Game 79, Red Sox at Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Clay Buchholz, 7:10 pm
Returning from the DL, the Mariners get a version of Clay Buchholz that has been rather poor this season. Of course, he has never been as good as everyone thought he would be. Back in the day, everyone said ace starter, top ten prospect in all of baseball, etc. This is a guy who has never had higher than a 3.5 WAR and has only exceeded 1.5 twice since 2008.
Injuries? Injuries. I’m looking at the Wikipedia page for him and seeing shoulder fatigue, torn fingernail, hamstring, esophagitis, neck strain, and most recently a hyperextended knee. When he’s healthy, he’s been all right, despite having a career K/9 of under seven, but he hasn’t been healthy often enough. This year, he’s had the highest walk and home run rates he’s had since his rookie season. I feel like I typed out something very similar for Peavy. This also happens to be a winnable game that may or may not be won and we may or may not sweep out the defending world champions. These are things that are actually happening, to the Mariners.
I was listening to the pre- and post-game content as I often do. Among the interesting pre-game content was that Endy Chavez said that one of his main reasons for being up here is to mentor James Jones in the outfield trade, defending, how to lead off, etc. James Jones was batting .277/.333/.386 when Chavez arrived. He is now batting .279/.314/.346. Whoops.
Among the interesting post-game content was that Lloyd McClendon, when asked about the work of the bullpen, emphasized that the team cannot continue to tax it in the way that it has. What was omitted, or I perhaps missed as I was paying attention unevenly, was the frequency with which it was happening, particularly in Erasmo’s starts. I mentioned that potentially dangerous meeting of his high walk rate with the Red Sox’ own high walk rate, and sure enough, we saw five walks in four and a third innings. Goldsmith, in that sly way of his, mentioned Erasmo’s scoreless streak in the context of him having allowed and stranded ~30 baserunners in ~20 innings. WHIP is a statistic of limited uses, but a 1.50 of that should not equate to a 0.00 ERA. We all knew that, though it was hard to take Erasmo out while people were talking about how he was “gaining confidence” and such as.
I emphasize all of t his because last night, Taijuan Walker threw a complete game shutout with 107 pitches. He had twelve groundballs to only three flies and a 8/1 K/BB with four hits allowed. If the Mariners were looking for a “statement” game, that was it. He’ll have his struggles, tax the bullpen himself now and then, and may even be not-so-amazing next time out on account of throwing so many pitches in the shutout. He should still be up to make the start next time the rotation turns around. I would be surprised if he weren’t.
The first step in this process (note: I wrote the above at around 2 pm, and the rest is tacked on at 4 pm) has been Erasmo’s demotion to Tacoma in order to get an extra relief arm in Brandon Maurer. Reports in Tacoma have had Maurer in the mid-to-high-90s and using his slider to great effect. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be talking about him as a relief candidate, but in an ideal world we also probably wouldn’t have the dozens and dozens of arm surgeries for pitchers this year and it would be harder to break through as such. We have needs in the bullpen and other arms who have handled starting better, so Maurer is in the ‘pen for now. I’d expect his tenure to last only as long as it takes us to get to that rotation slot again, barring weirdness. Baseball is so weird.
DH Endy Chavez
CF James Jones
2B Robinson Cano
3B Kyle Seager
1B Logan Morrison
C Mike Zunino
LF Dustin Ackley
SS Rad Miller
RF Stefen Romero