Game 13, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · April 15, 2014 at 4:30 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Blake Beavan vs. Robbie Ross, 5:05pm

Ah, Blake Beavan is *back*. I anticipate this game will get a ton of attention, so you may experience some site issues or load-time problems during the game.

Beavan doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence thanks to a steroid-era HR rate and an inability to miss bats. I’d argued a few times that antipathy to his low-K style made him seem much worse than he actually was, but 2013 made it a lot tougher to continue believing Beavan’s anything but a replacement-level (or worse) fill in. The problem’s the same: his low-walk skillset is predicated on throwing fastballs in the zone, and without an ability to miss bats (or get a ton of ground balls), that’s going to lead to HRs. I’ll give the guy credit – like most pitchers, he’s publicly made several changes, but they don’t seem to have helped. In fact, one of those changes may have made things worse.

When he first came up, Beavan enjoyed a string of quality starts driven largely by a very low BABIP. He gave up HRs here or there, but they were often solo shots. Perhaps in response to the home run problems, and perhaps because he posted some horrific platoon splits in 2011, Beavan decided he’d substantially increase the use of his sinker in 2012. He threw about 2 four-seamers for every sinker overall in 2011, but threw more sinkers than four-seamers in 2012. Against lefties, he used the sinker more than twice as often as the four-seamer. The problem was that Beavan’s sinker just isn’t very good, and he compounds that with the fact that sinkers naturally have *higher* platoon splits than four-seam fastballs. If the choice was simply trading more singles for fewer HRs, you could understand it a bit. But in his career, he’s given up a homer on 7.6% of all sinkers in play (not just in the air), while just 3.4% of his four-seamers put in play have left the yard.

This is something I’ve talked about before, but I just don’t understand why there’s clearly such a focus on getting pitchers to throw 4-seams to same-handed batters and 2-seams to opposite-handed batters. It’s completely backwards, at least according to the data we’ve looked at. Again, you can argue that an informed trade-off of OBP for SLG may be appropriate in certain cases – especially in cases where the pitcher’s giving up too many homers. But in Beavan’s case (and in many others), this advice has been disastrous.

Robbie Ross is a converted reliever who’s primarily – overwhelmingly – a fastball/slider guy. He’s seems like a classic LOOGY or a guy with massive platoon splits of his own, but he’s actually run reverse splits thus far. That’s probably just small-sample noise, but it shows why Ross was effective even when facing predominantly right-handed bats. A part of the reason for his success is that he’s adept at getting right-handers to hit the ball on the ground. His K:BB ratio isn’t great against them, but even in Arlington, they can’t hit home runs when they’re just hitting grounders. So far, his FB velocity’s right where it was in the bullpen – around 92-93mph.

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Romero, RF
6: Seager, 3B
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Bloomquist, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Beavan

The M’s reaped the benefit of another controversial transfer-rule call overturn. It put a run on the board, as Ackley was originally called out on the field. The rule’s interpretation is odd, and the potential for strategic hijinks is high, as Dave’s recent Fangraphs article explored. But that inning really put a spotlight on just how bad a defensive team Texas is right now. They’ve slipped a few years in a row since a good 2010-11, but without Beltre or Profar, they’re struggling. The A’s massive advantage in D has been an important, somewhat underrated, reason they’ve held off the Rangers the past few years.

In the minors tonight, there’s really only one story: Taijuan Walker pitches for Tacoma. If you’re in the area, GO.


25 Responses to “Game 13, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. unkrusty on April 15th, 2014 2:16 pm

    Because after Saunders’ nice game last evening it is critical that he be benched the following night.

  2. Westside guy on April 15th, 2014 2:25 pm

    Lloyd seems to be weirdly fixated on the surface definition of platoon splits – even more so than Wedge. Like Wedge, he doesn’t seem to care if any given individual actually exhibits the splits; just that “left against right is good” and vice versa.

    We’re definitely still in small sample size territory – I know that. But a young guy like Romero should really be on a shorter leash, if only for his own sake. He’s overmatched at the plate right now, and it’s not like he’s this wizard on defense… so why not give him more time to develop at AAA? He doesn’t seem ready now, and I really don’t want to see him get beat down to the point he mentally will never be ready.

    Anyway, I’d have liked to see Saunders out there today – but even more, Ackley should be playing. Saunders does seem to have somewhat of a platoon disadvantage, 2012 notwithstanding (although it’s not like he’s hopeless against lefties). Ackley really doesn’t though.

  3. stevemotivateir on April 15th, 2014 2:44 pm

    Willie and Romero in the outfield. At the same time.

    Thank God we have Beavan on the mound, so defense shouldn’t be a necessity.

  4. casey on April 15th, 2014 3:20 pm

    crazy weird line-up given what has happened so far this season – head scratcher for me but Lloyd is the baseball expert so curious how it might play out.

    Curious on Ackley / Willie B emerging platoon since Ackley has been killing lefties so far.

  5. californiamariner on April 15th, 2014 3:25 pm

    The lineup won’t matter when they’re launching balls over the fence off of Beavan.

  6. casey on April 15th, 2014 3:32 pm

    with this lineup + Beavan looks like a good night to go golfing.

  7. Longgeorge1 on April 15th, 2014 3:40 pm

    Always a good night to play golf

  8. Westside guy on April 15th, 2014 3:41 pm

    “The lineup won’t matter when they’re launching balls over the fence off of Beavan.”

    “with this lineup + Beavan looks like a good night to go golfing.”

    Maybe that’s what Mac is up to – he’s trying to keep Ackley from stressing a vertebra caused by the constant stream of balls going over his head (and the fence).

  9. heyoka on April 15th, 2014 4:56 pm

    Let’s pretend we don’t care about the game by submitting this line up to lull the opposition into a false sense of confidence.

    This is the same reasoning behind why we let Noesi off the hook last night.

    Mariners = many moves ahead

  10. drw on April 15th, 2014 5:19 pm

    Walker scratched, could not get loose. Yikes.

  11. djw on April 15th, 2014 5:21 pm

    Oh, crap.

  12. Jake on April 15th, 2014 5:31 pm

    Leave It To Beavan.

  13. kimalanus on April 15th, 2014 5:32 pm

    ohhhh, ick.

  14. Paul B on April 15th, 2014 5:32 pm

    Shocked. Imagine my surprise.

  15. taylor.mariner on April 15th, 2014 5:34 pm

    Welcome back Blake, it’s like you never left!

  16. nvn8vbryce on April 15th, 2014 5:35 pm

    I guess Lloyd’s pep talk didn’t work

  17. kimalanus on April 15th, 2014 5:50 pm

    Whoops, look what I found!

  18. taylor.mariner on April 15th, 2014 5:51 pm

    That was a magical mystery double play.

  19. Westside guy on April 15th, 2014 6:08 pm

    Just coming in… so Fielder hit his first homer eh? That’s so Beavan.

  20. californiamariner on April 15th, 2014 6:14 pm

    For everyone talking about the Rangers, A’s, Braves, etc with the pitcher injuries, the Mariners have been just as bad if not the worst.

  21. Westside guy on April 15th, 2014 6:42 pm

    I miss Blowers.

  22. msfanmike on April 15th, 2014 6:56 pm

    This game is so very winnable – still – but it feels like they are down by six runs.

  23. Westside guy on April 15th, 2014 7:22 pm

    I just look away for a few minutes, and now they’ve got three more runs. Um, what?

  24. nvn8vbryce on April 15th, 2014 7:38 pm

    Westy, all you need to know is Blake “the BLEVE” Beavan and Tom “the Torch” Wilhelmsen…

    (here’s a BLEVE for those who don’t know what one is – I’m on my phone and can’t link it correctly):

  25. Westside guy on April 15th, 2014 10:51 pm

    Haha, that video captured the Beavan Experience perfectly!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.