Game 141, Rays at Mariners

marc w · September 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Alex Cobb, 7:10pm

I’ve been hoping we’d see these two starters face off against each other for a while now. In early August, I noted that Iwakuma’s splitter had induced the third-highest swing rate in MLB (for active pitchers). #2 on that list was Alex Cobb’s splitter. Cobb and Iwakuma are very similar hurlers, and both have turned into rotation mainstays despite coming to their teams without a ton of hype. They both throw four- and two-seamers and a curve (Iwakuma also has a slider, of course), but their bread and butter pitch – their weapon – is the splitter. In 2013, batters are *slugging* .296 against Cobb’s split, while they’re slugging .241 against Iwakuma’s version. For those of you who prefer tables, here you go:

Pitcher Number Velo O-Sw. % Sw% Contact% Zone% HRs
Iwakuma 551 85.1 51.4% 59.4% 71.9% 26.1% 3
Cobb 542 85.6 54.1% 65.5% 71.3% 37.3% 3

(Data for this is mostly from Fangraphs; the HRs are from BrooksBaseball. I’m mixing sources in this article quite a lot, and that’s frowned upon, but different sites present slightly different info in different ways. Fangraphs calls Cobb’s pitch a change, by the way.)

Iwakuma’s splitter gets fewer swings, but then only about 1/4 are in the zone! Cobb throws a comparatively generous 37% in the pitch fx strike zone, and gets nearly double that in swings. Look at the out-of-zone swing percentage for both players. Add it up, and their slugging percentage-allowed on these pitches is easy to understand: they throw these pitches at batters shoelaces, and batters swing anyway. A lot of the time, they swing and miss, but if they make contact, they’re virtually guaranteed to hit it into the ground.

So wait, why does Alex Cobb post average HR/9 rates while Iwakuma’s been homer-prone? The difference isn’t on splitters, as we’ve seen. It’s not even about how they use their fastballs, as I suspected initially (here‘s Cobb’s FA/sinker chart, and here‘s Kuma’s). Cobb’s superior velocity may help, though neither of them are above average. Part of it probably comes down to usage – Cobb doesn’t throw that many fastballs, throwing offspeed/breaking pitches about 56% of the time. Kuma’s a bit more traditional, throwing 55% FBs and 45% everything-elses.

Both Cobb and Iwakuma have sub-3.00 ERAs this year, and while Kuma’s FIP’s a touch better, Cobb’s got the edge in xFIP; they’re essentially equals. So where’d Cobb come from? Why didn’t we hear more about him, given that several Rays prospects have had a lot of hype – from Wade Davis to David Price to Matt Moore. Jeff touched on this in his article on Cobb earlier this year, but to be fair to prospect ranking folks, he got better at each level. There’s nothing wrong with a 20 year old posting a K/9 a bit over 6 and an RA in the 3.5-4 range, but you don’t top-10 anyone for that. It obviously took Cobb a while to refine his approach, but by the time he reached AA in 2010, he was clearly a much different pitcher. Even then, he couldn’t crack the top 10 (though as John Sickels notes, that may have more to do with the other guys on the list than it did with Cobb). I have no idea if he had a similar pitch mix in the Southern League as he does now, but I can imagine scouts docking him a grade or two for it if he did. Seeing a guy come out throwing 50-60% slow stuff just doesn’t look normal – it looks gimmicky, and scouts are really good at weeding out gimmicky players – even guys who put up insane numbers in the minors. Again, I have no idea if that’s what happened, or if scouts loved him but loved Alex Colume just a tad bit more. But he’s had a great season, and if he didn’t miss a few months after being struck in the head by a line drive, we’d probably be hearing a lot more about him.

Looking forward to this battle of freakishly similar starters.

Line-up:
1: Miller, SS
2: Gutierrez, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Ackley, CF
9: Franklin, 2B
SP: Hisashi Iwakuma. Accept no imitations.

Cheers to the Pulaski Mariners who took home the Appalachian League title last night after a walk-off hit from Gabrial Franca. The fightin’ Pulaskis came back from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5, so full credit to the bullpen (Gabe Saquilon did the heavy lift, going 5 1/3) after a shaky start by Edwin Diaz. Speaking of shaky starts by very good pitchers, Dylan Unsworth had an uncharacteristic clunker of a start for Clinton, who were knocked out of the Midwest League playoffs by Beloit. Unsworth had walked TWO batters the entire year, but walked three yesterday in just 4 innings. Congratulations, though, on a great season by Clinton.

Comments

109 Responses to “Game 141, Rays at Mariners”

  1. CAMariner on September 6th, 2013 5:44 pm

    Wow. Two batters the entire year, that is incredibly unbelievable. It’d be nice to see the Mariners win tonight’s game after yesterday’s painful defeat. I see Saunders is sitting again. I guess after Raul’s homer yesterday, Wedge must think he is rejuvenated.

  2. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 6:12 pm

    Wedge says he has to respect what Raul did earlier in the season. So basically he’s saying that takes precedence over any other thinking.

    I think it’s a good example of why Wedge has, over his career, been in charge of teams that have underperformed. I’ll see if I can find that old link rating managers according to expected versus actual team performance.

  3. mrakbaseball on September 6th, 2013 6:26 pm

    Mariners are en route for another 90 loss season, Michael Saunders probably isn’t in their future plans anyway so let Raul swing away for #300. It’s no use questioning what Wedge does anymore.

  4. Slippery Elmer on September 6th, 2013 6:57 pm

    Cobb? M’s are gonna toss his salad tonight.

    In a good way, that is — the way that means they’ll defeat his team.

  5. Paul B on September 6th, 2013 7:12 pm

    Michael Saunders probably isn’t in their future plans anyway

    I really hope you are wrong.

    Saunders is under team control for 3 more years, his OPS+ was 108 last year, and 101 this year.

    Wedge is an idiot though.

  6. don52656 on September 6th, 2013 7:19 pm

    So Saunders and Almonte get to gain more “experience” from the bench. No wonder Mariners have such a poor record of developing young players, the way they get jerked around. Iwakuma better keep Tampa from pulling the ball tonight.

  7. Longgeorge1 on September 6th, 2013 7:38 pm

    Maybe if Rauuul gets his 300 we won’t feel as obligated to let him reach that goal next year. Personally the fact that we are giving T-Walker, Paxton,and Hultzen looks is encouraging and the results could influence our FA targets, If any of those three plus Rameriez could help fill out the back end of the rotation maybe we could afford a better position player. I am not willing to close the door on too many of these guys. We have two catchers, two DH’s, half the pen and J.Saunders that could be shown the door though. I can’t think of a really good DH that is available and affordable and not a health risk, why try. I am sure someone can think of one, but I think this teams needs the flexibility of guys that can play multiple positions because there will be disappointments. We got F***** by a roster of DH’s this year, I don’t want to watch that again.

  8. Paul B on September 6th, 2013 7:42 pm

    We know what is going to happen with Raul. We saw it with Jr.

  9. Longgeorge1 on September 6th, 2013 7:43 pm

    ALAS

  10. CAMariner on September 6th, 2013 7:52 pm

    I agree, Don. They need to let Saunders and Almonte play. I like when Almonte plays because he brings speed to the team. Something that has been lacking all year.

  11. Paul B on September 6th, 2013 8:14 pm

    If a couple of the other guys (Miller, Franklin, Zunino) turn into Seager, this team will be in good shape.

  12. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 8:23 pm

    Morales needs to borrow some of Ackley’s pine tar.

  13. Paul B on September 6th, 2013 8:23 pm

    That was scary, Westside.

  14. pgreyy on September 6th, 2013 8:29 pm

    I SPELL DINGERS WITH EIGHT U’S!!!

  15. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 8:30 pm

    Seriously – hope that kid was okay.

  16. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 8:56 pm

    I hope Miller is okay!

  17. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 9:09 pm

    Good managing there, Wedgie.

    So glad Jack Z’s a big fan.

  18. gopilots70 on September 6th, 2013 9:15 pm

    Once again. The definition of insanity. Give the tying run a free pass. IBB have killed us this year and Maury Wills has not learned.

    I guess veteranship and playoff experience does not matter when it is the opposing team. Walk the rookie and let the veteran hit. At least Maury is not bogged down by consistency.

    Are we really going to be stuck with Maury Wills as our manager for another season?

    Do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

  19. pgreyy on September 6th, 2013 10:14 pm

    Frying Pan: Sticking with Capps.
    Fire: Switching to Noesi.

    Wedge: Ehhh.

  20. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 10:29 pm

    Saunders had to swing at a ball because the previous ball got called strike two.

    Bring on the robots.

  21. Westside guy on September 6th, 2013 10:30 pm

    Yeah!! Smoak!!

  22. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:25 pm

    Game 142…

  23. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:27 pm

    Tonight’s lineup:

    James Paxton makes his debut!

    Miller SS
    Almonte CF
    Seager 3B
    Morales DH
    Ibanez “LF”
    Smoak 1B
    Saunders RF
    Zunino C
    Franklin 2B

  24. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:29 pm

    And Kendrys’ Big Middle Of The Order Bat drives Miller in from third!

  25. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 6:31 pm

    I’m here too, Westy!

    I do give a chuckle every time Morales does something right since that post.

  26. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:36 pm

    The place was echoing Juneau!

  27. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 6:40 pm

    Marineros is rather pathetic, if you ask me, for a tribute to Latin America. What’s the point? Couldn’t they have gone with Pescadores to at least give it some spice?

  28. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:44 pm

    Que aburrido!

  29. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:45 pm

    Smoak esta el jefe!

    Hehehe

  30. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 6:47 pm

    Thank you, Westy, that’s more like it.

    Er, Zunino’s plate music is “Getting to Know You”?

  31. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 6:48 pm

    Shouldn’t they be using Latin American music?

  32. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 6:50 pm

    I thought I heard musica viva earlier, but that may have been for Morales. Seager was some shit-kickin’ country for sure.

  33. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:03 pm

    That was a weak throw – but good for Almonte!

  34. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:07 pm

    And blah for Almonte…

    And double-blah for running into an out right before a HR!

    (Hee at it being Morales)

  35. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:07 pm

    Hahaha Kendrys!

    Must’ve been reading the web recently…

  36. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:09 pm

    Why on earth was that fan holding his phone up where the ball was going? That’s an expensive mistake…

    Sims said it was an iPad Mini but it looked more like a large Samsung phone.

  37. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:21 pm

    I like Archer for his old school look. Very 1950′s.

    Still want him to lose though.

  38. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:31 pm

    Is Paxton on a low pitch count?

  39. djw on September 7th, 2013 7:32 pm

    I haven’t been blown away by Paxton’s stuff tonight (a couple of impressive curves, though), but it’s hard to believe this is the guy who was having control issues in AAA. Location has been absolutely pinpoint and consistent all night.

  40. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:38 pm

    eep!

    Oh, hi,djw.

    Like having someone walk in when I’m talking to myself in my office.

  41. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:40 pm

    Sweet!

  42. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:40 pm

    Bunt, bunt, bunt!

  43. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:41 pm

    Wedge said Paxton wasn’t on an innings limit (unlike Walker), but I imagine they’ll be careful with his pitch count.

  44. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:52 pm

    Welcome to the bigs, kid.

  45. djw on September 7th, 2013 7:52 pm

    Nuts. Oh well, no shame in a HR to Longoria.

  46. djw on September 7th, 2013 7:55 pm

    Don’t kick your teammates in the head, kids.

  47. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:55 pm

    More Bad News Bears fielding Hope Nick’s okay.

  48. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:55 pm

    Damn, these kids and their Bad News Bears fielding out there.

  49. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 7:56 pm

    Hahaha!

  50. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:57 pm

    Yes, Westy, great minds think alike.

    UH, he’s going to stay in there? Which one of the three balls coming at him is he going to field?

  51. djw on September 7th, 2013 7:58 pm

    OK, it is complete bullsh*t they’re letting him stay in. They can’t be sure he doesn’t have a concussion. The risk isn’t remotely worth the reward. This really, really pisses me off.

  52. djw on September 7th, 2013 7:58 pm

    Seriously, this is about as angry as I’ve been at this team’s management all year.

  53. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 7:59 pm

    Hmmmm…Franklin no longer has the mass of chaw in his cheek. Did Smoak’s knee to the back of the head knock it right out?

  54. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 8:00 pm

    This is trademark Eric Wedge.

    And Sims goes on about the last time Franklin toughed it out… Sure he got atta boys, Sims. He also hurt the team playing hurt, and ended up going on the DL. It is NOT a good thing.

  55. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:01 pm

    Well, djw, we have a manager who had a stroke a few weeks ago in the dugout. Any sane man would have taken the rest of the season off. It’s not as though they’re going for the playoffs and need his great tactical mind.

  56. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:09 pm

    Bartender ready to serve up the win to the Rays…

  57. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:15 pm

    Running into two outs at third tonight. *sigh*

  58. mrakbaseball on September 7th, 2013 8:17 pm

    I guess Franklin’s fine.

  59. Longgeorge1 on September 7th, 2013 8:17 pm

    Kick him in the head again!

  60. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:18 pm

    I hope you see how wrong-headed your thinking was, djw. That one run was completely worth whatever brain injury that Franklin may have.

  61. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:19 pm

    So wrong, Longgeorge1, and yet I snorted like a hog.

  62. djw on September 7th, 2013 8:21 pm

    I guess Franklin’s fine.

    It’s entirely possible to have a mild concussion and hit a double.

  63. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:26 pm

    Ugh, ugh, ugh, Wilhelmsen.

  64. djw on September 7th, 2013 8:29 pm

    IT’S SPELLED ARGENTINA YOU IDIOTS

    Latin night fallar.

  65. djw on September 7th, 2013 8:32 pm

    Heck of a throw from Saunders there.

  66. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:34 pm

    That was horribly painful after six coasty innings by Paxton.

  67. mrakbaseball on September 7th, 2013 8:41 pm

    It was either last year or the year before that, that Franklin missed about 2 months with a concussion. Wedge is just teaching the young guy to be a man.

  68. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 8:42 pm

    A stupid man, maybe. :-D

  69. juneau_fan on September 7th, 2013 8:42 pm

    Just noticed that Morales has the gloves back after those 2 bats into the crowd.

  70. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 9:05 pm

    Just a few minutes ago, the booth guys were laughing about how Maddon shifts his fielders around on every play. I’m sure Wedge finds it silly too.

    Maddon and the Rays actually analyze where people tend to hit balls and try to figure out the optimal way to distribute their fielders. Meanwhile, Wedge plays guys based on their success against the day’s starting pitcher.

  71. Westside guy on September 7th, 2013 9:15 pm

    Woo hoo!

  72. Longgeorge1 on September 7th, 2013 9:18 pm

    Was just looking at the Mayo Clinic site and absent ANY symptoms in an adult the M’s are not endangering Franklin. I am sure Rick Griffin gave him a good look and asked the right questions. There are several keys to look for and the onset may be delayed, but if there is any damage symptoms will show

  73. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 1:14 pm

    … Game 143

    Erasmo Ramirez and the 9 Mariner 9 take on a team that for some reason is based in Tampa Bay

  74. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 1:16 pm

    Well, Franklin just said he felt nauseous after the hit, so that sure sounds like a concussion to me.

    Then again, I had a horse step on my head and felt nauseous, but wasn’t sure if it was because I had a concussion or if it was from realizing I’d just had a horse step on my head and had survived. Maybe getting a big Smoak knee to the head is a similar ‘life flashes before eyes’ moment.

    Of course Franklin’s out of the game today. Never have figured out the point of keeping a player in for another inning or two and then they have to sit out the next game because they don’t bounce back.

  75. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 1:19 pm

    Does Franklin feel nauseaus today, or was it a momentary feeling post contact. Either way, it looked like no fun at all.

  76. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 1:24 pm

    It sounds like from Sims’ recounting that he felt nauseous after the hit, which should have gotten him pulled.

  77. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 1:35 pm

    Another Morales “FU Internets” moment.

  78. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 1:40 pm

    Yeah – Kendrys is pretty good, but not $14M good. I hope they can work out a fair deal for him, though. He is going to end up at or near his career numbers while playing half time at Safeco, so that isn’t going to hurt his case for a nice payday. Whatever it turns out to be, I just hope its fair for both sides.

  79. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 1:46 pm

    Time for one of the Blanco’s homeruns! (probably not)

  80. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 2:01 pm

    Has AA done anything but bunt?

  81. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 2:33 pm

    Erasmo has looked great. I wonder if the team might consider using Cerberus to cover 2 spots in the rotation next year – whereby each guy gets 22ish starts instead of 32 starts x 2 guys.

  82. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 3:09 pm

    I’ll be happy to see these pieces of old driftwood allowed to float away on the outgoing tide at the end of the year and bring in the young pitching.

  83. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 3:12 pm

    So Fuck is Fuck en espanol?

  84. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 3:22 pm

    Fuck may be fuck in English if Charlie doesn’t get out of this.

  85. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 3:24 pm

    Good job Charlie!

    I sure breathe a lot easier when fly balls are hit to RF and Guti is out there instead of Morse.

  86. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 3:40 pm

    Yes, the outfield is 60% less terrifying these days. There’s that moment of fear and then you see it’s not Morse waiting under the ball.

  87. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 3:51 pm

    Almonte butchered that roller. He had a chance to throw the guy out at the plate if he fielded it cleanly. Rushed it.

  88. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 3:57 pm

    Blah. They have got to be able to win 1-0 games.

  89. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 3:57 pm

    Wait wait wait wait wait…

    I just came in. How is it that NO ONE has asked Juneau how a freaking HORSE managed to step on his freaking HEAD??

  90. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 3:58 pm

    I’m not a huge fan of Almonte’s fielding, by the way.

  91. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 3:59 pm

    I had always just assumed that a horse had stepped on Juneau’s head, so there was no compelling reason for a follow-up question.

  92. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 4:05 pm

    Oh, so his statement was just confirmation then! :-)

  93. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 4:18 pm

    I’d broken one of the basic rules of horsemanship; never be below the horse’s belly in a prone position, that is, fall off. A good horse will try to avoid stepping on you, but since this was the first time he’d had a human on his back, I cut him some slack. No harm, no foul, other than my ear was blue for hours.

    And in the interest of full disclosure and since no one’s really here, I feel that I should confess I’m one of the stealth chicks on the blog. That transformation has nothing to do with the horse hoof to the head, however.

  94. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 4:20 pm

    Nice arm!

  95. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 4:22 pm

    This inning is such slow torture, like watching Raul run for a ball.

  96. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 4:23 pm

    Noesi doing his usual great job of proving velo isn’t relevant. At least not relevant when it comes to him.

    At the start of today’s games, the mariners and phillies were tied for getting 10th pick in next years draft. How would MLB decide which team would get the protected pick if two teams end up tied? Anyone know the answer?

  97. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 4:25 pm

    Raul already had an at-bat last inning – why didn’t Wedge put Endy out there? It probably wouldn’t have mattered, but seeing that weak throw in made me nauseous.

    And Juneau, I take offense at being considered “no one”.

  98. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 4:30 pm

    Relative ‘no one’, Westy. You are of course, a very special snowflake.

    At least the SF/Packers game is remaining exciting. (Confession #2 — I’ve been flipping over)

  99. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 4:31 pm

    See now I have to rethink some things. I’ve always operated under the assumption that women have more common sense than men – yet here you are, still following this team.

  100. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 4:32 pm

    Juneau – a stealth chick? Well you had me fooled, buddy. Err, gal.

    Our very own androgynous baseball blogger.

    Nicely done.

  101. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 4:34 pm

    I’ve got both games at high volume and don’t know what the hell is going on in either. Like usual.

  102. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 4:34 pm

    Okay now I’m confused. Ibañez didn’t start this game did he?

    So Wedge pinch hit him for Saunders despite Condors’ better second half because… Veteran stuff? Replacing a lefty with another lefty?

  103. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 4:37 pm

    Hee. First off, this blog has been uniformly not been a sexist pig place in all my years here. I thank the mods for that, truly. But it’s also been a great test of my rhetorical abilities to keep comments not a chick/dude thing, but just about the game. The anonymity of the internet has its advantages.

    Ugh, another frustrating game. At least Ramirez doesn’t get the loss.

  104. juneau_fan on September 8th, 2013 4:39 pm

    No, Ibanez didn’t start. And yes, I assume his vet grit was supposed to come through, along with his chase for the various HR milestones, to tie the game up.

  105. msfanmike on September 8th, 2013 4:43 pm

    Go phillies!

  106. stevemotivateir on September 8th, 2013 7:37 pm

    Some of you make it sound as if Ibanez reaching milestones isn’t important.

    Our best shot at contention might be a change of the rules, which would allow a team with significant record-breakers to compete for a third wild card.

    The Mariners clearly see this as more realistic, than Jack being able to field a traditional contending roster.

  107. Westside guy on September 8th, 2013 7:55 pm

    Truly, he is a visionary – it is US who fail to see.

  108. MrZDevotee on September 9th, 2013 2:51 pm

    Wait, WHERE exactly did the horse step on Juneau?

    He’s a woman now?

    That had to hurt!? Get better, buddy!

    (Kidding Juneau…)

  109. MrZDevotee on September 9th, 2013 2:53 pm

    Also-
    That’s a catchy slogan you’re on the verge of Steve…

    “The Seattle Mariners– Chasing the 3rd Wildcard Spot Since 2002″

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