Game 2, Mariners at Angels

marc w · April 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Erasmo Ramirez vs. CJ Wilson, 7:05pm

Coming off of a disappointing 2012 with the Angels – his first year of a 5-yr $77.5m deal – and with so much uncertainty in the Angels rotation last year, CJ Wilson needed a return to his 2010-2011 form. When he kicked off 2013 by walking way too many, it looked like he was on the decline phase of his career, just as the escalators in his contract hit (he’ll be paid $16m this year, up from $11m last year). But by mid/late May, Wilson had worked out the kinks and settled in to post a 3-fWAR season, his best since his last year in Arlington.

Wilson gets a fair number of strikeouts and has average walk rates, so he seems like a guy whose FIP could swing significantly based on how many long fly balls go over the fence. In fact, Wilson’s consistently good HR rates are a key to his success. He’s done it in HR-haven Arlington, and he’s continued to do it in HR-suppressing Anaheim. He’s done it as a high-GB% guy, as he was most years in his career, and last year he did it despite a steep drop in his GB%, which seems to have been driven by throwing fewer two-seam fastballs and relying on his four-seamer more (again, this makes sense given his home ballpark, and divisional haunts like Oakland and Seattle). His breaking pitches tend to be hit on the ground, which helps, but another factor may be the sheer number of pitches he throws.

As you probably know, a starting pitcher tends to lose effectiveness each time through the line-up. MGL (Mitchel Lichtman) did a study recently that found that pitchers with more pitches in their repertoire tend to suffer *less* from this penalty. That is, they retain more of their overall effectiveness the 2nd/3rd/4th times through the line-up. Intuitively, this makes sense. It would certainly be advantageous to have a pitch in your back pocket that a particular hitter hasn’t seen yet, and Wilson throws 5 pitches with some regularity. It’s a similar result to one found by Joe Roegele at the Hardball Times, who measured the increase in each hitter’s wOBA each time they see a certain pitch from a pitcher (that is, they hit better on the 5th four-seamer they see from a pitcher in a game, and slightly better again on the 6th, and better still on the 7th). Another recent study – this one from Robert Arthur – found that throwing a number of different pitches, and throwing them without a clear, repetitive pattern, has a small but significant impact on K%.

So that’s presumably why Wilson and his 91mph fastball, and an array of so-so to pretty decent breaking pitches can be effective and consistent. Some pitchers don’t need a bunch of options. Randy Johnson might have been a HOF hurler with only one pitch. But diversity is pretty important to the guys without overwhelming stuff or plus-plus breaking balls. Incidentally, this might be something to watch with Erasmo Ramirez, who gets the start tonight for Seattle. Ramirez threw more breaking balls last year – especially sliders – and used his very good change-up less. This wasn’t because of batter handedness; he saw a much HIGHER percentage of lefties in 2013 than he did in 2012. He just stopped throwing the change to righties. All of this is speculative, as he hasn’t pitched enough in total for us to really get a sense of how the M’s want him to attack hitters, and the new coaching staff’s a confounding variable too. But while his slider’s results weren’t great, the fact that he throws one (and an occasional curve) may help him stay effective overall. Now he just needs to stay healthy.

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Romero, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Buck, C
SP: Erasmo Ramirez

The M’s RH-heavy line-up takes its first turn of 2014, with Corey Hart at DH and Stefen Romero making his big-league debut in RF. Miller and Ackley are the only lefties in the line-up. A good, early test of the M’s off-season plan to get better against left-handed pitching.


65 Responses to “Game 2, Mariners at Angels”

  1. Section329 on April 1st, 2014 10:05 pm


  2. juneau_fan on April 1st, 2014 10:06 pm

    That’s weird. I mean, a good weird. Didn’t they say earlier that Miller had 2 two homer games last season? It’s something he does?

  3. The_Waco_Kid on April 1st, 2014 10:07 pm


  4. Sea-Dog on April 1st, 2014 10:07 pm

    How many times has Miller hit two home runs in a game? I swear he has done it about 5 times all ready in his career.

  5. leon0112 on April 1st, 2014 10:08 pm

    I like scoring runs in the 9th inning.

  6. nvn8vbryce on April 1st, 2014 10:08 pm

    Who is this Brad Miller guy? I’ll take the series win too… Too early to pray for a sweep?

  7. absolutsyd on April 1st, 2014 10:09 pm

    Going to need to find a nice, retro Miller shirt. Preferably with “It’s Miller Time” across the front!

  8. juneau_fan on April 1st, 2014 10:14 pm

    God, I haven’t been paying attention this off season. When did the Mariners get Rodney? Why did he come to Seattle? I’ve got to get up to speed, obviously!

  9. MrZDevotee on April 1st, 2014 10:16 pm

    Okay, so averaging 9 runs scored a game, 3 runs allowed…

    Take a bow, fellas. First series win in the books (didn’t happen till the end of April last year)…

  10. Breadbaker on April 1st, 2014 10:17 pm

    Yesterday, featured the Mike Trout Story in discussing the game. So today we should expect, “Raul Ibanez, back from the dead.”

  11. msfanmike on April 1st, 2014 10:17 pm

    Nice game, boys!

  12. Sea-Dog on April 1st, 2014 10:20 pm

    That got Rodney this year when they signed him for 14 million over two years. Why did he sign with us? Because that was probably a lot more than he would have gotten elsewhere considering he hasn’t looked like an elite closer outside of one year.

  13. dr3wman on April 1st, 2014 10:21 pm

    I LOVE what Brad does at the plate. His no battling gloves, his swing……it is just a beautiful thing to watch. No doubt on his second one tonight. I’ll never tire of that sound.

  14. Eastside Suds on April 1st, 2014 10:21 pm

    Go M’s!

  15. HighlightsAt11 on April 2nd, 2014 5:25 pm

    I’ve been sedated post surgery the last several days and missed the first two games.

    Please don’t tell me this 2-0 record with +12.0 differential is an April Fools Joke.

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