Game 58, Mariners at Braves
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Gavin Floyd, 4:10pm
The M’s head south to face the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. Erasmo’s up to make this start, as we mentioned after Brandon Maurer’s demotion.
I’ve heard lots more M’s chatter recently in the national press, on local radio, and just in conversation than I’ve heard in years. Well, more POSITIVE chatter, anyway. People think the team’s decent, and could be better than decent if they can find another bat in free agency or trade. Everyone recognizes that starting pitching has been an unlikely strength. Felix is Felix, but many of us were terrified about the back of the rotation. Roenis Elias and Chris Young have been key components of the M’s success to date, and they’ve certainly helped cover for an offense that’s been a weird combination of lucky and terrible. Sure, Elias was good in spring training this year, but not as good as either Maurer or Carter Capps last year. Essentially no one saw as a steady contributor, well on his way to an above-league-average season.
But as nice a surprise the rotation’s been for Seattle, look what’s going on in Atlanta. Tonight’s starter, Gavin Floyd, is 31, and returning from TJ surgery. In his final few years on the South Side of Chicago, Floyd first underperformed his fielding-independent stats, then saw his fielding independent stats tank along with all the rest of his numbers. In particular, his platoon split problems were just too big to hide – it didn’t matter what he did to righties if lefties were approaching 2 HR/9 off of him. The Braves brought in the recuperating Floyd as well as such luminaries as Aaron Harang, and somehow, they’ve got the 5th best FIP of any rotation. Sort by ERA, of course, and they’re number 1. We talk so much about the Canos and the Choos of the market, guys who are clearly, obviously better than Chris Young and Aaron %$#ing Harang, but it’s hilarious to see this game frustrate attempts at small-sample prognostication. The M’s can use Endy Chavez at DH and get big hits from Willie Bloomquist to beat Scherzer and the Tigers. The Braves can pick up old, failed starters and watch them post brilliant peripherals along with sparkly runs allowed. This game makes no sense sometimes, and I think we’re all glad about that.
Tonight’s line-up is heavily left-handed, as it should be. Floyd’s overall numbers have improved across the board, but he’s still got platoon splits.
1: Jones, CF
2: Saunders, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Ackley, LF
7: Buck, C
8: Miller, SS
Tonight our 3rd annual draft preview posts – check it out after the game. The amateur draft kicks off this Thursday.