Game 14, Felix vs. Darvish

marc w · April 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Yu Darvish, 5:05pm

Today’s slate of games features three former Cy Young winners, a couple of players most see as near-locks to win one in the future, and a smattering of all-stars, ROY-candidates and solidly above-average guys. It’s an astonishing array of talent, but I think we can safely say without any M’s or Rangers bias that the eyes of the baseball world will be on this game.

I’ve talked a lot recently about middle-tier or even journeymen types refining their approach and trying new things to stay a step of hitters – or just to stay on big league rosters. We kind of expect that from guys who weren’t blessed with loads of natural talent, but while it’s not like we haven’t noticedFelix making adjustments before, I don’t think it gets enough attention. In part, it’s not in Felix’s nature to discuss this – his public utterances don’t seem to indicate a relentless tinkerer, or someone thinking about how to adjust to batters’ adjustments. It’s almost as if his little adjustments are another form of muscle memory – that he can adjust without consciously doing so. A slew of pitching coaches and catchers may have had something to do with it too, but of course the team itself hasn’t shown a lot of confidence in any of them (except Zunino, of course).*

Logan noted the change in his K:BB at LL recently, but it bears repeating. Felix’s K/9 has gone up each year since 2011, but K/9 somewhat undersells it: the gain in K% is larger because Felix has done this while also dropping his walk rate. This has led to much lower FIPs than he used to run, right at a time when we expect to see some of Felix’s effectiveness curbed by aging and declining velo. As we’ve seen this year, challenging more sometimes means home runs, but of course if he had been pulled earlier (many would argue “at the correct time” not just “earlier”), he’d only have given up one on the year, and his FIP would be miniscule. But even with 3 HRs allowed, what we’ve seen of Felix this year has been jaw-dropping. Think about how hard it is to surprise all of *us* about Felix Hernandez, and how easily he’s done so this year. The A’s won their 10th game last night, and despite facing very good pitching, are 4th in the league in runs scored. The Angels are 2nd. Both are in the top 5 in wRC+ thus far. It’s not like Felix was facing the Astros or even the beat-up Rangers. And he made them – ok, all of them but Trout- look lost.

That brings us to Yu Darvish, who hasn’t given up a run yet in 15 innings. Like Felix, he’s improved his control, and has yielded only two free passes through two starts. Despite throwing an array of pitches, Darvish was known mostly for his slider, especially last year. In his last start, he didn’t throw a single one, opting for curve balls instead. It’s too soon to know what to make of it, or if he’s just been working on things while brushing off the Astros. This is what a large repertoire can do, though. You can tailor your offerings to what feels good that day, to the opponents’ weaknesses, or just give an opponent who’s seen you often an entirely different look. That said, the M’s have had a lot of success against Darvish – as the M’s radio broadcast discussed last night. Many of you will remember the last USSM/LL meet-up at Safeco, when these two hurlers matched up and the M’s walked away with a 7-0 win. Ackley and Saunders doubled that game, and John Jaso hit a HR (to left, as I recall). It’s not like Darvish has large platoon splits or anything, but they’re there, so the M’s lefty-heavy line-up is a good countermeasure.

This is fun.

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Saunders, RF
6: Franklin, DH
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: El Rey

Joining the team tonight, as you see above, is IF Nick Franklin. Logan Morrison’s heading to the DL; apparently Morrison’s hamstring was bandaged up today. Franklin was on an absolute tear in AAA, going 17-43 with 6 walks and 10 Ks, and 4 HRs (mostly in chilly, damp Tacoma – this isn’t an altitude-driven mirage) on his way to a formidable slash line of .295/.469/.744 (small sample, blah blah).

While Felix exists as a living, breathing, dominating exception to the rule that all pitchers get hurt, the M’s have obviously struggled to keep their non-Felixes healthy. While we were still reeling from the news about Walker last night, this morning brought word that another M’s pitching prospect is headed to the DL. This time, it’s AA righty Victor Sanchez, who’ll head to the DL with “forearm tightness.” This is *not* fun.

We now have some indication of why Blake Beavan was pulled after an uneventful 4th inning last night as opposed to after his 2-HR 2nd. Surprise! He’s hurt! Beavan to the DL, with CF/RF James Jones coming up to take his 25-man spot. Jones is a lanky 6’4″ OF with a cannon arm (most teams wanted to draft him as a pitcher out of LIU), but his power hasn’t quite developed the way many thought it might after he hit 12 HRs for Clinton in the pitcher-friendly MWL in 2010. He cracked the back of a top-100 prospects list once, but wasn’t able to make the leap into true prospect status last year. And frankly, the M’s could use an OF prospect. Jones (like a lot of Rainiers) got off to a solid start this year, but he’s essentially neck and neck with Xavier Avery right now. Avery came off the 40-man this spring, but he’s scuffled a bit so far. So, despite being a bit older and possessing a less than awesome 96:43 SB:CS ratio, Jones it is. Jones probably has more upside than Avery, and despite the CS numbers, has decent speed. Jones (like Avery) is a lefty hitter. No word yet on the corresponding 40-man move.

* He seems to have made some sort of leap in the 2012 season, after a – by his standards only – lackluster 2011. That’s the year the M’s catchers were Olivo, Jaso and Montero, not exactly guys you’d peg as receivers who can help their pitchers with quality receiving and high baseball intellect. It was Jaso, of course, who caught the perfecto and also saw Felix’s highest K:BB ratio that year, but a part of me desperately wants to believe that it was Jesus Montero passed on some simple, effective tip and essentially caused Felix to morph into the Ur-Felix we’re seeing now. Not because I want to “get something” from The Trade, but because it would be so powerfully ironic, that irony itself may collapse in on itself like a dying star.


150 Responses to “Game 14, Felix vs. Darvish”

  1. HighlightsAt11 on April 16th, 2014 7:46 pm

    Gameday Scout is so stupid:
    “Fernando Rodney is trying to tie up Prince Fielder with fastballs inside; Fielder is hitting .222 on pitches in that location compared to .175 overall.”

  2. MrZDevotee on April 16th, 2014 7:48 pm

    (hold breath)

  3. Eastside Suds on April 16th, 2014 7:48 pm

    It’s never easy with Mr. Rodney. But he is nasty

  4. msfanmike on April 16th, 2014 7:49 pm

    Keep holding, mr z

  5. MrZDevotee on April 16th, 2014 7:49 pm

    (turning purple)

  6. MrZDevotee on April 16th, 2014 7:50 pm


  7. HighlightsAt11 on April 16th, 2014 7:50 pm

    Mr Z…are you still wearing the same shirt?

  8. juneau_fan on April 16th, 2014 7:50 pm

    Hang in there for us, Z.

  9. Section329 on April 16th, 2014 7:51 pm


  10. MrZDevotee on April 16th, 2014 7:51 pm



    Take deep breath, or 10… Start it all over again…

    (Holding breath)

  11. MissouriMariner on April 16th, 2014 7:51 pm

    UGH…..a two out walk in the ninth…this guy is going to kill me this year

  12. msfanmike on April 16th, 2014 7:51 pm

    Zits him!

  13. Eastside Suds on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm

    Get ahead!

  14. Eastside Suds on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm


  15. HighlightsAt11 on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm


    Ex-M Wilson is at bat. Time for Fernando to whiff the ball by Josh (not by the catcher).

  16. juneau_fan on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm

    Mr. Z and all the rest of us fall over.

  17. Westside guy on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm

    Don’t blow this you morons!

  18. msfanmike on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm

    Fuck me!

  19. MrZDevotee on April 16th, 2014 7:52 pm

    OMFGDMFYSOB… *sigh*

  20. HighlightsAt11 on April 16th, 2014 7:53 pm

    Nevermind. PH for Josh. Good move by Washington.

  21. Westside guy on April 16th, 2014 7:53 pm


  22. Eastside Suds on April 16th, 2014 7:53 pm


  23. MrZDevotee on April 16th, 2014 7:53 pm


  24. HighlightsAt11 on April 16th, 2014 7:53 pm

    Now I get to say FUCK!

  25. MissouriMariner on April 16th, 2014 7:54 pm

    Poor Felix…..

  26. juneau_fan on April 16th, 2014 7:54 pm

    *quietly turning off feed*

  27. Westside guy on April 16th, 2014 7:54 pm

    Crap on a crap cracker. I got home just in time for this?

  28. Sports on a Shtick on April 16th, 2014 7:54 pm

    Would be nice for Brad to stop sucking.

  29. nvn8vbryce on April 16th, 2014 7:55 pm

    Pluck a gooey duck

  30. Eastside Suds on April 16th, 2014 7:55 pm

    Memories of last year. Oh the pain.

  31. msfanmike on April 16th, 2014 7:55 pm

    No words

  32. Eastside Suds on April 16th, 2014 7:56 pm

    That’s on Miller. Brutal

  33. californiamariner on April 16th, 2014 7:56 pm


  34. Westside guy on April 16th, 2014 7:56 pm

    Rodney didn’t exactly do his job either – but Miller has flubbed up way too much lately. That double play yesterday was a flub too, even though the ball caromed to Cano.

  35. stevemotivateir on April 16th, 2014 7:58 pm

    Always nice to walk in the door on a night Felix pitched well, just to watch the pen blow it in the 9th.

    The infield error didn’t help any, but goddamn are these ending old.

  36. msfanmike on April 16th, 2014 8:00 pm

    Nice footwork, brad. Nice Fundies.

  37. Power of orange on April 16th, 2014 8:02 pm

    It’s the same old shit but with a different leader. Only five months to football season

  38. msfanmike on April 16th, 2014 8:03 pm

    And he doesn’t really know how to apply a tag, either. Future CF written all over him – but it’s going to take a slick fielding shortstop to replace him someday. Franklin is not the answer at SS. Miller has never been a good fielder and this one of those “Brendan Ryan” type of needs, games. There were some plays he probably would have made that Miller will never make.

  39. groundzero55 on April 16th, 2014 8:10 pm

    If we’d had a better closer pitching we wouldn’t need to depend on a Brendan Ryan type play to save us. Especially when it comes down to multiple plays in one inning. This is where the “veteran closer” fallacy gets us. We’d be better off with Farquhar closing. Miller had another rough game but to me this falls much more heavily on Rodney.

  40. Woodcutta on April 16th, 2014 8:15 pm

    The error wasn’t the only mistake Miller made. The only reason Kouzmanoff was on base was Miller was playing way to far in the hole so anything hit towards second base will be a hit.

  41. Woodcutta on April 16th, 2014 8:16 pm

    How does this fall on Rodney? Miller gave Texas TWO more outs. Most pitchers if not all would struggle when he has to get 5 outs in an inning.

  42. JasonJ on April 16th, 2014 8:23 pm

    Just one of those games that was destined to rip our hearts out. Fortunately we are used to it.

    Obviously Miller bungled it but Rodney needs to figure out why he has to go 2-0 on every batter before even getting the ball anywhere near the plate.

    Oh well. Life of a Mariner fan.

  43. groundzero55 on April 16th, 2014 8:28 pm

    Miller was playing further in the hole with Kouzmanoff at the plate because Kouz is a pull-heavy hitter. There is nothing inherently wrong with where Miller was standing. Most shortstops not named Ryan or Simmons won’t make that play anyway. Rodney on the other hand shouldn’t be walking anybody in a 1-run game.

  44. Woodcutta on April 16th, 2014 8:45 pm

    He almost got to the ball and stopped it from going through. If he was 5 feet to his left he would have easily got to that ball. Rodney got two outs and gave Miller two chances to end the game on ground balls. The walk shouldn’t have even come into play. The idiotic flip from too far away should have been a routine play, no Brendan Ryan needed. If Miller’s defense is going to be so horrible then maybe just maybe the M’s need a defensive specialist at SS instead of WFB on the bench.

  45. californiamariner on April 16th, 2014 9:03 pm

    Everyone panicking about Miller’s defense all of a sudden? What? He’s been perfectly fine all season. SSS but the defensive metrics actually had him as a plus.

    The first ball he was clearly playing towards 3rd because of the pull hitter and this is almost guaranteed to have been at the request of the coaching staff.

    The second ball was terrible. Yeah he should have made the play. It sucks. Brutal way to lose. But prescribing Miller as a failure is below us.

  46. G-Man on April 16th, 2014 9:08 pm

    californiamariner, those are my sentiments exactly.

  47. Sports on a Shtick on April 16th, 2014 9:15 pm

    Miller has completely whiffed a tag on a stolen base earlier this season, but generally, I agree his defense has been fine (tonight excluded).

    His hitting approach, however, is downright dreadful.

    And Rodney was his typical iffy self. No reason why Danny shouldn’t be closer except for Rodney being brought in with an expensive contract that says “CLOSER” on it somewhere.

  48. californiamariner on April 16th, 2014 9:25 pm

    Yeah, Miller’s hitting hasn’t been what I expected either. However, I’m not ready to panic yet. Young players usually have a learning curve, baseball is hard guys!

  49. rjfrik on April 16th, 2014 9:34 pm

    This game was all on Miller. Fernando did his job. Yeah he walked Martin, but Moreland, if you were paying attention, was pretty much given the free pass to get to Josh Wilson. Lloyd came out and basically told Rodney not to give Moreland anything to hit because he was 3-6 against him. Fernando did exactly what he was supposed to do, not give Moreland anything to hit, give him first and bring up Wilson with two outs. Yes Wilson was pinched hit for, but the pinch hitter was equally as terrible. Fernando did his job and induced a routine ground ball that a weekend softball player could make. Grab the ball and throw the damn ball. Underhand, really? What is this a scared little boy on a little league team. It was beyond a ridiculous play and it cost us the game. In my opinion Miller should sit tomorrow and let Franklin play SS.

  50. naviomelo on April 16th, 2014 9:35 pm

    At the game, 4 rows behind the M’s dugout. Felix punched his glove as he was taken out of the game. Pitman and Drayer did not even mention Farquhar at all on the post-game show, saying that Furbush and Medina are the best relievers we have. Has everyone forgotten about Farquhar?

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