Game 24, Rangers at Mariners
Brandon Maurer vs. Matt Harrison, 1:10pm
Back when Maurer first came up, I thought he reminded me a bit of Harrison in terms of pitch movement and repertoire. To be sure, Maurer was much more of a fastball/slider guy (sometimes moving towards a slider/fastball guy), and obviously Maurer’s a righty and Harrison’s not. Then there’s the fact that Harrison’s had some MLB success while Maurer’s…shown flashes, or something. Today, they’ll face off against each other – Maurer getting a second start after an extremely encouraging game in Miami, while Harrison makes his first start of the year after back surgery.
Harrison pitched in spring training, but his velocity was down significantly from prior years – around 90-91 from 93 or so (though the Rangers think he made some progress towards the end of the spring). He’s made a rehab start or two, but even there, it’s not clear his velocity’s all the way back.
Harrison uses a sinker, a four-seamer, a good change, and a curve and occasional cutter. He’s faced mostly righties in his Texas career, as he’s got fairly standard platoon splits – this is part of the reason why he hasn’t thrown as many cutter/curves. The M’s can actually throw out quite a few right-handed bats right now, but they’re still not hitting lefties terribly well. Some of this may be due to the quality of the lefties they’ve faced, and some of it is just luck. In fact, the M’s biggest problem on offense has been their production against right-handed pitchers. Against lefties, the M’s haven’t been great, and they’ve not hit for power, but they clear the low bar of a .300 OBP. Against righties, the M’s *have* hit for power, but that’s about the only semi-positive thing you can say about them.
1: Saunders, CF
2: Romero, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Gillespie, LF
7: Seager, 3B
8: Buck, C
9: Bloomquist, SS
Maurer’s emergence was sorely needed, as the M’s pitching depth has taken a big hit. But Hisashi Iwakuma’s getting closer to returning too – he’s starting today for Tacoma as they take on Las Vegas at Cashman Field. Steven Landazuri, who’s had a very good start for AA Jackson, takes the hill against Mobile, and top prospect Edwin Diaz starts for Clinton against Cedar Rapids.
The Rangers think they’ve solved Felix Hernandez. That nasty inning last night was the 3rd or 4th time they’ve BABIP’d him to death, so I’m not sure that’s quite the same as figuring a guy out, but the results have been solid. There’s something to be said for making lots of contact against a swing-and-miss pitcher. It’s interesting that it’s the banter between Felix and Adrian Beltre that the Rangers point to as evidence of their ability to get in Felix’s head and get him off his game. I wonder if the M’s would ask him to stop doing it, and, if they did ask, what he’d say. (Hat Tip: Bob Dutton)