Game 103, Orioles at Mariners

marc w · July 25, 2014 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Kevin Gausman, 7:10pm

This is as high-profile a pitching match-up you’ll see in a game involving Baltimore. Kevin Gausman went #4 overall in the 2012 draft and his fastball averages over 96mph. He pairs it with the au currant splitter and the occasional slider, and despite less-than-stellar minor league numbers, he shot through the system, reaching the big leagues a bit under one year after being drafted.

That said, he’s not in that Sonny Gray/Jose Fernandez category of young pitchers who’ve made an immediate big league impact. He’s thrown 90 innings thus far in his career, and while the FIP’s pretty good, he’s been a bit over replacement level by RA9. Gausman just allows more runs than anyone with a 96mph fastball and a working splitter should. To break his career down into even less statistically significant chunks, he was burned by the long ball in 2013, but changed his approach and hasn’t had much of a problem this year. However, his command’s taken a step back in 2014, and coupled with a high BABIP, even the lack of HRs can’t push his RA9/ERA under 4.

The big problem looks like his strand rate, which cracked 70% this year, but remains mediocre. In this respect, he reminds me of Brandon Morrow, who struggled with runners on after moving to the rotation, and thus disappointed relative to his FIP (and his velocity). Of course, that problem abruptly went away in 2012, when Morrow flashed elite-level talent before falling victim to injury. Like Morrow, Gausman doesn’t have big platoon splits if you just look at his raw results. That’s pretty much what you’d expect, given that Gausman’s got a splitter to keep lefties at bay. But those narrow splits are partially the product of some weird BABIP issues against righties. Like some other pitchers we’ve looked at recently, Gausman’s a very different pitcher against lefties. Against righties, he walks few and gets an above-average number of grounders. Against lefties, he’s a bit more wild, and gives up Phil Hughes-like fly ball rates. Lefties elevate the ball, and thus, lefties have hit HRs against him.

And, as it happens, the M’s have a new lefty in their line-up to try to take advantage of that fact. Welcome back, Kendrys Morales. The M’s acquired the DH from Minnesota in exchange for reliever Stephen Pryor, who simply never looked the same after his torn lat muscle last April. Minnesota wasn’t going to get much for Morales, as he’s hitting just .234/.259/.325 thus far in the Twin Cities, good for a 57 wRC+. What they got was some salary relief and the ability to take a look at younger players in what’s become a lost season.

Morales isn’t *this* bad, as we all know. His rest-of-season ZiPS projection at Fangraphs is much better – a 105 wRC+. which is a far sight better than what the M’s have received from the DH spot, and a bit better than the 98 that ZiPS sees Corey Hart regressing towards. Kendrys is just 31, about a full year younger than Hart; neither of them are really at the age when skills just fall apart. Of course, plenty of hitters *have* actually lost it around 31, and the fact that Kendrys Morales’ top bbref comparison is Erubiel Durazo is not pleasant. Predictably, acquiring Morales pushes Montero back to AAA Tacoma.

It’s been a very interesting 24-48 hours in Mariner-land.

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

The M’s talked about platooning Morrison and Hart at 1B, and with a righty on the hill, the M’s now get eight lefties into the line-up without doing weird stuff like playing Endy Chavez at DH. Endy Chavez is still leading off, so it’s not sunshine, rainbows and lollipops here.

The combination of Miller and Taylor allow the M’s to mix and match a bit more, and play the platoon advantage more than they did previously, but as with previous M’s teams, the problem isn’t that they’ve got tons of hitters facing same-handed pitching, the problem is that their hitters haven’t been good. This was always the issue with Justin Smoak, who obviously had the platoon advantage every PA, but couldn’t exactly turn that into a REAL advantage. The two best hitters on the M’s are lefties, and they’ll struggle – at least at the margins – against lefties until Zunino becomes a more complete hitter, until Kendrys Morales starts hitting like it was 2009, or Corey Hart wakes up.

King Felix is awesome.

Matt Palmer starts tonight for the surging Rainiers as they welcome the Sacramento Rivercats. If you can’t go see Felix, maybe see Matt Palmer the red hot Rainiers. Tyler Pike takes the mound for Jackson, Lars Huijer for High Desert, and Everett’s got a doubleheader featuring Dan Altavila in game one and big-time prospect Luiz Gohara in game two.


118 Responses to “Game 103, Orioles at Mariners”

  1. californiamariner on July 25th, 2014 10:23 pm

    It seems like this season is just slipping (or already slipped) away. Wonder if Jack makes any panic moves soon.

  2. MrZDevotee on July 25th, 2014 10:24 pm

    I bet the fireworks won’t light…

  3. Grayfox3d on July 25th, 2014 10:24 pm

    Cmon Morales, be the hero!

  4. Jake on July 25th, 2014 10:25 pm

    Christ..this game is going to end on an overturned extra replay call.

  5. JMB on July 25th, 2014 10:26 pm

    I think he was out on both ends, honestly.

  6. JMB on July 25th, 2014 10:27 pm

    Right call, sadly.

  7. msfanmike on July 25th, 2014 10:27 pm

    Replay … Awesome.

  8. Westside guy on July 25th, 2014 10:28 pm

    There’s one time where Cano perhaps could’ve hustled a bit more down the line.

  9. ripperlv on July 25th, 2014 10:29 pm

    Well we knew before the season we needed offense and couldn’t spring for Cruz. We’ve known all season we needed offense and finally spring for a struggling Morales. I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed. It was just a matter of time before the stats caught up. Fire JZ!

  10. MrZDevotee on July 25th, 2014 10:29 pm

    I was hoping we wouldn’t relinquish the whole wildcard thing so QUICKLY after the break… Y’know, play .500 ball for awhile, tease us with hope…

    But no… We’ve played 6 games under .500 SINCE the All-Star break… In just 8 games.

  11. Grayfox3d on July 25th, 2014 10:29 pm

    So this is what a 90 million dollar payroll gets ya huh.

  12. Westside guy on July 25th, 2014 10:30 pm

    Well, a 90 million dollar payroll in the hands of a sub-par GM, anyway.

  13. MrZDevotee on July 25th, 2014 10:31 pm

    I thought Felix was aleady at 13 before tonight? Math is not my strong suit. Next start he’ll set the record.

  14. Westside guy on July 25th, 2014 10:32 pm

    On the bright side, maybe a prolonged losing streak would finally convince ownership it’s time for a change at the helm.

    And I don’t mean right now – I mean if they continue to tank. Right now they are still in the hunt, even though they are currently fading rather quickly.

  15. MrZDevotee on July 25th, 2014 10:39 pm

    I’m just blowing hot air… We have the opportunity to win just about every game, given our pitching. We just have to get back to scoring 3+ runs, instead of 2 runs a game or less… Although even 2 runs would have won this one in 9 innings.

    Two of the Angels games were completely winnable… Miller’s hit goes 1 foot higher instead of off the wall and we win that game… That would make us 5-3 after the break…

    A game of inches…

    I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. We could still find a left fielder out there somewhere who can both hit and play the field without needing the assistance of a beard.

  16. justcruisn on July 25th, 2014 10:58 pm

    What was Charlie thinking? 0-2 count, hitter who hit 53 bombs last year, why wouldn’t you bury one and try to get an over aggressive swing instead of tossing one into the hitting zone and hope for him to watch it go by like LoMo, or Miller, or Hart, or Ackley does.

  17. justcruisn on July 25th, 2014 11:04 pm

    Mario Mendoza would be a hitting star on this team…

  18. LongDistance on July 26th, 2014 1:18 am

    It’s not like they’re not trying… read Stubbs et al. What’s frustrating, is this outfield/offense thing has been pointed to since day one… since before day one. So lamentable that WFB has been a singular contributor. I mean… really?

    It’s just getting so late, they would have to nearly give away the farm to accomplish something.

    Cano — WFB.

    This F.O. is schizophrenic, at best. I’m watching through my fingers at what happens. It could be fucking anything. But one thing’s for sure, if nothing happens, this season will curdle. Because we’re going to be seeing quite of bit of contenders who will HAVE made moves looking towards the playoffs… and the status quo of our .500 foundation, so far, will no longer exist.

    August, here we come.

    Go Jack (wherever in the hell you are) go!

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