Game 162, Athletics at Mariners
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Sonny Gray, 1:10pm
It’s over. No more pain. No more sparring in the press between the team and beatwriters, between blogs and beatwriters, blogs and blogs, manager and GM, fans and everyone associated with this mess. It’ll start up soon, but for today, all eyes are properly on the compelling wild card chase between Cleveland, Tampa and Texas. This game, on the other hand, is a perfunctory performance before improvement can begin.
I love Erasmo Ramirez, but this has been a rough year for the young Nicaraguan. Arm trouble, command trouble, HR trouble – he’s had the full set, and it’s impacted his ability to use his best pitch. I think the off-season is probably just what he needs at this point. Sonny Gray, on the other hand, may find himself in the playoff rotation after a brilliant start to his MLB career. The diminutive righty uses a 94mph four-seamer that’s arrow straight coupled with a big breaking curve ball. The curve’s thrown around 80mph, and includes a lot of two-plane break; this is not Brandon Maurer’s slow yakker. As a result, he may be a bit more vulnerable to lefties, as the pitch can get slurvy. He showed fairly typical splits in the minors, and his (brilliant) line against lefties thus far in MLB doesn’t extend to his K:BB ratio – it’s a testament to his ability to keep the ball down and keep the ball in the park. Still, it’s always interesting when a guy with good but nowhere near great numbers comes up and succeeds in MLB. Certainly, his BABIP-against figures to drop as fielders (and fields themselves) improve. He may not be as successful the second time through the league as advance scouting catches up with him. But for now, Gray’s done everything asked of him and more.
Erasmo’s not only having trouble with his change-up – he’s struggling with his fastball command too. In 2012, Erasmo threw his four-seamer for a ball about 32% of the time. This season, it’s up to 38%. That’s led him to throw more sinkers, particularly to lefties (he’s done a better job of keeping that pitch in the zone). But at this point, the movement on his sinker and change-up are extremely close – both have a lot of armside run and sink. The difference in speed is significant, but if lefties can make contact with the change, they often pull it (if they look sinker, they may just be ahead on the change; the vertical movement difference between the two pitches is just 2″) – and he’s gotten killed on pulled-contact. Now of course *every* pitcher gets killed on pulled contact – that’s why Matthew tracks it at statcorner, for example. But not like Erasmo. Felix’s OPS-against on pulled-contact to righties is .944. To lefties, it’s .750 (thank you, Royal Change-up). Maurer, of course, has been eaten alive – his splits on pulled-contact are 1.341/1.261. Iwakuma’s at 1.115/.925. So Erasmo’s 1.667/1.070 line will get your attention. If it’s me, I’d throw fewer sinkers and more four-seamers – though of course, that’s dependent on Ramirez’ feel for his fastball. In any event, some rest and some tweaks to his approach would be good.
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Saunders, RF
8: Zunino, C
9: Ackley, CF
So the Wedge dismissal/resignation thing is getting ugly. Yesterday, a defiant Wedge denied that his contract status was the reason he’s leaving - the exact reasoning that Zduriencik gave the press. So, the M’s will have a new manager next year. Applicants know that Zduriencik is officially on the hot-seat with his contract expiring in 2014. In addition, they’ll know that the last manager’s relationship with that GM blew up fairly publicly. Get those resumes in, fellas. I feel like I need a macro for this on my keyboard, but: this situation could’ve been handled better.