Game 43, Mariners at Twins
King Felix vs. Ricky Nolasco, 11:10am
Well, at least Nolasco’s not a ground ball pitcher. After getting shut down by Samuel Deduno and Kyle Gibson, the M’s get one of the Twins HR-plagued fly-ballers. The Twins’ 2013 starters posted the worst FIP, the worst ERA, the worst K rate, and the worst strand rate in all of baseball last year, so the fact that the Twins committed a combined $73 million on two FA hurlers seemed reasonable. Nolasco was the big prize, signing a 4-year, $49m deal after a solid season split between the Marlins and Dodgers.
The righty has always posted solid FIP numbers, with a career 3.80 mark over 1363 career innings. But, like a poor man’s Javier Vasquez, his actual runs allowed have generally come in much higher. His ERA’s been higher than his FIP each year since 2008, and in several, the gap’s exceeded one full run in two of those years. It’s not like you can point to one specific weakness; it’s not all BABIP, it’s not all sequencing. He’s just disappointed. No one capable of posting 4.4 K:BB ratios over a full year (or two!) of work in a big league rotation should post ERAs of 5. If you’ve read this site at all, you know that ERA can be misleading and that Nolasco probably isn’t a replacement-level starter, which is what his RA would tell you right now. You can’t justify the argument that Nolasco is 100% responsible for what happens once a ball is put in play. But 1,300+ innings suggest that he’s probably not 0% responsible either.
Nolasco throws a 91-93mph four-seam and two-seam fastball. His primary breaking ball’s his slider, which was very effective for many years, but has been his Achilles’ heel this year. He’s got a curve ball, but his other weapon is the oh-so-trendy splitter. It’s more like Dan Haren’s in that it looks/acts like a change-up, so it’s not terribly surprising that he only throws it to lefties. Lefties have given Nolasco trouble throughout his career, and they’re destroying him so far in 2014, but it’s not the splitter that they’re hitting. That may just be noise, or the fact that he can’t get to the splitter because they’re crushing fastballs first, but even a struggling M’s line-up isn’t a great match-up for Nolasco (at least on paper).
1: Jones, CF
2: Saunders, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Seager, 3B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
SP: King Felix
Happy 34th anniversary of the Mt. St Helens eruption. It’s one of my earliest memories as a kid – going up to the attic and looking south at the towering ash cloud.
With Brad Miller struggling, it’s not surprise that the M’s are considering re-calling the hot hitting Nick Franklin. But Franklin’s been playing some OF recently, and Lloyd McClendon’s mentioned that positional flexibility’s a key to getting Franklin more playing time. After spending the spring asserting that the SS battle was an open competition, Franklin seems to be well and truly out of the running (though he could obviously be a factor for the M’s as a utility OF/IF). That’s probably got as much to do with Chris Taylor as anything, and I honestly wonder if they’d call up Taylor if he was healthy.
Erasmo Ramirez starts for Tacoma against Sacramento. The big story involving the RiverCats this morning is the rumor that they’ll switch affiliation to the other Bay Area club, the Giants, as early as next season. Don’t know if the A’s would take Fresno or if there’d be further swapping. Tyler Pike starts for High Desert. He’s walked four batters in each of his past five starts.
Taijuan Walker and James Paxton both had bullpen sessions yesterday and seem fine today. Sounds like they may do a simulated game on Tuesday.