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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

    Congrats Roenis!

  10. 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.

  11. 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”.

  12. 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!

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

    When you’re .500, W2 is a streak.

    Go M’s!

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



    Too easy … way too easy.

  15. 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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