st, 2013 1:55 pm

    Oh well…

  43. scraps on September 1st, 2013 2:41 pm


  44. NorahW on September 1st, 2013 5:53 pm

    Bonderman was sent to Toledo a couple days ago so they could bring up Phil Coke to be eligible for the postseason. Bondo will pitch in September, no doubt, but won’t be eligible for the preseason.

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