Game 91, Twins at Mariners

marc w · July 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Kyle Gibson, 7:10pm

Sinkerballer Kyle Gibson faced the M’s back in mid-May. He’d posted a decent ERA, but an awful K:BB ratio of 17:18, and while he’d put together some gorgeous starts (and he had another that night, holding the M’s to 1 run over 7 innings), he’d also had some implosions. Since that time, he’s straightened out the K:BB ration (it’s 33:10 since that pre-game post), but he’s still been incredibly inconsistent. He strung together three straight starts without allowing a run, going seven innings in each one, and then followed it up with a 2-inning disaster start in which he yielded seven runs. I’m not at all clear on which Kyle Gibson’s going to show up – the guy who pitched a great game back in May, or the guy who gave up six runs in two innings five days ago.

Anyone can get shelled, of course, but to me it’s interesting to look at just how good Gibson can be when he’s on. He throws a 92mph sinker, an occasional four-seamer, a change-up and a slider (he’s also got a curve he throws sparingly). The change-up’s actually quite a good pitch, and the slider has the makings of a plus offering, but he’s left quite a few of them up in the zone and paid the price for it. Still, his K/9 is the second-lowest in baseball, behind only his teammate, Kevin Correia. Gibson compensates by generating a lot of ground balls, which isn’t a bad plan, and he backs it up with an above-average pop-up rate. His change-up’s a ground-ball machine, but his slider gets plenty of infield-flies. This has helped him post a surprisingly low BABIP, which is then undone by a poor strand rate.

Minimizing hard-hit contact is huge for a pitcher, and as Tony Blengino’s demonstrated, it’s helped Clayton Kershaw become the unhittable monster he’s become, and it’s a big reason for Felix’s brilliant 2014 campaign. So far this year, Gibson’s results show very few hard-hit balls – low HR rate, extremely low LD%. But when you’re working down around the very bottom of the K% leaderboard, you start to see the limitations of contact management. Few walks and plenty of pop flies mean Gibson has to deal with fewer baserunners, but his lack of a put-away pitch means opponents get more rolls of the BABIP die. Again, it hasn’t mattered on many occasions, including the last time he faced Seattle, but it’s limiting his ceiling. The other limitation remains his platoon splits. Overall, lefties have hit a bit better against him, which is pretty normal. But the components are fairly odd: he’s not striking *any* lefties out, but they’re popping the ball up like crazy, and have trouble driving the ball. Thanks to his slider, he can actually strike out a righty or two, and they’re putting the ball on the ground at very high rates, but a few mistakes mean that he’s given up five of his six HRs to them this year, and nine of 13 in his career. It all means that he shows strong “normal” splits by wOBA, strong reverse splits by FIP, and average splits by xFIP.

1: Chavez, LF
2: Jones, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Morrison, 1B
6: Hart, DH
7: Saunders, RF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
SP: Elias

The big roster move of the day was the M’s sending Taijuan Walker down to AAA to bring in RP Stephen Pryor. As you know, tomorrow’s game was Felix’s scheduled start, but the M’s have pulled him back to Friday and a showdown with new Oaklander Jeff Samardzija. Lloyd McClendon told Jayson Jenksthe move was all about making sure Walker continued to throw; with the reshuffled rotation vs. the A’s, Walker wouldn’t pitch until after the break. This way, he’ll get two starts and then face the Mets after the break. Bringing in a reliever helps the pen that may be shorthanded, as the guy filling in tomorrow isn’t Erasmo Ramirez or Brandon Maurer – it’s Tom Wilhelmsen. As noted in that Times blog post, Wilhelmsen struggled mightily as a starter in AA Jackson. He moved directly from the Generals’ rotation to the Mariners’ bullpen in 2011, but he’s an intriguing starter candidate. He was excellent in that role in the low minors, and his arsenal and size could work in the rotation. But consistency and repeating his delivery have been issues in the past, so it’s hard to guess how he’ll do. Stephen Pryor missed essentially all of last year with what seemed like a minor muscle pull in his back. Eventually diagnosed as a torn lat, the M’s understand Pryor’s velocity still isn’t back to what it was when he first came up in 2012.

Andrew Carraway starts tonight for Tacoma, with David Holman going for High Desert and Carlos Missell for Clinton. Further down, Pat Peterson takes the ball for Pulaski and Dan Altavilla starts for Everett.


41 Responses to “Game 91, Twins at Mariners”

  1. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 7:13 pm

    This is not exactly the start I was hoping for from Elias.

  2. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 7:19 pm

    Paxton, Please get healthy soon! were gonna need you.

  3. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 7:20 pm

    Veteranny goodness wins the day over performance – Endy is leading off!

  4. californiamariner on July 9th, 2014 7:23 pm

    I would love to hear the logic behind hitting guys 1 and 2 in the order that aren’t good enough to play on a daily basis. I’m looking at Chavez and Bloomquist.

  5. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 7:23 pm

    Works every time!

  6. Dennisss on July 9th, 2014 7:25 pm

    Endy shouldn’t lead off, but it’s kind of sad that playing him instead of our regular left fielder doesn’t hurt the team’s chances.

    McClendon doesn’t seem to think that leadoff spot is too important..

  7. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 7:31 pm

    Cano is in a bit of a slump, I really hope he can pull out of it real soon before this WC spot slips away.

  8. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 7:34 pm

    Yeah, I certainly can’t complain about Endy starting instead of Ackley.

  9. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 7:43 pm

    This all feels way to eerily familiar, was it 2009 when we were talking about playoffs before we went on that long losing streak right before the all star break?

  10. SeattleSlew on July 9th, 2014 7:45 pm

    Who is this guy commentating with Blowers? He is pretty good. It’s so weird listening to someone who actually knows the game when you are used to listening to Sims.

  11. Dennisss on July 9th, 2014 7:48 pm

    Lloyd wants to use the bullpen for tomorrow’s game, but it’s looking like they may need to pitch most of this game too.

  12. msfanmike on July 9th, 2014 7:48 pm

    Aaron Goldsmith. Rizzs’ full time radio partner. He and Rizzs do a good job together. Give them a listen sometime – if you can.

  13. GP20 on July 9th, 2014 8:00 pm

    Aaron Goldsmith does a good job? Sorry, but he’s terrible and I’ve listened to him throughout his entire time here.

    He spends a long time setting up a story and then just tells a really boring story. He’ll start by saying “it’s amazing” or “it’s extraordinary” or “it’s rare” and then goes on to talk about the most plain thing in baseball. His voice is okay. But his baseball commentary logic is very questionable. He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about most of the time. Basically, he’s the Dustin Ackley of a broadcaster.

  14. SeattleSlew on July 9th, 2014 8:06 pm

    Compared to Dave Sims he is like Vin Scully.

    The thing is when you get used to Sims your standards get really low.

  15. SeattleSlew on July 9th, 2014 8:11 pm

    I can see how Blowers and Goldsmith commentating would get pretty dull but it’s still way better than Sims.

  16. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 8:11 pm

    I like Dave Sims.

  17. Dennisss on July 9th, 2014 8:14 pm

    I like Sims as well, and a good spat over announcers beats commenting about this game.

  18. juneau_fan on July 9th, 2014 8:14 pm

    When the team is playing like this…Yes, let’s talk about the announcers.

  19. msfanmike on July 9th, 2014 8:21 pm

    Ridiculous AB LoMo.

  20. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 8:56 pm

    Its kinda lonely in here tonight. Not a very fun game to watch, I’m really just hoping that this is a wake up call to the FO.

  21. bookbook on July 9th, 2014 8:59 pm

    A wake up call that the team isn’t ready yet, so it doesn’t make sense to trade future pieces for present value?

  22. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 9:05 pm

    This “plan” is not working out to well, and I personally feel that change is needed. The time of Jack Z has run its course.

  23. msfanmike on July 9th, 2014 9:16 pm

    If they trade from a surplus pool of talent that would be fine. Unfortunately they don’t have a lot of surplus talent to trade from. They have more holes to fill than their available “surplus”will allow them to acquire, but a decent outfield offensive upgrade will make the season more enjoyable to watch. Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, TBD? Someone out there could certainly help to at least make the offense more interesting. They have to fix the LF and DH problems pretty quickly.

  24. GP20 on July 9th, 2014 9:31 pm

    Wow, the guy talking about Lisa and Britney right now sounds like a huge creep.

  25. The_Waco_Kid on July 9th, 2014 9:38 pm

    They need to acquire hitting talent from outside the organization. The plan can’t be to wait for Alex Jackson and DJ Peterson to develop. I think if they acquired one reliable hitter, they could have an OK offense.

    Also, another shout out to Dave Sims. They can’t all be Niehaus. Rizzs knows baseball, but I can’t stand listening to him Rizzs his pants over routine plays. He makes every ball in play sound like it’ll be a double.

  26. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 9:40 pm

    Yeah, even though this likely wasn’t meant to be the year they go for it – they’ve won more than they could’ve expected and, because of circumstances, are in a decent position for the wild card. You can’t assume teams like Boston and New York are going to tank again next year – or Texas for that matter.

    I don’t want them to gut the farm – but they definitely need some upgrades.

  27. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 9:43 pm

    And of course Endy has two hits tonight!

  28. Grayfox3d on July 9th, 2014 9:56 pm

    Hey a run! i havent seen one of those in what seems forever! only need 7 more.

  29. The_Waco_Kid on July 9th, 2014 10:14 pm

    Westy, agree completely. There are cheap options out there. Don’t take a huge risk, but one or two low-cost upgrades could give us a good shot at the wildcard game.

    Also, keep bad-mouthing Endy. Works every time 🙂

  30. Westside guy on July 9th, 2014 10:53 pm

    If I was just more consistent – he could be hitting .350!

  31. LongDistance on July 9th, 2014 11:18 pm

    This is a decent year, even though the obvious weaknesses are frustrating, and will not correct themselves. The holes are not going to improve. But what a sea change. Is it only Cano, and maybe Lloyd that made the difference? Just brought in a whole new attitude? Maybe … as in May Be. And that being the case, you could wonder what would have happened with an outfield that wasn’t just crossing fingers and wishful thinking way back in Spring Training … Guti was the poster boy for that thinking.

    In any case, it’s nice to be able to say things like how much better it is (on every level, including mental health) to be a Mariners fan, at this point, than a Giants fan.

  32. MrZDevotee on July 10th, 2014 5:33 am

    Mariners are suffering from the huge clubhouse subtraction of “happiness guru” John Buck. They’re in mourning. Give them a couple weeks… They’ll be okay.

  33. jjracoon on July 10th, 2014 6:25 am

    Heard rumors that Ben Zobrist might be a possibility. I would definitely like that as one of the regular outfielders replacing Ackley.

    What would it take to get someone like him????

    Ramirez, Farquhar and Ackley??????

  34. Seattleguy527 on July 10th, 2014 10:59 am

    Can someone help me understand the “wisdom” behind pushing Felix back a day? I guess the theory is that pitting Felix against Samardzija gives us a better shot than using one of our other pitchers, but we’ll still most likely be underdogs.

    It’s not a stretch at all to think we may get shutout considering who will be on the hill and the fact that we haven’t been able to score against much lesser pitchers. Then throw in the fact that we will be using our bullpen all game tonight, instead of having Felix vs. Pino, and it just doesn’t make much sense to me. Felix pitching tonight certainly wouldn’t have been a sure thing, but we would have had a clear advantage. I’m not so sure we’ll have an advantage in either game now.

  35. HighlightsAt11 on July 10th, 2014 12:02 pm

    All those runs against Houston was just a pipe dream. June was fun. Back to reality in July.

    Felix pitching the Twins would have been a better chance for a Mariner win, than pitching Felix against Oakland.

  36. Westside guy on July 10th, 2014 12:24 pm

    Remember, though, those June wins are in the bank. The Mariners can play .500 ball from here on out and still end up with a good record – and a possible playoff spot.

  37. Seattleguy527 on July 10th, 2014 12:29 pm

    I honestly don’t know if you’re being sarcastic, Westside. Then again, I tend to read damn near everything sarcastically so maybe that’s the problem. 🙂

  38. Westside guy on July 10th, 2014 12:36 pm

    No I wasn’t being sarcastic.

    I was less sold on this team than a lot of folks – I thought it was a 78 win team. I still think they are a true talent 78-82 win team. But by hook or by crook, they are well over .500 at this point in time. They can play to their true talent level from here on out and still end up well north of .500.

    Additionally, a number of presupposed competitors like Boston, Tampa Bay, and Texas have unexpectedly sucked.

    So, yeah – I think they’ve got a reasonable shot at the wild card. But I still think they’re a mediocre team in bad need of significant upgrades at DH and LF, as Mike stated during the game. Heck, maybe at 1B too.

  39. sawsatch on July 10th, 2014 3:02 pm

    1- The bullpen certainly can’t continue to pitch as well as they have up to now.. They can perform well in the future, but there will be problems over the course of the season.
    2- Starters 4 and 5 are certainly not optimal.
    3-The team with the most runs wins. When your most productive offensive player is a 2nd baseman and not an outfielder, perhaps a small problem.
    Right hand hitting left fielders are out there, and not at a big cost. Even a straight swap of Mariners and Twins leftfielders would be acceptable.

  40. Seattleguy527 on July 10th, 2014 3:57 pm

    Yeah, now that I go back and read your comment again I’m not sure why I read it sarcastically. I guess I’ll blame it on a long day at work.

    And I completely agree with you — I actually predicted 77 – 85 before the season started. I’m not sure how they’ve done what they’ve done, but I definitely think they’ve overachieved big time so far.

  41. Westside guy on July 10th, 2014 4:55 pm

    Yeah, it’s not like I ever make sarcastic comments here…

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