Gmae 33, Mariners at Athletics: the Nightcap
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Drew Pomeranz, 7:05
Happy, uh, Felix Day, right? I’ve waited to mention that until AFTER the M’s won today’s first game, 6-4. The hesitation’s due to Felix’s decidedly un-Felix performance. He wasn’t terrible, but this was the first time since August of 2008 that he failed to strike anyone out. It’s Felix’s third K-free game, behind that 5-IP game against the White Sox and his terrifying 4/18/2007 game against Minnesota in which he left with an injured shoulder. We’ve seen it before, so I’m not sure why I’m always surprised by it, but Felix is incredibly streaky. Think back to the run he was on in 2012 – the run that encompassed his perfect game. Over 14 starts, he had a 1.40 ERA with a K:BB ratio near 6. He followed that with six awful starts in September: 53 hits in 35 innings and an RA around 7. He had a great stretch in the middle of last year, before another bad September. This happens to all pitchers, of course, but because Felix is so *good*, his highs are just higher than nearly anyone else’s. And his lows are easier to spot and over-analyze. His velocity didn’t appear to be concerning; it was lower than his seasonal average, but it matched his last game in Oakland a month ago, which leads me to assume the system in the coliseum’s a bit cold.
Game 2 features a scrambled rotation thanks to this quickly-arranged double header. The M’s go for the DH and series sweep behind Erasmo Ramirez, just recalled for this start. Ramirez got some work in, and had a solid start for Tacoma against a good Las Vegas club, but his 3 HRs in 11 2/3 innings show that his HR problems weren’t solved over night. He’s playing in a ball park that’ll help that problem, but Erasmo looked lost in the early part of the year. Here’s hoping he’s improved his approach, particularly with runners on – his 69% strand rate needs to come up if he’s going to stick in the rotation.
Speaking of strand rate, the A’s starter, Drew Pomeranz, wins the Chris Young award for April. The righty, and former #5 overall draft pick in 2010, put up a 4.72 FIP in relief for Oakland but a sparkly 1.98 ERA. How does a guy with control problems (lifetime BB/9 of 4.55) AND HR problems (lifetime HR/9 of 1.20) put up a nice ERA, even over a miniscule sample? A strand rate of 98.6% is a good place to start. The big lefty is essentially a two pitch pitcher with a 92mph rising FB and a big curve ball. He gets a lot of vertical movement on the FB which, together with the phrase “Ex-Colorade Rockie,” explains the HR rate. The curve’s been an effective pitch for him overall, but his lack of a change-up or cutter means he’s been hurt by right-handed bats. He’s seen over 3X as many righties as lefties in his career, and that percentage stands to increase unless he can bring his .222/.378 career wOBA splits down a bit. Sure, you need to regress that, but unless the RHB number comes down (as opposed to the lefty wOBA increasing as their .217 BABIP rises), he’ll continue to be a replacement-level pitcher.
And there’s some evidence that the A’s are already changing him. For one, his FB’s suddenly getting more ground balls. I’d chalk that up to noise if it wasn’t for the fact that I *just* mentioned the same thing regarding Scott Kazmir, and while I didn’t mention it, I *could’ve* about Jesse Chavez too. Not sure what’s going on there, but with the A’s, the default assumption is that it’s intentional.
1: Saunders, CF
2: Romero, RF
3: Cano, DH
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Gillespie, LF
6: Seager, 3B
7: Bloomquist, 2B
8: Buck, C
9: Miller, SS
Given Pomeranz’s splits, this line-up is pretty sub-optimal. I completely understand if the M’s don’t think Hart’s up to playing twice in one day, but Hart’s the perfect match-up here.
Trevor Miller, Chance Ruffin and Jose Flores in the minors tonight.