Game 95, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · July 13, 2014 at 11:48 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Young vs. Sonny Gray, 1:10pm

Brooms out, M’s fans. After picking up wins against the A’s new acquisition and their breakout pitcher of 2014, the M’s path to a sweep goes through Sonny Gray, the ace of the staff. I know Jeff Samardzija cost them a top-20 prospect in all of baseball along with a fringe top-100 guy, but Gray seems like the clear #1 despite the fact that he hasn’t quite kept up the pace he set in his incredible 2013 call-up.

Gray pairs his 95mph cutter-like four-seamer with an effective split/change and a plus-plus curve ball. It sounds strange to say about a starter with an average fastball of 95mph, but the curve is far and away his best pitch. The pitch has astonishing two plane break, and it doesn’t rely on gravity for sink. He throws it around 81-82mph, and it breaks nearly a foot glove side relative to his FB and well more than a foot vertically relative to his rising FB. It’s a bit like Taijuan Walker’s, only thrown harder and with more bite. In his (brief) MLB career, batters have a .017 ISO on the pitch. They’re *slugging* .175. Sure, it’s his putaway pitch, and he throws it ahead in the count, but it’s a big reason why hitters have had such problems driving the ball against him.

Gray’s career batting line against is .223/.289/.312. This is why he’s had a great season despite a drop in his K% and an increase in walks. Unlike Shark, Gray’s faced more lefties than righties thus far, and unlike Shark, that’s not much of an issue for him. In his career, lefties have managed a .273 wOBA, essentially the same as righties. Not only is his curve a formidable weapon against lefties, but his change-up (which, looking at pitch fx, looks like a splitter to me) is almost as effective. Everything about Gray – from the cutter-ish FB, to the splitter, to the nuclear curve – seems designed to eliminate platoon splits, and thus far, he’s done just that.

When he’s gotten into trouble this year, control/command have been the culprit. Patience, M’s. Patience! And while the M’s don’t have a pitcher with a mid-90s FB or incredible hook, they’ve got a 7 foot tall wizard throwing an 85mph invisiball, so, you know, hit THAT, A’s.

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

The all-star festivities kick off today with the Futures Game at Target Field. M’s #1 prospect DJ Peterson’s starting for the US team, batting 6th and playing 1B. That’s not an acknowledgement that he’ll have to move off 3B, it’s just an acknowledgement that Kris Bryant may be the best bat in the minor leagues. Gaby Guerrero’s hitting 7th for the World Team and DH’ing.

Matt Palmer’s pitching for Tacoma today at Cheney. The Rainiers are riding a 3 game winning streak and actually passed Fresno last night to escape the division cellar. Tyler Pike’s starting for AA Jackson. Fellow Jackson prospect Victor Sanchez had one of his best games in the system yesterday, throwing 8IP and giving up 3H and 1R on 1BB and a career high 9Ks. Speaking of prospects, Taijuan Walker went 5IP for Tacoma last night, giving up 1R but getting only 1K. He told Mike Curto he didn’t have good feel on his FB.


54 Responses to “Game 95, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 12:09 pm

    I saw a tweet today that drove home just how much people tend to conflate offensive ability with defensive prowess.

    @TheDaveSimsShow Hey Dave is @CupOfLoMo quietly playing a Gold Glove 1st base?

    No one actually watching LoMo play first could possibly see him as anything more than adequate. But he’s hitting better than Smoak (wRC+ 80 – boy, he’s really setting the world on fire, eh?), so wow his defense is incredible!?

    It reminds me of Nick Franklin playing second, back when he first came up and was hitting the crap out of the ball – he kept getting kudos for his defense. Then, later, when he wasn’t hitting suddenly people started to notice the defensive miscues.

  2. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 12:31 pm

    And on the flip side Westy you have Brad Miller, who people constantly blast for his bad defense. Meanwhile, taking a look at fangraphs, his defense has been just a slight positive. Now, are the fielding metrics perfect? No. Do I think he’s a gold glove shortstop? No. But I also think he’s not nearly as bad as people like to pretend. I think he’s perfectly capable. He’s actually been hitting over the last month plus and if he does that all the time, people will react much less negatively about his defense.

  3. PackBob on July 13th, 2014 12:41 pm

    Hit ‘em when they’re down; praise ‘em when they’re up.

    These previews by Marc are simply fantastic. Always loads of great information about the opposing team, pitchers in particular, that set the stage for a better appreciation of the game.

  4. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 1:23 pm

    We will take it!!

  5. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 1:24 pm

    I like James Jones.

    I wish we had a better option than Endy Chavez though – his luck appears to be evening out.

    I second what PackBob said regarding Marc’s previews. And Jay’s as well! They are consistently great.

  6. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 1:25 pm

    Nice work from James Jones. Fun to have the speed on your side!

  7. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 1:42 pm

    According to Divish, Mariners in “serious discussions” to trade for Byrd. And he’s willing to waive no trade clause.

  8. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 1:51 pm

    Byrd for Ackley and Franklin. Where do I sign???

  9. Will on July 13th, 2014 1:53 pm

    Not big on Byrd, but don’t mind paying him $3-4 million the rest of the season as a right-handed outfield bat. The only problem I have is he’ll cost another $8 million towards the payroll next season, and has an option for 2016 that could easily vest for another $8 million.

    I’m still hoping that they’ll go after a rental like Willingham instead or something.

  10. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 1:54 pm

    Sonny Gray is good.

  11. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 2:00 pm

    Byrd isn’t even gonna cost as much as Ackley and Franklin.

  12. Jake on July 13th, 2014 2:01 pm

    Sims bench press count today: 2.

  13. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:06 pm

    Great start here. Let’s make it stick men!!

  14. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:08 pm

    Fly ball please. We’d even take a high chopper.

  15. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 2:08 pm

    Hmm… I have an aversion to 36 year old outfielders, but Jeff Sullivan seems to think Byrd still has “something in the tank”.

    UZR doesn’t like Byrd this year, but his overall track record appears positive.

    It comes down to what the Phillies want back.

  16. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:10 pm

    For crying out loud. Horrible execution.

  17. Grayfox3d on July 13th, 2014 2:11 pm

    cmon! can no one make solid contact outside of cano/seager? this is rediculous.

  18. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 2:15 pm

    Smoak proving there is no such thing as “clutch.”


  19. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:15 pm

    Oh my head hurts!! That sequence was such a pivotal moment in the ballgame. Really??

  20. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 2:16 pm

    The first two pitches to Ackley were fastballs practically right down the middle.

  21. Will on July 13th, 2014 2:17 pm

    Is this team going to give Smoak another 2,200 PAs before they figure out that he’s not the answer? I gave up on him a while ago; sick and tired of hearing him mentioned as a middle-of-the-order bat.

  22. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:18 pm

    Ackley shows every indication he has topped out and will be replacement level at best. Not good enough for a team looking to join the big boys.

  23. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:18 pm

    Smoak should be shipped OUT!!

  24. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 2:18 pm

    Saunders is on the DL, so Seager and Cano are the only two hitters on this roster that don’t suck to one degree or another.

    I like James Jones, but his wRC+ is only 88. And he’s the best of the motley crew!

    I know he’s not popular, but I would’ve preferred they kept Montero with the team. He didn’t suck during his time up here. I’d much rather see him at DH than Hart, or LoMo for that matter.

  25. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 2:20 pm

    Byrd should help – if that trigger is actually pulled.

  26. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:20 pm

    LoMo cant go anywhere unless we keep Smoak. And, Montero can’t play 1st, but I would rather see him hitting than Smoak anyday of the week. I’m done with him. One thing for sure: we will not be able to beat good teams 2-1 the rest of the way.

  27. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 2:24 pm

    I feel like Morrison actually hasn’t been bad since he came back. Maybe my expectations are just so low.

  28. Grayfox3d on July 13th, 2014 2:26 pm

    see Mariners, thats how you hit with RISP…. although Parino should of been out on that 8th pitch called a ball… ugh.

  29. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 2:27 pm


  30. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 2:53 pm

    We are so lucky to have Kyle Seager.

  31. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 2:56 pm

    Oh crap.

  32. Grayfox3d on July 13th, 2014 2:57 pm

    jinxed again! lol

  33. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 2:58 pm

    In the last 3 weeks, LoMo has stung a half dozen balls at least that ended up being outs. He is definitely an upgrade from Choak….er I mean Smoak.

  34. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 2:58 pm

    That was some rotten luck. Especially for Seager.

  35. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 2:59 pm

    Well that sucked.

  36. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 3:05 pm

    Imagine if the Mariners even had a top ten offense! We might really be something!

  37. Jake on July 13th, 2014 3:16 pm

    I remember seeing Smoak hit a ball opposite field once. It was beautiful.

  38. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 3:16 pm

    DJ Peterson just hit a laser double off the left field wall at the Futures Game. He has a nice swing.

    This scouting report has been brought to you by the Justin Smoak fan club. One member strong and shrinking.

  39. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 3:22 pm

    Sims just said the Mariners are rated statistically as the best defensive team in the AL. What statistics would he be using?

  40. Eastside Suds on July 13th, 2014 3:25 pm

    Just like Brad Adam said before today’s game that the AL West was the best division in the Major Leagues. (Not just the AL). I think maybe the NL Central might argue that comment. Just saying.

  41. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 3:35 pm

    Wow, they’re putting the tying run on base? And Seager coming up? I’ll take it.

  42. Woodcutta on July 13th, 2014 3:37 pm


    Apparently the same stats Bill Krueger used last night when saying Dellin Betances doesn’t belong in the All-Star game because he’s a setup guy and Fernando Rodney does because he leads the league in saves. He single-handedly tried to set baseball stats back 40 years.

  43. Jake on July 13th, 2014 3:40 pm

    Ha…yes, I heard Krueger’s idiotic proclamation last night too and laughed.

    Back in 2001, Krueger probably would have argued that setup men Jeff Nelson (who made the ASG), and Arthur Rhodes (who didn’t) should both make the team.

  44. californiamariner on July 13th, 2014 3:45 pm

    I think we all would have gladly taken a 2.5 game lead on the last wild card spot going into the all star break before the season.

  45. Jake on July 13th, 2014 3:52 pm

    Every ball Smoak hits is lazy.

  46. Grayfox3d on July 13th, 2014 3:55 pm

    It really bites to have such high hopes for a player only to see them fall right on their faces, like Smoak, Ackley and so forth. We used to have Cliff fricken Lee! and now we got smoak…The list goes on. Its the all star break, hopefully Z does something to help us. See you all next week!

  47. terry on July 13th, 2014 4:01 pm

    I’m really tired of Ackley.

    Lets see what Franklin can do.

  48. Jake on July 13th, 2014 4:12 pm

    So you’d be advocating for an outfield of Chavez-Jones-Bloomquist every day. Where would Franklin play? Haven’t they messed around with his development and destroyed his trade value, enough over the past two months?

  49. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 4:21 pm

    For some reason Franklin has not played the last few games in AAA. Does anybody know why?

    He certainly isn’t taking anybody’s (ANYBODY’S) outfield job anytime soon … Just wondering why he has been out of the everyday minor league lineup.

  50. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 4:48 pm

    The basic problem is: There was a significant need for the team to pick up an outfielder going I to the offseason, and Jack Z didn’t address it at all.

    So even if Saunders hadn’t got hurt, there was still no decent replacement available when Ackley continued to suck. And, with Saunders hurt, our “best” outfield might indeed be Bloomquist, Jones, and Chavez… which isn’t exactly going to strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

  51. Westside guy on July 13th, 2014 4:51 pm

    Mike, Curto reports Franklin will be in tonight’s lineup after missing five games. I haven’t seen an explanation regarding his absence though.

    Strike that – his side was hurting.

    Also, Ji-Man Choi will play tonight after also missing five games with some sort of hand issue.

  52. msfanmike on July 13th, 2014 5:08 pm

    Thanks Westy. Side hurting kinda sounds like it could be oblique’ish. There’s been a bit of that going around unfortunately. I hope Saunders can get on top of his injury woes – because they are starting to stack up a bit.

    The Team needs as much OF help now as they did in the offseason, which is pretty distressing. However, they have a pretty spectacular “first half” record – all things considered – which has been good to see.

  53. The_Waco_Kid on July 13th, 2014 6:35 pm

    I’d take Byrd for cheap. We need somebody. However, does it have to be a righty? We have a buncha lefty bats and we’re not hitting LHP, but we’re not hitting RHP well either. Seager and Cano are destroying righties, Saunders was doing well when he was healthy, after that our best option vs. RHP is Endy Chavez! We need to upgrade cheaply from any side of the plate.

  54. sawsatch on July 13th, 2014 7:41 pm

    By replacing Smoak and Ackley with decent bats, you’re not only getting decent bats, you’re getting rid of two holes in the lineup.
    By the way, Ackley showed why he came up as an infielder with that off-line throw.
    Note how the Twins teach the fundamentals starting from Single A ball.
    Jones was thrown out at third because all players were ready to act on multiple potential scenarios after the ball was hit. They could see that Chavez was going to score so….

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