Game 56, Tigers at Mariners

marc w · June 1, 2014 at 11:19 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Max Scherzer, 1:10pm

The M’s held on to a big game yesterday, holding off the Tigers to win 3-2. That’s big, because the M’s could’ve been looking at a sweep – the Tigers are the clear favorites in this one, with the defending Cy Young winner on the hill. Yesterday’s game was also another object lesson in the unpredictability of the game; the M’s won a ballgame against a clearly-better team despite a line-up that featured hitters with a 78 and a 74 career wRC+ in the top two line-up spots. So hey, just because the M’s are starting Endy Chavez at DH today, it doesn’t necessarily m-Wait, come back!

Max Scherzer’s took the leap from “talented” to “really, really good” in 2012. In that year, he picked up a new pitch – a curve ball – that he credits with helping him against lefties. He used the pitch much more often in 2013, and walked away with a Cy Young award. He’d traditionally been a fastball/change-up/slider guy, and while his change-up was effective overall, lefties hit him fairly hard. Last year, Scherzer blew lefties away; they put up a .283 wOBA, and his curve was an important part of his approach. He still goes to the change-up as his put-away pitch, but he often used the curve to get ahead of lefties. That, along with improved fastball command, allowed him to pitch ahead in the count considerably more than the league average (42% vs. an average of 36%).

Still, the idea that he became great by overcoming his platoon splits doesn’t fully explain Scherzer’s emergence. In fact, he improved against *righties* every year from 2010-2013. Righties had an OBP against him last year of .219. He’s had a K:BB ratio over 5 against righties each year since 2011, and he’s driven his walks down and his K’s up. The curve’s nice, and he’s clearly more effective against lefties than he used to be, but Scherzer’s great because righties have essentially had no chance against him. There’s no new pitch, no change in mechanics – but as his command improved, his slider became unhittable. Last year, righties missed on about half of their swings against the slider (vs. a whiff rate to righties of 28% back in 2009). As many point out, platoon splits aren’t a kiss of death or a sign of a future bullpen arm as long as a pitcher completely dominates one side. Scherzer’s doing that now, so he can be effective even when his performance against lefties regresses a bit (as it’s doing so far in 2014).

1: Chavez, DH (I’ve checked it four times. I swear it’s true.)
2: Jones, CF
3: Saunders, RF
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Zunino, C
7: Ackley, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Bloomquist, 2B
SP: Elias

Again, the M’s have serious injury problems at the moment, with Robbie Cano missing his third straight start. Nobody goes into managing with the intention of one day writing Endy Chavez’s name in the DH spot and handing that to an umpire in front of thousands of paying customers. I get that. But man, the M’s are trying desperately to stick around the wild card chase and it’s harder to take that seriously right now. In their defense, the Blue Jays have used Ryan Goins and Munenori Kawasaki this year, and they’re leading the AL East. The Rangers are sticking around despite injury problems that have forced them to start Josh Wilson, JP Arencibia and others in the line-up and Joe Saunders and Tanner Scheppers in the rotation. This isn’t *uniquely* embarrassing, but it’s embarrassing.

Jordan Pries starts for Tacoma today as they start their road trip in El Paso.


65 Responses to “Game 56, Tigers at Mariners”

  1. jak924 on June 1st, 2014 12:02 pm

    Just a pathetic lineup.

  2. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 12:19 pm

    I really don’t get the fascination with Endy. He was useful… back when he was young. But most of his game was speed and defense, and that’s a card he hasn’t held for a few years now.

    It’s funny how managers often seem to overlook clear decline in an older player. Maybe it’s because most of them played themselves, and likely didn’t see it in their own play as they aged? Denial is a powerful thing…

    On the bright side, I’ll probably miss most of this game – so there’s a clear indicator the Mariners will win!

  3. Paul B on June 1st, 2014 12:45 pm

    Lloyd is the village idiot.

  4. californiamariner on June 1st, 2014 1:18 pm

    Endy baby! Leadoff double!

  5. absolutsyd on June 1st, 2014 1:18 pm

    Endy leading off. Bad choice, good result. Which of course will lead to Lloyd (and others) thinking it wasn’t a bad choice. Oh well, still gotta love it!

  6. Paul B on June 1st, 2014 1:25 pm

    Dear Lloyd:

    Saunders is good. Play him more.

    A Fan

  7. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 1:39 pm

    So….honestly, did anyone think we would be .500 on June 1st with Paxton and Walker out. No Gutierrez, Cory Hart on DL, both Miller and Franklin being no factors, and #2 starter sent to AAA most of spring?

  8. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 1:49 pm

    Roenas is dealin!!!

  9. californiamariner on June 1st, 2014 1:57 pm

    Willie Ballgame! He just has a knack for getting on base and making things happen

  10. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 2:13 pm

    Really question the double steal call there for two reasons. One, Willie isn’t real fast. Maybe you do it if Jones or Ackley is on third. Secondly, if it doesn’t work, you take the bat out of Smoak’s hands AND he leads off the next inning, which is not positive being that he is a major base clogger.

  11. bookbook on June 1st, 2014 2:14 pm

    Yes, CaliforniaMariner. 23% of the time.

  12. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 2:16 pm

    WFB is WFB. Nothing new here folks. Keep it movin’.

  13. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 2:16 pm

    23% of the time, it works ALL the time!!!

  14. absolutsyd on June 1st, 2014 2:22 pm

    I don’t get Smoak. That looked like a perfect swing, and it doesn’t even get to the track. That looked like a freaking homerun swing. He does it all the time now. If he can’t hit the ball past the warning track, even on what appears to be a “perfect” swing, why is he here?

  15. absolutsyd on June 1st, 2014 2:23 pm

    >Willie Ballgame! He just has a knack for getting on base and making things happen

    Looking back and trying to decide exactly when this was said, and if it was a little sarcastic, or a lot sarcastic.

  16. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 2:27 pm

    Difference between mediocre hitters and All-Stars. The good hitters punish the middle zone fastball, hanging curve, and middle cut slider. That’s what make the good hitters good. Detroit has a solid hand full of them as we have seen. Smoak, Ackley, Miller, Condor and others do not. Cano and Seager are the only exceptions. I don’t see it getting better. I honestly think Smoak is as good as he will ever be, which isn’t good enough if we want to be relevant moving onward.

  17. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 2:31 pm

    5 innings of shutout ball vs. Tigers. That’s Grade A stuff!!

  18. californiamariner on June 1st, 2014 2:45 pm

    Willie Ballgame making it happen again!

  19. absolutsyd on June 1st, 2014 2:45 pm

    I’ve thought that about Smoak for a couple of years. It seemed like a few years ago though, when he swung and really connected, he at least put it over the wall. He just didn’t do it often. Now, he swings and connects and the ball goes 50 fewer feet.

  20. Longgeorge1 on June 1st, 2014 2:47 pm

    Ya know ya know ya never know

  21. Kazinski on June 1st, 2014 2:55 pm

    I think Lloyd has been watching old Seinfeld episodes, and is just going to do the opposite. If he ends up with a win today to match yesterday’s improbability then let’s just sit back and enjoy the sitcom, because you can’t take it seriously.

    But I think Kramer would make much better manager than George, Newman would be worth a shot too.

  22. stevemotivateir on June 1st, 2014 3:03 pm

    Smoak is better than the .219/.293/.383 line he’s now sporting. Good to see him take over clean-up since Hart went out. Really hope he stays there. He’ll break out any year now.

  23. Longgeorge1 on June 1st, 2014 3:08 pm

    .230 is bigger than .219, 100% of the time. Neither choice was what you would call good.

  24. Sports on a Shtick on June 1st, 2014 3:12 pm

    Gotta hand it to Willie, he’s had a good weekend.

  25. Kazinski on June 1st, 2014 3:15 pm

    “.230 is bigger than .219″, really? I’d be looking harder at obp or slg and defense.

  26. Longgeorge1 on June 1st, 2014 3:17 pm

    Hypothetical – you are the manager and you had the choice between Scherzer and Elias. Who would you start? Funny game

  27. Longgeorge1 on June 1st, 2014 3:18 pm

    He needed a hit, not a walk

  28. stevemotivateir on June 1st, 2014 3:21 pm

    Way to miss the point! Smoak shouldn’t even be here.

    But who’s hitting .230? Zunino? Seager would make more sense for the time being.

  29. Kazinski on June 1st, 2014 3:28 pm

    The sequencing just isn’t that important. But who is else is the option for 1st base? Its not Morrison, Hart or Montero, at least not right now. So I guess Lloyd is going with Smoak until he has a better option.

  30. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:29 pm

    Seager is our 2nd most “capable” hitter. Smoak should hit 5th or 6th. Gotta love James Jones though!!

  31. The_Waco_Kid on June 1st, 2014 3:30 pm

    My take on Smoak: he’ll never be the MOTO bat we all hoped for, but he’ll muddle through, and after we’ve fixed bigger problems, we’ll need to upgrade him. Maybe with Peterson?

    To Paul’s point, in April, when a struggling Saunders lost playing time to younger players on a crowded roster, I accepted it. But all that’s changed now, so it seems ridiculous not to play him every day.

  32. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:31 pm

    You hit the nail on the head Kaz. Who better than Smoak? There are no options. So we just hope he is hot when others aren’t and we know he can be streaky. Smoak is not the answer long term and we will have to upgrade at some point.

  33. msfanmike on June 1st, 2014 3:41 pm

    A masterpiece by Elias

    Great job!

  34. stevemotivateir on June 1st, 2014 3:43 pm

    That wasn’t a shot at you, Kazinski. But I do think the sequencing is important to an extent. The best hitters should simply be at the top. Smoak would not be one of them. It’s not the end of the world seeing him bat fourth and Seager fifth, but with so few decent hitters on this team, it really feels like Llyod isn’t playing the odds well. I do realize that may sound funny, since they’re winning this game.

    Right now, there isn’t much of a choice for first base, unless they wanted to move Ackley there. But what really annoys me is that they retained Smoak. I had wanted to see them make a push for Abreu or Morneau, but here we are.

    I would have a complaint regardless of where he hits. I simply don’t want to see him in a Mariner uniform.

  35. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:44 pm

    Elias is the real deal!! So impressed with him and what a great surprise for this team!

  36. stevemotivateir on June 1st, 2014 3:45 pm

    Eastside, everyone knows the options are limited right now. But they never should have been in this position to begin with, and they certainly don’t have to have him this high in the order.

  37. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:47 pm

    And. There you go. Seager vs. Smoak isn’t even a conversation. I’d rather see Saunders or Ackley’s than Smoak in that 4 spot.

  38. stevemotivateir on June 1st, 2014 3:47 pm

    It is nice to see strong pitching from the bottom end of our rotation shut down a great hitting Detroit club.

  39. Kazinski on June 1st, 2014 3:48 pm

    I know Lloyd isn’t an actual fucking genius because of the lineup he’s run out the last couple of days. But doesn’t he look like a fucking genius because of the results he’s gotten from the lineup he’s run out there the last couple of days?

  40. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:48 pm

    Totally agree Steve. Hard to imagine the depth of their patience with him. I don’t get it.

  41. The_Waco_Kid on June 1st, 2014 3:51 pm

    We know what we have with Smoak. At what point does he lose playing time so we get a look at people like Franklin?

  42. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:54 pm

    Franklin is a disaster at the plate right now. Horrible balance, horrible approach, no confidence. Just looks totally lost. Right now, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Smoak is better than Franklin by a long ways at least right now,

  43. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 3:57 pm

    Willie Bloomquist – the legend continues…

  44. Eastside Suds on June 1st, 2014 3:57 pm

    Way to go M’s!! Way to go Roenis! Going East at .500. Let’s stay relevant baby!!

  45. stevemotivateir on June 1st, 2014 3:57 pm

    No kidding, Kazinski. He’s made a lot of Wedge-like decisions from day one, but taking two from Detroit will overshadow anything odd.

    Eastside, I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be a bad idea to replace Smoak with Ackley and let Chavez play center or left? I certainly wouldn’t expect that to happen, unless Smoak got injured.

    I think the attraction to the power they think Smoak has has probably had an influence and given him more rope than he deserves.

  46. msfanmike on June 1st, 2014 3:57 pm

    All Managers look like geniuses when their pitchers throw up zero’s. Pitching and defense has always ruled this game.

  47. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 3:58 pm

    Elias esta en fuego!

  48. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 4:01 pm

    I will continue to complain about his playing time, in all probability, but I like Endy Chavez the person. He seems like a good guy.

  49. mksh21 on June 1st, 2014 4:02 pm

    This could be the most shocking win in terms of (lack of) talent on the field and result I’ve seen in a long time. Wow….

  50. msfanmike on June 1st, 2014 4:04 pm

    I think you will complain less about Endy – after Romero gets sent to Tacoma in a few hours – and Endy assumes the 4th/5th outfielder spot with a hopefully healthy Cano.

    Depending on the extent of Jones’ injury, they may need Endy starting for a little while.

  51. Kazinski on June 1st, 2014 4:05 pm

    We just had a rookie who never even reached AAA shut out the Tigers on 3 hits.

    Damn baseball is strange.

  52. mksh21 on June 1st, 2014 4:17 pm

    Every thing I read about Endy prior to the season said his legs were shot, glancing at his Triple A stats I have no reason to believe otherwise. But hey 4-0 win.

  53. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 4:17 pm

    So after Mike mentioned Jones’ injury, I looked on Twitter and saw he (Jones, not Mike) was removed with “groin tightness”. Hopefully it’s minor. I’ve gotten used to having a competent outfield that isn’t a black hole at the plate.

  54. Kazinski on June 1st, 2014 4:20 pm

    I hope Jones is better soon. When I was his age and had groin tightness it usually responded well to therapy.

  55. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 4:21 pm

    Over the entire 2013 season, Endy Chavez hit for less power than Brendan Ryan.

  56. The_Waco_Kid on June 1st, 2014 4:25 pm

    Eastside, true, just saying I’d like to see guys like Franklin play every day for about a month. Having them up here getting spotty playing time is pointless. It might be worth the risk to give Franklin an actual chance rather than sticking with Smoak’s mediocrity, or send Franklin down if you think he’s not ready.

  57. BackseatGM on June 1st, 2014 5:22 pm

    I don’t understand the need for so many of you to crap on Endy. The guy’s a bench player who you can plug in whenever you need him and he’ll give you a .270 or so BA and play plus outfield. Sure, he’s not in the long range plans but he’s not taking playing time from anyone else this weekend. And how many of the young guys we’re hoping will be in our long range plans can match Endy’s OB or defense anyway? When we’ve got 8 or 9 guys who aren’t on the cusp of either being sent back to Tacoma or DFA’d, then complaining about Chavez will make sense. Except, then we won’t need to use him.

  58. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2014 6:37 pm

    Come on everybody, let’s stop arguing and celebrate the 2 most improbable wins of the season, in yesterday and today. Helluva job to win yesterday and today. Doesn’t matter who was out there, they were our boys, the results count, and we stole two we had no business winning.

    It’s a good time to be a Mariner fan!… And man, it’s important not to miss those 10 days a season when they happen.

    It’s also fun right now to note that there are NINE teams between 27 and 30 wins in the AL right now… It’s a dead heat for the two wild card spots…

    Go M’s.

  59. HighlightsAt11 on June 1st, 2014 10:01 pm

    Congrats Roenis!

  60. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 10:11 pm

    Endy is not a plus outfielder anymore. He’s a semi-adequate bench filler when a corner outfielder goes down. And a .270 batting average with almost no walks and almost no power amounts to well below average – hence his 2012 wRC+ of 34 and his 2013 wRC+ of 68.

    Overall for each of the past two years he has been worth -1 WAR.

  61. HighlightsAt11 on June 1st, 2014 10:20 pm

    Some dude named Erasmo is pitching for the M’s in Atlanta Wednesday.

    Colonoscopy > watching Erasmo pitch

    Thus the Mariners have officially pronounced Wednesday as “a good day, if there are any, for all true Mariner fans to get a colonoscopy Day”.

  62. Westside guy on June 1st, 2014 10:43 pm

    Now, unfortunately, I have no rebuttal to the “who is Endy blocking” statement – because there isn’t exactly a surfeit of outfield talent in the organization. So please understand that some of my ranting regarding Endy is almost certainly less about Endy and more about my frustration with the org’s thinness in the OF ranks.

    Highlights, a TRUE fan would do both simultaneously!

  63. LongDistance on June 2nd, 2014 12:41 am

    When you’re .500, W2 is a streak.

    Go M’s!

  64. msfanmike on June 2nd, 2014 9:56 am



    Too easy … way too easy.

  65. BackseatGM on June 2nd, 2014 12:05 pm

    Westside, we’re talking about a sub, a guy we brought up to help in the outfield while we have a spot open due to Maurer being sent out. Of course he’s below average. The problem we have is that half the starting lineup is below average. So, yeah, I get your point that your (everybody’s) ranting is more about the roster than Endy himself. I just happen to like the guy because he accepts his role and always produces when he gets thrown in there. No longer a plus outfielder? He sure looks like a plus on this team (props to Gillespie, though – he’s looked solid out there). Lack of power? Nothing new around here.

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