Game 60, Mariners at Rays
Chris Young vs. Erik Bedard, 4:10pm
The M’s head to Tampa in the extremely rare position of being in better shape than the Rays. The M’s have won 5 straight, leading to lots of chatter in sports radio and elsewhere about making moves to add another bat. Kendrys Morales is no longer toxic, as the draft’s (almost) over. The M’s still have some trade chips to play if they want to, though to be honest, this spring has done some damage to the market value of guys like Nick Franklin. But look at Tampa – their playoff odds have tumbled, and as Eno Sarris wrote about today, they’re approaching the deadline looking more like sellers than buyers. We all know that David Price is on the block, of course, and it’s possible they could move him in July. There’s no big, obvious flaw here – their rotation’s middle of the road (though a bit unlucky) and their line-up’s worse than it’s been, but it’s not an obvious train wreck. But they start today 14 games back of the Jays, and firmly in last place of the AL East.
Today’s game pits two oft-injured hurlers against each other. Both Bedard and Young’s career record for innings pitched in a season came back in 2006. That’s not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but the AL silver sluggers for OFs that year went to Jermaine Dye, Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero. The pitching gold gloves went to Kenny Rogers and Greg Maddux, which describes essentially every year from the late 80s to, oh, about 2006 or so. Both Bedard and Young had effective 2007s, with just a few less starts/innings than the year before, but as M’s fans remember well, 2008 kicked off a period of almost perpetual rehab and reinjury. Both suffered serious shoulder ailments, requiring multiple surgeries. A weakened Bedard’s actually pitched a fair number of innings as a BOR starter/swingman, while Young’s surgery habit proved difficult to break.
Bedard’s no longer a strikeout machine, and his walks have crept up, but he’s been decent for Tampa. Young’s been shockingly good for the M’s, despite the disappearance of his most noteworthy (and unlikely) skill – avoiding home runs. Young’s FIP almost matches his career worst mark, set in an injury-plagued (duh) 2009, and it’s not just the K:BB ratio. It’s that he’s given up 11 home runs in just 10 starts and 63 IP. But those 10 home runs have produced a grand total of 12 runs. Eight were solo shots, and two came with one on. Great, so it’s the old saying about Ryan Franklin circa 2003 – Sure, he gives up HRs, but he’s such a smart pitcher, he only gives up solo homers. There are few less-complimentary comparisons on this blog than the dreaded Ryan Franklin one, but really, is the idea of a skill in avoiding HRs situationally any more or less ridiculous than a skill in yielding OF fly balls that somehow don’t go past the OF? Chris Young makes very little sense, and I’m just going to enjoy it while the M’s are hot and we’re all excited about the M’s new draft picks. Yay Chris Young! Yay Alex Jackson! Yay Mariners!
1: Jones, CF
2: Saunders, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Buck, C
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Romero, DH
8: Gillespie, LF
9: Miller, SS
SP: Chris Young
That’s five lefties in the line-up against the left-handed Bedard. It’s not crazy though; in recent years, Bedard’s run reverse splits, and even looking back over his entire career, he was never particularly dominant against lefties. In fact, it’s *righties* who’ve been helpless against Bedard’s signature pitch, his curve ball. Lefties have hit it fairly well, and both lefties and righties have fared fairly well against Bedard’s fastball.
I wrote a long post about the Rainiers nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network last night, and I awoke to see that it never posted; wordpress notes vaguely that it simply “missed schedule.” Yeah, I noticed that too, wordpress. Anyway, did you hear about the game? Did you watch it? If you were able to find CBSSN, would you watch another MiLB game of the week, or are you pretty much *always* going to pick a big league game (even if it’s not the M’s) over a minor league one? I’m really curious to see how MiLB’s deal with CBSSN works out, and I hope the regional sports networks pick up a few more MiLB games (the way ROOT did with the Portland Beavers several years back). I’ll fully acknowledge that the market may not be all that large, though I think it’s considerably bigger than it was even 10-15 years ago.
The Rainiers lost, though, to the Albuquerque Isotopes, 6-0. They’ll get at ’em again at Cheney Stadium tonight with Andrew Carraway on the mound.