Game 100, Mets at Mariners
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10pm
Ooookay, I know there was a game thread for last night’s game, and now I don’t see it. Hopefully, this one doesn’t get eaten. I’m tapping Jacob deGrom’s FIP in Morse Code here in case nothing else works…. [edit: somehow WordPress says it “Missed schedule”. Contents now rescued.]
OK, after taking care of Jon Niese last night, the M’s face a very different challenge in rookie Jake deGrom. Niese was a lefty ground-baller, exactly the kind of pitcher that usually gives the M’s fits. deGrom’s a righty with a GB rate around 40% in his brief career. Niese’s fastball has dropped to the 88-89 range, while deGrom still rushes it up around 94-95.
deGrom wasn’t a heralded pick out of Stetson, and his odds got longer still after undergoing TJ surgery the season after the draft. His stuff looked solid in 2013, with his velocity back to his pre-surgery peak, but he got knocked around a bit in AA. That said, he made great strides this year in the PCL – the velo was there, his change-up looked much better, and he even started to get ground balls. He ran a better-than-50% GB rate for the first time, and Cashman Field in Las Vegas is a good place to be a ground-ball guy. That said, he’s still something of an enigma. He’s striking out far more big league hitters than you’d expect. That GB% spike in AAA? It’s completely gone, and he’s back to being a fly-ball guy.
In the minors and (thus far) in the majors, he’s not run much of a platoon split. A curve and change-up are good ways to limit splits, and he’s comfortable throwing both to lefties. It’s just that how he GETS to those broadly-equivalent results is very different. To right-handers, he’s the extreme-GB% guy he was in the PCL. He’s at an almost 2:1 GB/FB ratio vs. righties, but against lefties, it’s just 0.76. Righties bash his sinker and change-up into the ground like they’re Derek Lowe pitches, but lefties don’t have the same issue. It’s somewhat remarkable that he doesn’t have platoon splits given how many more fly balls lefties hit. His four-seam fastball’s been effective against both, and that’s what 95mph will do for you, but it’s still a striking difference. So, despite the lack of observed splits, this isn’t a bad match-up for a lefty-dominated M’s team…even if they’re an org that’s struggled against plus-velocity and good fastballs in general.
Erasmo Ramirez returns, with Justin Smoak heading south to Tacoma. Ramirez’s control has made some strides in his recent PCL stint, though cynics would point out that his control *in the minors* has never been in question. The issue is can he avoid the mistakes that have cost him against big league teams. This is an important start for the Nicaraguan as the M’s need to decide if he’s in the mix for the #5 spot in the rotation long term, or if he’s more valuable as a change-of-scenery trade chip. That’s certainly selling low, but he could open some eyes down the stretch. Of course, given the M’s pitching depth and injury history, it’s probably much better to keep him in the fold.
1: Chavez, RF
2: Jones, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Hart, DH
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Bloomquist, SS
8: Ackley, CF
9: Zunino, C
Last night’s twitter highlight was the debate between Rob Neyer and Dave Cameron on the merits of promoting Tacoma DH Jesus Montero. As you know, Montero’s crushing PCL lefties, and Corey Hart’s not crushing much of anything. Seems easy, but as Dave points out, it’s really not. At some point, they need to figure out if Hart’s capable of helping the playoff push, but the M’s are more aware of Montero’s limitations (from my point of view, batspeed’s the big one here) than fans just checking the stats at MiLB.com. Still, it’s an interesting debate, and one Hart’s really helping to make a topical one.
And, on the off chance you missed it, here’s Ackley’s stunning, HR-robbing catch from last night’s game.