Game 152, Mariners at Tigers
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Justin Verlander, 4:08pm
Sure, the M’s lost the first two games of the series, but they were closer than you/I would’ve thought given the two were started by Joe Saunders and Brandon Maurer. Now, the M’s turn to ‘Kuma, one of the unsung heroes of the club and one of the more valuable pitchers in the AL by fielding-dependent metrics, or even by xFIP. Great, right? Oh yeah – now the M’s get to face Justin Verlander.
I know, I know: this is not vintage Verlander. With his velocity dipping and his slider sliding a bit less, Verlander’s looking at 3.5-4 fWAR this year, down from the 6.8-7 of 2011-12. Still, it’s *Justin Verlander* and he’s still pretty impressive. Iwakuma’s xFIP and ERA are better, but given Verlander’s death-to-lefties arsenal (his change and curve are both plus pitches; he last allowed a wOBA to lefties above .300 in 2008), it’s not like you’d bet all your money on an M’s win here. This is even more true given the bullpen’s struggles of late. Carter Capps looks like he can’t get anyone out at the moment, Yoervis Medina has slipped in the second half, and Oliver Perez looks a bit miffed he didn’t move to a contender in July.
1: Ackley, CF
2: Gutierrez, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Saunders, LF
7: Franklin, 2B
8: Blanco, C
9: Triunfel, SS
What are all of you looking for in the last week+ of this forgettable season? Is there anything you could see/hear that would alter your opinion on the M’s 2014 standing, or change your mind about whether to bring back Zduriencik and/or Wedge? If so, what is it? If not, have you just tuned out completely, or do you watch because Baseball! and inertia?
Loved this piece by Dave on the A’s. I for one welcome our new divisional overlords, as the A’s have an interesting combination of seeming vulnerability and superior talent and roster construction. I’ve talked from time to time about the A’s ability to extract every drop of value from their players, and the bizarre way that value aligns (Reddick sucks? OK, Donaldson’s turn. Cahill’s gone? OK, McCarthy instantly turns good. McCarthy’s gone? Fine, Bartolo Colon does whatever voodoo trick he’s doing, etc.). This article by Sam Miller focuses solely on their bullpen – the A’s have pieced together a top-shelf ‘pen with spare parts and trade throw-ins. Amazing, right? Except that the A’s have run through something like 50 similar players to find the right seven guys. It’s not like they’re clearly, demonstrably better than the Rangers (or M’s) at finding scrap-heap guys. Part of the equation seems to be that they simply don’t stop acquiring them and distilling these guys down until they have a workable unit. Need a 2B? Ok,
Jemile Weeks Scott Sizemore Grant Green Eric Sogard/Alberto Callaspo. They don’t stop trying different people, because they have almost nothing tied up in any player. I’d say the stakes are lower, but they’re the team in the playoffs and the M’s are the team doing…this. It’s an odd combination of platooning, relentless churn, sequencing, and savvy deployment of resources. Some of that (especially platooning) is something the M’s can learn from. Some of it seems serendipitous, and some of it doesn’t seem like it would quite apply (the M’s aren’t simply going to DFA Dustin Ackley when he starts off slow, any more than they’d ditch Carter Capps and promote…I don’t know, Brian Moran). But, like the A’s of 2000-2001, they certainly make you think.