Game 45, Astros at Mariners

marc w · May 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Jarred Cosart, 7:10pm

I’ve written plenty about Cosart before; depending on what you think of these write-ups, the unbalanced schedule is either a blessing or a curse. So far, we’ve talked about the fact that he throws a very hard cutter (95mph) and that he generates tons of grounders. He doesn’t have much in the way of platoon splits, but he also doesn’t have much in the way of command. It’s one of the reasons everyone pegged him as a big regression candidate this year, and indeed, his ERA’s moved from 1.95 in his brief 2013 to 4.41 so far this year. That’s not exactly a great feat of prognosticating skill, of course – basically no one has a true-talent 1.95 ERA, and guys who give up more walks than Ks DEFINITELY don’t.

So his strand rate and HR/FB have both settled back around league average, and thus his runs allowed have followed. But there’s still something interesting going on here – something beyond the whole “95mph cutter.” One of the reasons he seemed like such a lucky pitcher was that his BABIP in 2013 was just .246. This year, with everything that had been exceptional looking more like league-average, his BABIP is still just .267. Remember, Cosart’s a heavy GB pitcher – he was at 54.5% last year and he’s regressed alllll the way down to 54.4% this season. How can a right-handed pitcher getting tons of ground balls (which have a higher BABIP than fly balls) post a really low BABIP?

The first possibility is that it’s luck and/or team/park effects. Marwin Gonzalez is not going to win any gold glove awards, so I’m not buying the team thing. It *could* be luck, as he didn’t post particularly amazing BABIP numbers in the minors. If you’re willing to speculate, though, there could be a few other things at play. We know, for example, that hitters post lower BABIPs against higher pitch velocities. Pace what the color commentator is saying, the pitcher doesn’t “supply all of the power” – it’s easier to hit the ball hard against someone throwing 85 than 95, which isn’t really groundbreaking when you put it in those terms. Moreover, pitchers have some ability to control how hard the ball is hit. Yes, this is counter to standard DIPS theory, which is still more right than wrong on the population as a whole. But then you’ve got your exceptions – the Moyers, the Wakefields, maybe the Washburns – who post lower-than-expected BABIPs time after time. As Mariano Rivera had the lowest expected BABIP of any one in this brief study of hit fx data from 2008, it’d be interesting to know if batters have trouble hitting cutters hard, just due to their movement (or the delta between how a cutter moves and a four- or two-seamer moves). Cosart better hope that they do, and that his BABIP “skill” is real, because it’s looking like one of the few statistical indicators of lasting success on his fangraphs page. Sure, I know: 95mph cutters. That’s worth something too, but right now, he’s not striking many out, he’s walking far too many, and the HR rate’s normal-ish. That cutter has to DO something for him, and maybe it is.

Line-up:
1: Jones, CF
2: Saunders, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Ackley, LF
7: Romero, DH
8: Franklin, SS
9: Zunino, C
SP: Elias

Nick Franklin at SS tonight; interesting move, as Franklin had played OF in recent (minor league) games. To be fair, McClendon said he’d get some time at SS and just about everywhere else when they re-called him, so there’s nothing too surprising about it…especially when the incumbent and primary back-up have been god awful at the plate.

The M’s split the two-game mini-series in Texas and look like they’re capable of sticking right with the Rangers for a while. Today, that goal got a bit easier, as Prince Fielder opted to have surgery on a herniated disk, putting him out for the season. Look, there’ve been some deals that the sabermetric community has slammed that have turned out great – most of them involve Raul Ibanez, strangely. But here’s one that the statheads pretty much nailed. No one saw a serious back injury as the problem, but the numbers were slipping and the contract looked ominous. The Rangers have plenty of depth at most positions, but the drop-off between Fielder (on paper) and Mitch Moreland (on paper) is severe. The Rangers still have a lot more talent waiting to come back from injury, but even THAT depth took a hit today as Jurickson Profar re-injured his shoulder. That set-back will cost him plenty more time, as the Rangers are going to be cautious with such a valuable young player. Schadenfreude is natural and all, and it’s amazing to think that the M’s are essentially neck and neck, and pulling ahead, from the team that’s won so many games recently, and the team that employs Beltre and Darvish, but holy crap it’s been a bad year in Texas. I always said the M’s had a huge gap in true talent to close with Texas, as the team wasn’t just good in 2011-12, they had another wave of talent ready to step up. For a number of reasons, that ship crashed on attrition shoals, and while they can be really good, they’re at a crossroads now.

The intriguing Jordan Pries starts tonight against ex-Astro Lucas Harrell at Cheney Stadium.

Comments

63 Responses to “Game 45, Astros at Mariners”

  1. Paul B on May 22nd, 2014 7:23 pm

    If I only watched Mariners games, I would think the Astros were a good team.

  2. Paul B on May 22nd, 2014 7:29 pm

    I wonder why Romero is DH instead of Gillespie.

  3. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:00 pm

    Man, Elias is not having a good game so far.

  4. Paul B on May 22nd, 2014 8:04 pm

    Not sharp at all. Been very wild.

  5. stevemotivateir on May 22nd, 2014 8:12 pm

    Wow. Jones just wont let off. He’s hit in every start he’s made.

    He doesn’t lose credit for hits against the Astros, does he?

  6. juneau_fan on May 22nd, 2014 8:18 pm

    We’re overwhelmed by the amazingness that is this game. We’re struck dumb.

  7. Paul B on May 22nd, 2014 8:18 pm

    I was looking at baseball prospectus in a book store yesterday, and Jones was way down thejr Mariner prospect list. Like in the 20s. I find it hard to believe the Mariners have 20+ players better than Jones.

  8. californiamariner on May 22nd, 2014 8:20 pm

    I know Ackley isn’t always pretty out there and Almonte definitely made mistakes. But it sure has been nice this year to pretty much always have 3 guys in the outfield that can run and are fairly athletic.

  9. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:21 pm

    I know Jones will regress, but he’s been such a pleasure to watch after that month plus of Almonte…

    BTW Steve, I was going to tell you in case you’re interested – I had bought the $19.99 Gameday radio on MLB.com like I do every season. Well I watched a couple of the free “game of the day” video feeds… Then I got an email offering me MLB.tv premium for 50% off ($57 for the rest of the season)! It specifically mentioned I received the offer because I’d watched the freebies. I know they’re trying to suck me in and hoping I’ll continue at full price next season, but anyway – if you’re at all interested in possibly getting a half price offer on the tv feed, you might want to do what I did and see what happens.

  10. BoomBoom on May 22nd, 2014 8:27 pm

    James Jones is one of those three syllable ath-a-letes. Man, is he fun to watch.

  11. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:27 pm

    I don’t get how Jones’ defense is “average” according to FanGraphs but Almonte’s was plus. Jones looks better and doesn’t make the silly route mistakes, at least to my eye.

  12. stevemotivateir on May 22nd, 2014 8:28 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Westy. I found an alternative way to catch games, but I would buy it for the right price. It’s nice to have the extras.

  13. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:29 pm

    “Alternative” = strikeout.co? ;-) I’ve watched there a couple times…

  14. stevemotivateir on May 22nd, 2014 8:30 pm

    Yeah, Jones, without question, looks a lot better in center than Almonte. He looks a lot more comfortable as well.

  15. stevemotivateir on May 22nd, 2014 8:32 pm

    Ha! I actually have more than one source.

    But yes, strikeout is one of them.

  16. Kazinski on May 22nd, 2014 8:32 pm

    Maybe UZR gives extra credit for creative routes.

  17. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:33 pm

    Hehehe Kazinski.

  18. Kazinski on May 22nd, 2014 8:36 pm

    Actually Ackley disproved that last year. He was hard to watch in CF.

  19. stevemotivateir on May 22nd, 2014 8:39 pm

    UZR doesn’t like beards, though. So creativity should still be on the table.

  20. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 8:41 pm

    Great pre-game write up, Marc. As always … It’s excellent and detailed

    Thorough!

    Spot on!!

    And, it’s game #46.

  21. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:46 pm

    It’s game 46, but it only feels like 45!

    Unlike past seasons when game 46 felt like 96…

  22. BoomBoom on May 22nd, 2014 8:46 pm

    I second mike’s sentiments, Marc. We’re lucky to have such in depth previews and quality writing, too.

    Thanks!

  23. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 8:48 pm

    Condor’s UZR has been going up since he shaved a week or two ago.

  24. californiamariner on May 22nd, 2014 9:28 pm

    Thankfully the Astros butchered that and the bunt is off!

  25. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 9:33 pm

    Zunino with a strikeout … Stunning!

    Pitchers do not have to throw him strikes to get him out … And I’m kinda surprised he ever sees one.

  26. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:33 pm

    Zunino is more talented than Olivo, but he shares Miguel’s strike zone judgement.

    If he doesn’t learn how to lay off that low-and-away pitch, it’s all he’s going to be seeing (at least from competent pitchers).

  27. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:34 pm

    Hehe Mike was thinking the same thing.

  28. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:36 pm

    Lloyd is really big on his lefty-righty match ups.

  29. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 9:36 pm

    Curious substitution, here. I sure hope it works.

  30. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:37 pm

    Bet he wishes he had Kendrys Morales right now. ;-)

  31. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 9:39 pm

    Man, someone needs to come through.

    NOW, please

  32. Eastside Suds on May 22nd, 2014 9:40 pm

    This is painful to watch

  33. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:40 pm

    Wish I knew how to find minor league splits – I’d like to know why Mac substituted there.

  34. Eastside Suds on May 22nd, 2014 9:40 pm

    C’mon condor!!!

  35. Eastside Suds on May 22nd, 2014 9:41 pm

    Wow….some bad luck there

  36. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:43 pm

    I found them but I don’t get it. Jones has splits but nothing awful.

    http://minorleaguecentral.com/player?pid=571825&split=3000&type=batter

    YES! CONDOR BEATS IT OUT!

  37. absolutsyd on May 22nd, 2014 9:44 pm

    Thank god. I was about to puke if we didn’t get a run after loading the bases with no damn outs. Great AB Saundo!

  38. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 9:44 pm

    Saunders staggered his last step for some reason … But still beat it.

    Diving, thought about diving … okay Blo. Sure looked weird, but we will take it.

  39. Eastside Suds on May 22nd, 2014 9:48 pm

    Speed kills man. Can’t coach it and it never goes in a slump

  40. californiamariner on May 22nd, 2014 9:48 pm

    Really tried to blow that situation, but hey we’ll take it!

  41. californiamariner on May 22nd, 2014 9:49 pm

    It just continues to amaze/frustrate me that Lloyd thinks Medina is the “8th inning guy”

  42. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:49 pm

    Watching it, I thought maybe Saunders was worried about his legs getting tangled with the pitcher’s.

  43. Kazinski on May 22nd, 2014 9:51 pm

    The replay clearly showed Saunders didn’t “stagger” he didn’t pick his foot up purposely so he’d catch his toe on the front of the bag so he wouldn’t have to put his foot down. That was his whole margin beating the pitcher.

  44. matthew on May 22nd, 2014 9:51 pm

    Lloyd is officially Box of Rocks 2.

  45. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:53 pm

    I bet you’re right Kazinski.

  46. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 9:53 pm

    No multi-error plays please, Cole.

  47. Kazinski on May 22nd, 2014 9:54 pm

    Medina is in, but at least Wilhelmsen is up.

  48. Kazinski on May 22nd, 2014 9:55 pm

    Blowers pointed out the slide step on the 3rd or 4th replay. Its great having a player with speed and smarts like the Condor.

  49. Eastside Suds on May 22nd, 2014 9:58 pm

    Funky Cold Medina! (Only call him that when he does well)

  50. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 9:59 pm

    I’m not convinced that the amount of slowing necessary to do that slide step doesn’t negate any benefit, but it worked so I’ll just say Condor is in every way a genius.

  51. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 10:00 pm

    Good inning by Medina.

    Four words used in succession too infrequently.

  52. BoomBoom on May 22nd, 2014 10:01 pm

    Condor is toe-tally player of the game.

  53. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 10:02 pm

    I laughed and groaned at the same time when I read that, BoomBoom.

  54. msfanmike on May 22nd, 2014 10:04 pm

    Smoak is duty bound to have a career year one of these seasons

    And hit .245

  55. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 10:04 pm

    Also he’s toe-riffic.

  56. Kazinski on May 22nd, 2014 10:10 pm

    Westy, he wouldn’t slow down until the next step. I’ll bet he doesn’t mind getting two rbi’s on an infield single.

    We may not put much stock in rbi’s, but you can bet the players still care.

  57. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 10:14 pm

    RBIs are essential for winning a game! And I’m sure you’re right… most non-Votto players mainly look at the old stats.

    I do think they’re important… as a team stat. ;-)

  58. Eastside Suds on May 22nd, 2014 10:19 pm

    Great start to the home stand. Let’s string a few W’s together! Go M’s!!

  59. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 10:20 pm

    Another easy save! I could get used to that.

  60. Westside guy on May 22nd, 2014 10:23 pm

    Haha, sounds like Saunders sorta decided on that slide step after he miss stepped immediately before.

  61. californiamariner on May 22nd, 2014 10:24 pm

    Hey, A’s also lost today. Feels like forever since a game was gained on them.

  62. Goodbyfiggins on May 22nd, 2014 10:27 pm

    Great win!

  63. jhum on May 23rd, 2014 7:21 am

    James Jones looks like another Jones I remember watching in centerfield…

    Rrrruuuupppppeeeerrrrtttt…

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