Game 39, Rays at Mariners

marc w · May 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. David Price, 7:10pm

Two of the biggest names in the AL East have posted incredible K:BB ratios and sparkling xFIPs. David Price leads all of baseball with his K:BB of nearly *10*. A bit further back, but still impressive, is CC Sabathia‘s 4.8 mark. Both have seen their strikeout rate increase and their walk rate drop below 2/9 (Price is now walking a Cliff Lee-like 1 per 9 IP). Price’s RA is 4.86 while Sabathia’s sits at a grisly 6.07. Thanks to Chris Young and Roenis Elias, we’ve talked a bit about pitchers whose actual runs-given up comes in far shy of what their fielding independent stats would predict. In David Price, we have the poster child for the opposite phenomenon.

Like Sabathia, there’s no mystery about this – it’s not sequencing, and while his BABIP’s higher than it’s been, that’s not the problem either. The problem is home runs. Sabathia had never run a HR/9 above 1 in his long career until 2013. So far this year, it’s nearly 2. Similarly, Price hadn’t run a HR/9 over 1 since 2009, a year in which he threw 128 innings and was a four-seam/slider pitcher. In recent years, he’s been a sinker/cutter/change-up guy, and his GB% started creeping up while his HRs allowed dropped accordingly. Price was excellent last year, as his new attack-the-zone philosophy produced a great K:BB ratio while he also limited homers. But something changed: batters, especially righties, stopped hitting his sinker on the ground. His GB/FB ratio vs. righties went from 1.8 to 1.2, and in a tiny sample of 2014, it’s dropped below 1. He didn’t pay for it in 2013, as fewer of those fly balls went over the fence; his HR/FB last year was the 2nd lowest of his career. That hasn’t happened this year.

Many point to Sabathia as a bounce-back candidate due to his excellent K:BB ratio and insane HR/FB% of 23%. Sabathia’s getting plenty of grounders, but whatever doesn’t bounce seems to leave the yard. While Price’s K:BB is even better, his HR/FB isn’t historically out of whack. It’s high, and I fully expect Price to post better runs-allowed numbers than he has to date. He’s an excellent pitcher, after all. But the question is what does he look like with a perfectly normal HR/FB of 10-12%? With a sinker that isn’t making batters top the ball, he’s going to give up some elevated contact. If he can keep that contact in the park, he’s an ace. But what if home runs are the price he pays for a 1.01 BB/9? Again: a big chunk of his awful HR/FB so far this year has come from the 3 HRs *lefties* have hit off of him. He still dominates lefties, and they still have a 2 GB/FB ratio. That may be luck. But his GB% has dropped on all of his pitches against righties, and his sinker – like all sinkers – is much more effective against lefties. I’m not saying that Price is going to end up like Cesar Ramos, whose sinkless sinker produced an offensive explosion for the M’s last night. But I think it could keep him from being a true #1. Hell, you could argue that, when he’s healthy, Alex Cobb has been the better pitcher. And Chris Archer’s neck and neck with Price right now, though of course that’s more a compliment to the Rays depth than an indictment of Price. In any event, I’m not going to cry about the M’s missed opportunity to acquire Price in trade.

Iwakuma can teach Price a thing or two about succeeding in MLB despite an elevated HR rate, and HR/FB ratio.

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

The Rainiers played an early game today in Las Vegas. It was school day, with thousands of kids packing Cashman Field, each armed with a vuvuzela. Please, keep Rainiers announcer Mike Curto in your thoughts tonight. With rest and with physical/mental therapy, he WILL get through this.

Cam Hobson pitches for AA Jackson today, while the enigmatic Tyler Pike goes for High Desert. Pike’s a top-10 M’s prospect, but a very odd 24:25 K:BB ratio isn’t helping his stock. Gabriel Guerrero’s stock is still rising, however – BP had some good things to say about him here ($).


127 Responses to “Game 39, Rays at Mariners”

  1. Eastside Suds on May 13th, 2014 9:57 pm

    Sorry…one two many IPA’s

    Stephen Drew

  2. MrZDevotee on May 13th, 2014 10:00 pm

    Wow, would have never guessed Price would win that game 2 innings ago.

    Fuck me. That hurt more than losing by 10.

  3. Longgeorge1 on May 13th, 2014 10:00 pm

    Maybe we should have gotten Price instead of Rodney as our closer

  4. Westside guy on May 13th, 2014 10:00 pm

    There it is.

  5. MrZDevotee on May 13th, 2014 10:01 pm

    I just read a story about Tommy John surgeons having to tell people “no”, because so many guys WANT it now, for minor injuries… Because they see guys come back stronger than before.

    They have to sit guys down and tell them “this is NOT a guaranteed success type of procedure”…

  6. Longgeorge1 on May 13th, 2014 10:02 pm

    If you see Kay

  7. californiamariner on May 13th, 2014 10:02 pm

    Cano’s leadoff walk wouldn’t have hurt.

  8. absolutsyd on May 13th, 2014 10:03 pm

    Do we know Kuma could have come out again? Last time he told Lloyd he was done as I recall.

  9. absolutsyd on May 13th, 2014 10:04 pm

    Fuck Buhner saying Price was better than Kuma. Kuma didn’t give up a single damn run.

  10. MrZDevotee on May 13th, 2014 10:06 pm

    Meanwhile… Oakland wins 11-0… On a 6 game winning streak… We’re 5 games back already since that last game when we could have tied them…

  11. jase411 on May 13th, 2014 10:08 pm

    Maybe one of Rodneys arrows will come down and pierce his pitching arm….

  12. Dennisss on May 13th, 2014 10:12 pm

    The best thing about that game was that Farquhar came in and made Rodney look like a hack. Three pitches, strikeout.

  13. msfanmike on May 13th, 2014 10:14 pm

    UCL injuries are (most likely scenario) overuse injuries as a result of year round baseball from a young age. Ligaments don’t usually tear from being under-used. Without pitch counts, there might be even more of them.

    The doc who invented the surgery (Jobe?) is currently trumpeting this theory.

    Probably had nothing to do with Kuma staying in or not tonight (he looked done) and it blows that he didn’t get the win, but the specialization era can sometimes outsmart itself … As we have seen over and over.

  14. Woodcutta on May 13th, 2014 10:18 pm


    That may be but of the 18 pitchers I seem to recall all have either torn or have a partially torn UCL. Those aren’t minor injuries and I tend to agree with Leo Mazzone that the issue isn’t overuse but not enough use. Elite pitchers are coddled on their off days when they should be throwing more with less exertion.

  15. msfanmike on May 13th, 2014 10:25 pm

    I think I will go with the surgeons theory over Leo Mazzone’s for now. Although Leo does know his stuff, he isn’t a surgeon.

  16. msfanmike on May 13th, 2014 10:31 pm

    … Was trumpeting the theory. Dr Jobe passed away earlier this year.

  17. Woodcutta on May 13th, 2014 10:32 pm

    Some argue that pitchers were used even more before this specialization came into baseball and there were far fewer pitchers on the DL with arm injuries back then.

  18. Westside guy on May 13th, 2014 10:37 pm

    It’s also quite possible that, before pitch counts, guys prone to arm problems were just washing out earlier – never making it to the bigs in the first place because they blew out their arms while still in the minors.

    We can throw anecdotes back and forth all evening without resolving anything.

    BTW having a cluster of cases in one season doesn’t prove much one way or the other. Clusters are expected even in completely random occurrences. If you toss a coin repeatedly, you’re probably not going to keep alternating heads, tails, heads, tails…

  19. Woodcutta on May 13th, 2014 10:51 pm

    This year’s cluster may not mean anything in the grand scheme of things but I am glad many in baseball are at least wondering if there may be more to the rash of injuries. I personally think there is more than one cause and that it may take some time before we know how to prevent future injuries.

  20. mksh21 on May 13th, 2014 10:55 pm

    I’ve actually read reports where raising the mound would take stress off the pitcher’s shoulder and to a lesser extent elbows. Reduce the number of injuries overall. For some reason guys in the pre 70’s could throw 300 innings plus without ill effect.

    This would have been a great idea 15 years ago when everyone was hitting 40 hrs (level playing field and save arms), but now that there is balance somewhat, maybe not.

  21. msfanmike on May 14th, 2014 7:36 am

    You are probably forgetting that those “guys” who threw in the pre-70’s likely had to walk to school in the snow – uphill – both ways – when they were growing up in the 40’s and 50’s.

    Back when men used to be men and training regiments were likely far superior than they are today.

    Ligaments tear from over-use and Westy’s comments about guys washing out earlier has a lot of merit. As a matter of fact, most of the theories on this injury have merit … but ligaments don’t tear when they aren’t being used.

  22. thedude1987 on May 14th, 2014 8:36 am

    Mike Curto? Can anyone explain? I found nothing.

  23. MrZDevotee on May 14th, 2014 9:20 am

    Is it too simple to suggest that the increased use of breaking balls has put additional stresses on the body? As well as the fact that pitchers have been throwing the ball increasingly harder over the past 30 years on average.

    That’s a LOT of additional stress on a piece of equipment designed to work tools in the hands, and put food in our mouths.

    It would be interesting to see the effects of cutters and sinkers, and 12-6 curveballs, as they relate to injuries. Before the past 30 years or so, you saw pretty much: fastball, curveball, changeup. Less rotating and snapping of the arm/ligaments.

    (no research was included in these armchair opinions)

  24. Westside guy on May 14th, 2014 9:22 am

    Dude – Marc was commenting on the fact that poor Curto was subjected to a bunch of Vuvuzelas. Brain damage almost certainly followed.

  25. sawsatch on May 14th, 2014 9:40 am

    Shouldn’t a pinch hitter have led off the 8th?

  26. msfanmike on May 14th, 2014 12:01 pm

    Come on Satch, what are you thinking … we had Brad “super welterweight BA” Miller leading off the 8th.


    Holy crimony carumba. He is going to be a welterweight within another couple games.

    With that said, I still think his automatic outness against Price would be more preferable than the Bloomquish automatic outness against Price. Tought call, either way. Way too little to choose from.

  27. sawsatch on May 14th, 2014 3:40 pm

    R vs. L?
    More reliable defence.
    Granted not a big deal either way.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.