Game 26, Mariners at Yankees

marc w · May 1, 2014 at 3:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Hiroki Kuroda, 4:05pm

After yesterday’s rain-out (and you know you’re a baseball blogger when you kind of look forward to talking about David Phelps), the Yankees reshuffled their rotation, so the M’s face righty Hiroki Kuroda. Before Tanaka, before Iwakuma, before Uehara turned unhittable, there was Hiroki Kuroda. He’s by no means the first pitcher to feature a splitter, and he’s not even the first Japanese pitcher to find success in MLB in part thanks to his split-finger. But Kuroda’s success and, importantly, his evolution in the majors probably contributed to the bidding war around Tanaka.

To review, Kuroda signed with the Dodgers before the 2008 season, and spent four solid, almost insanely consistent seasons in LA. He moved to New York in 2012 and continued to post FIPs in the mid-3s despite the small park. Kuroda’s been one of the best free agent acquisitions in a long time for an organization known mostly for free agent acquisitions. His splitter’s helped him against lefties, and it’s helped avoid serious home run issued in hitter-friendly new Yankee stadium. What’s interesting, though, is that he wasn’t always a fastball/splitter pitcher. Only in his last season in LA did Kuroda throw appreciably more splitters than sliders…to left-handed hitters. To righties, he’s still a fastball/slider guy.

It’s worth noting that the splitters that Kuroda/Iwakuma/Tanaka/Alex Cobb throw are quite a bit different from the pitch that Dan Haren and Ubaldo Jimenez call a splitter. You can read Dan Haren describe his pitch to Eno Sarris here, but from a movement perspective, it’s more similar to a change-up, with arm-side run compared to the four-seam and moderate sink. It’s also slower – it’s around 8-10mph slower than the FB. Kuroda/Iwakuma/Tanaka/Cobb throw a pitch that’s maybe 4-6mph slower than a four-seam (Kuroda’s is 87, Iwakuma’s is 86), with no more arm-side run than the four-seam and a more pronounced downward dive. That means they can use it in different ways – whereas Dan Haren talks about being able to use it within the strike zone, and get *called* strikes with it, Kuroda/Iwakuma essentially avoid the strikezone completely, but rack up swinging strikes anyway.

So does Kuroda have Iwakuma’s reverse splits? No, he doesn’t – they’re completely normal. I do wonder, though, what they’d look like if he wasn’t so enamored with his slider, especially early on. In his career, lefties have hit five times as many HRs on Kuroda’s slider as his split, despite the fact that he’s thrown them about the same number of each. Technically, Iwakuma’s given up more HRs to lefties with HIS slider too, despite the fact that he rarely throws it to them.

Still, Kuroda’s nearing in on 40, and he’s not been as sharp this year. He’s been worse against lefties, but significantly worse against righties, though it’s obviously too soon to know if that means anything. The M’s have something of a re-jiggered line-up as they try to take this series and keep themselves on the periphery of the chase.

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

Chance Ruffin, Jochi Ogando, Jake Zokan, Carlos Misell and Matt Anderson start tonight for the M’s affiliates.


82 Responses to “Game 26, Mariners at Yankees”

  1. jorax on May 1st, 2014 6:15 pm

    Can someone explain to me why we seem to be so bad at stealing bases? Or am I just only seeing the terrible attempts and its SSS?

  2. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:17 pm

    My personal opinion is, at least for some of the bad steals I’ve seen, that Lloyd has been calling for hit and runs but our guys haven’t been executing them well at all.

    This last one, though, I don’t know. Saunders is usually a good base stealer, and that didn’t look good at all.

  3. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:19 pm

    Nice catch by Seager there.

  4. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:21 pm

    Why would McLendon argue that? Wouldn’t he prefer it be 3-2?

  5. Kazinski on May 1st, 2014 6:25 pm

    “Haha, yeah, Saunders has his OBP up to league average right now”

    Yeah,but unfortunately Lloyd has to work with Mariner averages when he fills out the lineup card.

  6. Paul B on May 1st, 2014 6:26 pm

    110 pitches for Elias, and 10 ks. Heck of a game.

  7. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:27 pm

    Elias has looked great!

  8. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:28 pm

    Kazinski, maybe Lloyd sees the “3” at the beginning and assumes that’s a mistake.

  9. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:36 pm

    Almonte now in center, Saunders in right…

    I’m not sure Almonte is a better center fielder than Saunders. And no, I don’t think Saunders is all that wonderful out there either. But in any case Almonte is certainly better than Romero in the field!

  10. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:45 pm

    Rodney is warming up. Where’s the Pepto Bismol?

  11. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 6:46 pm

    I would think in the Saunders/Almonte positioning Saunders probably has the better arm for right field.

  12. Section329 on May 1st, 2014 6:47 pm

    Rodney makes me nervous.

  13. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 6:48 pm

    We file that right up there with “the sky is blue”, and “people need air to survive”. Just the facts of life. (laugh, cringe… lesser laugh…)

  14. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:48 pm

    Good point, MrZ. Saunders has the better arm.

  15. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 6:49 pm

    I cringe a little trying to imagine the throw Almonte would make trying to gun a guy going from 1st to 3rd… From right field.

  16. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:55 pm

    Of COURSE Ichiro gets a hit off the pitcher almost no one gets hits off of…

  17. Section329 on May 1st, 2014 6:56 pm

    True Mr Z

  18. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 6:58 pm

    I do love watching those arrows fly, much as I hate “getting to the archery range” with Rodney’s driving…

  19. Westside guy on May 1st, 2014 6:58 pm


  20. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 6:59 pm

    Okay the “super slo mo” of Rodney shooting his arrow was classic…

  21. G-Man on May 1st, 2014 6:59 pm

    His arrow-shooting is all wrong. He needs to have his two fingers bent when he pulls it back, then straighten them to let it fly.

  22. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 7:00 pm

    Holy crap, we’re almost back to .500… 12-14.

  23. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2014 7:00 pm

    G-Man, I think given Rodney’s accuracy issues I’m happy knowing he doesn’t actually know how to shoot arrows! (laugh)

  24. G-Man on May 1st, 2014 7:05 pm

    Mr Z, on second thought, I agree.

  25. Dennisss on May 1st, 2014 7:41 pm

    Really a big night for Saunders. It seems pretty clear that Saunders is a better combination of offense/defense than Almonte, Ackley, Gillespie, or Romero, at least based on track record. Hopefully he has played himself into starting regularly.

  26. Kazinski on May 1st, 2014 7:46 pm

    “Hopefully he has played himself into starting regularly.”

    At least until Lloyd gets Morrison back.

  27. Kazinski on May 1st, 2014 7:48 pm
  28. Dennisss on May 1st, 2014 7:58 pm


    Even if you think Morrison is your best outfield option (you don’t, I know), Saunders is second best. Really I think it should be Saunders and two players not in the organization yet.

    Gutierrez last played a full season in 2010, and it seems like we haven’t had a real outfield since.

  29. Kazinski on May 1st, 2014 9:53 pm

    Why would I think Morrison is our best outfield option?

    But LLoyd seems to like the Morrison/Romero platoon. I would have to say at this point Morrison/Romero in right and Saunders in CF is probably better than Almonte and anybody else in Right. So maybe Morrison is our best option right now.

  30. Woodcutta on May 2nd, 2014 12:02 am

    I still don’t understand why Romero is up with the big league team over James Jones. I have a feeling if Jones was a right handed hitter he’d be playing a lot of RF for the M’s right now. As a side note, Jones has 5 steals for Tacoma and the Mariners have 8 total.

  31. kaleyk on May 2nd, 2014 12:55 pm

    FREE THE CONDOR … he’s not great, but he is by far the best outfielder the M’s have!

  32. Westside guy on May 2nd, 2014 1:28 pm

    Fortunately Houston is running a right handed pitcher out there today – McLendon won’t have to make the “tough” decision yet.

    Much as I like Condor, it’s kind of pathetic that he’s probably our best outfielder. I do think he’d start on a lot of teams… but man, it just speaks volumes to the quality of our roster that there’s not a better outfielder in the mix.

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