Game 9, Athletics at Mariners
King Felix vs. Tommy Milone, 7:10pm
Happy Felix Day – the first home celebration of our benevolent rulers long and oddly low-key reign. Not that we, as denizens of Felix’ fecund and forested kingdom, crave tumultuous events like war, famine, or commodity-driven bubbles and land speculation, but man, shouldn’t we annex a portion of Beanesville? Hell, how about a free-trade pact with Astreau just to make Darvishia wonder what we’re up to.
Tommy Milone looked to be the odd man out this spring, as he was slated for a stint in the A’s bullpen after two years of mostly solid work in the rotation. Nothing wrong with his work, but undersized guy throwing 86 is pretty much always going to face an uphill battle to keep his job once the club saw undersized guy throwing 96. Then, Ulnar, God of Elbows’ spring break pub crawl paid the A’s a visit, and Jarrod Parker went in for his second TJ surgery. Suddenly the A’s had an opening again.
Milone’s the same sneaky-slow fastball/solid change-up guy we’ve seen several times over the past two seasons – he’s made *8* starts against the M’s since 2012. And that neatly segues to his home run problem. Milone put up a 3.93 FIP in 2012, and saw that rise to 4.30 in 2013 despite a slight uptick in his K% (ok, his BB% went up too). But Milone’s problem, and you can see this coming when you throw an 86mph fastball and get a ton of fly balls, is and always will be home runs. He gave up 24 in 190 innings in 2012 (which isn’t great considering his home park, but isn’t the end of the world), then gave up 25 in 156+ innings last year. A part of it may be where he pitched – he made 18 starts in Oakland and Seattle in 2012, and just 13 everywhere else. In 2013, he made 12 starts in Oak/Sea and 14 elsewhere. Of course, he was great at home in 2012 and not great at all in 2013, so it’s probably a bunch of things.*
1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Romero, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
One of the oddities of the early Rainiers pitching staff has been Brandon Maurer pitching in middle relief. Unquestionably the most talented hurler on the staff, Maurer had some injury problems in the spring, but was reportedly tabbed as the long reliever for Tacoma. Then, he made a couple of brief relief appearances instead and DIDN’T start a double-header game that would’ve been perfect for a long-reliever (instead, the R’s went with a bullpen day with Nick Hill starting it off). Today, the M’s said that he’ll move into the rotation, and that they just wanted to get him built up. All of my speculative kremlinology, all my wondering if the M’s were upset with Maurer for some reason…none of it was true. He was hurt, they eased him in, now he’s in the rotation. Cool.
Today in the minors: Carlos Misell (Clinton), Dylan Unsworth (HD), Stephen Landazuri (Jackson), Anthony Fernandez (Tacoma). As I mentioned the other day, Unsworth’s first start in the Cal League went better than I would’ve expected- he gave up one un-earned run in 6 innings in the Adelanto wind-tunnel. Unsworth came over with a well-spotted FB in the mid-upper 80s, which is pretty tough to project. But he was also just 17, and some reports from last season say he added quite a few ticks. In the oft-mocked, over-used baseball twitter phrase, big, if true.
Speaking of High Desert, DJ Peterson’s strong start has garnered some attention, and a few deserved “Well, what do you expect” comments, but it’s great to see Gabriel Guerrero start off hot. The young Dominican had an awful start for Clinton last year.
GO FELIX! Go M’s!
* His change got good results both from a whiff and batted-ball-result point of view, so it’s not like batters exploited that weapon once they got to know it. Instead, I think Milone’s a good example of the old baseball cliche that an 86mph fastball up in the zone is a fairly risky strategy.