Game 151, Mariners at Tigers

marc w · September 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Brandon Maurer vs. Anibal Sanchez, 4:08pm

If last night’s game felt a bit hopeless, at least the M’s were facing a guy they’d had some success against, and a guy who struggled versus lefties. Today’s game….today’s game feels like a blowout waiting to happen. Checking the Vegas lines, it looks like I’m not alone- this game’s odds look bizarre. With the Tigers getting close to wrapping up the division, neither team has a great deal of motivation, but the Tigers still have a great line-up and a great starting pitcher while the M’s have some guys who might be part of a decent team in a few years, if things break right.

Anibal Sanchez came over from Miami last year with some talent, but somewhat underwhelming results. He wasn’t bad, but a guy with an injury history and who’d worked his FIP from the mid 4s down to the mid 3s sounded like a very good #3, or possibly #4. With the Tigers, however, Sanchez has been amazing. After 28 starts and 240 innings, he’s put up an RA of 3.2, driven largely by his brilliant 2013 campaign. Instead of seeing his K% fall with the league switch, Sanchez is posting a career high in K% this year at over 26%. His HR% is extremely low, leading to a FIP of under 2.5. That in turn has pushed his Fangraphs WAR to 5.5 and counting, good for 6th in baseball, just behind Felix and well ahead of Yu Darvish.

Sanchez uses a four-seam fastball which has gained a tick or two in velocity this year – it’s now pushing 94mph on average. His other weapon is a change-up that’s in the top 10 for whiff rate and that’s been extremely tough on lefties. He throws a slider and a rare curve as well, but his fastball and change are his bread and butter pitches. Sanchez has a high 3/4 release, and coupled with the fact that his torso’s tilted towards 1b, Sanchez’s release point is essentially on a line running through the center of home plate. In addition to his change, this may help his platoon splits, as neither righties nor lefties get the advantage of an off-center release point. Indeed, his career wOBA to lefties is 3.07, while his wOBA to righties is…3.08. This isn’t BABIP-driven, either. By FIP, his splits are 3.59 and 3.57 with over 2,000 batters-faced on each side.

He’d probably be getting some Cy Young hype since he’s posted a great ERA on a winning team, but his teammate’s 19-3 with more innings pitched, so there’s not going to be much debate. Still, this season’s taken me by surprise as a middle-of-the-rotation guy’s taken a big step forward to be a quality #2 who may get to 6 WAR or so by season’s end. He hasn’t picked up a new pitch, and his pitch mix is relatively similar to prior seasons, so the only noteworthy thing that jumps out has been his fastball results. Now, results-based analysis is frowned-upon in these parts, so I certainly can’t come to any conclusions here. He’s spotting it away from lefties and righties – trying to hit the black as opposed to trying to keep the pitch low. That’s fine and all, but it’s also not different than what he did in, say, 2011. It’s possible that a combination of improved command and his extra velocity make the pitch tough to drive, but that’s speculation. He’s throwing slightly fewer pitches in the zone, and his contact% has dropped markedly. However, his contact% has dropped for all pitches, not just fastballs – it’s just that his SLG%-allowed his fallen dramatically on four-seamers, and not as dramatically on anything else.

Brandon Maurer’s SLG% has dropped some too, but as I talked about last time, that’s not saying a whole lot. On the plus side, Maurer’s facing a line-up of five righties and only four lefties (Fielder, Martinez, Kelly and Avila), but then his struggles aren’t as limited to lefties anymore. Maurer’s talented, and I think he’ll figure some things out eventually. A game like this *could* give him a ton of confidence heading into the Arizona Fall League and 2014, but this looks painful on paper. Maurer’s confidence has to be in tatters right now, and hey, here comes Miguel Cabrera.

1: Almonte, CF
2: Gutierrez, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Saunders, LF
7: Zunino, C
8: Franklin, 2B
9: Triunfel, SS
SP: Maurer

Tango’s “Fans Scouting Report” is going on now. This is the defensive metric that’s based on YOUR evaluations of player hands, speed, arm, etc. It’s a great idea, and it’s something you can use on Fangraphs as a check on other advanced defensive metrics, and it’s fascinating on its own year after year. Tango’s always been a good friend of the blog, so let’s make sure he’s not lacking in Mariner submissions for this year’s FSR. Go fill it out! When I looked today, M’s fans had filled out fewer FSRs than Orioles, Reds, Royals and Tigers fans, and that aggression will not stand.

Bad news out of the minor leagues, as local kid and M’s relief prospect Forrest Snow was hit with a 50-game suspension for a violation of the MLB drug policy. Not sure at this point what that violation entailed.


59 Responses to “Game 151, Mariners at Tigers”

  1. msfanmike on September 17th, 2013 7:35 pm

    I think he misunderstood what i meant by pitch “to him.”

  2. kenshabby on September 17th, 2013 7:36 pm

    At least the M’s have achieved some kind of parity this season: 33-42 at home, 33-42 on the road. (Okay, soon to be 33-43 on the road.)

    Yeah…looking for bright spots ain’t easy.

  3. msfanmike on September 17th, 2013 7:40 pm

    Consistently bad is not good.

  4. WestyHerr on September 17th, 2013 9:15 pm

    Each entry has 6 paragraphs on the pitching match up and 1 paragraph on our hitters. Mariner baseball. Catch it.

  5. G-Man on September 18th, 2013 12:19 pm
  6. eponymous coward on September 18th, 2013 1:09 pm

    Can’t wait for Baker to go to his new beat so he can quit trolling USSM.

  7. Westside guy on September 18th, 2013 1:09 pm

    I haven’t read anything from Baker for quite a while, and I’m a happier person for it – so I’m not going to start up again now. If the title indicated in that link is accurate of the content, then he’s arguing against a strawman anyway – no one here (or anywhere as far as I know) has ever argued that Raul or Morales were the problem with the Mariners… just how they (particularly Raul) have been used, and the way the past offseason played out as a whole.

    I am happily aware that, after the end of this season, he will no longer be writing about the Mariners. That will bring a merciful end to any more of this.

  8. eponymous coward on September 18th, 2013 1:17 pm

    Incidentally… I wouldn’t mind Raul as next year’s DH on a one year deal. Heck, even put in a decent raise. Dial him back down to 400 PAs by primarily using him against RHP and rotating other players through the DH slot? Sure. If he has another year left, great. If he flops and retires, well, it gets the FO’s Raul obsession taken care of, and it’s not THAT hard to find a bat-first guy for DH if the M’s are in contention in June/July and Raul is struggling.

    I’m willing to grant that while clubhouse chemistry and intangibles are largely bull***t meant to excuse people from actually examining what works/doesn’t in baseball, because nostrums and the “old boys network/The Book” is comfortable and nobody gets fired for following conventional wisdom the same way they do for trying something very different, you don’t want a team of Milton Bradleys either. So sure, let’s have Raul back in 2014 if he wants back.

    What I don’t particularly want? The M’s spending $20 million or so on two DHs, one of whom has to play the field a lot, and ignoring other parts of the team other than dingers. The M’s roster construction sucked in the offseason, and bringing back most of the reasons why it sucked won’t help.

  9. Westside guy on September 18th, 2013 1:28 pm

    Hey, at least they won’t be tempted to re-sign Morse this time around! He’s doing worse for the Orioles than he did here…

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