The Mariners are Now Bumming Out Other Teams
There’s always a sort of impetus to kick off these posts, something that sat us down to look and then type frantically for however many minutes and hours until, bam, front page post. Sometimes it’s just as simple as looking at a stat sheets and going “wull, that’s weird” and then going from there and other times it’s something that we pick up from video observations, which are more easily repeated in the wild.
I get most of my game intake from radio, which means the perspective I get is somewhat skewed. I don’t have a TV in the same room as my computer because I might never leave otherwise, and besides, I work most of the time. But the point I’m attempting to get at here: Over the past couple of days I’ve been listening to games and have also had the privilege of visually catching some of last night’s game at a bar [with Matthew and others] and tonight’s game while at home.
One of the things that I’ve noticed over the past series on radio is there have been a few instances in which a strikeout pitch got a bit wild and got away from the catcher du jour. In many of those instances (one excludes Mune because Mune, Tolleson because WHO IS HE), I’ve heard or seen the same batters victimized by those strikeouts looking at the balls with a flat “WELP.” No running for first, just existential misery. Or, more commonly, they’re staring at the called third strike or the swing is a bail swing, defensive, reflexive, not hoping for much more than staying alive. The example I would point to is the Melky Cabrera strikeout late in today’s game, but there are others that are available as well and I’ve reviewed what pitching videos I could up to this moment.
These types of swings, I’m kind of used to seeing from the Mariners. Used to seeing Smoak or Montero or Bad Ackley take a hack or watch a bad pitch and then go stoically to the dugout (Michael Saunders doesn’t count, has need of mouth soap). I’m not used to the Mariners causing it to happen outside of Felix. But the Blue Jays are a good team. They don’t really have much pitching, but they’re the fifth best team in the American League by hitter WAR and fourth best by wRC+ and third in runs scored. Their strikeout rate only ranks tenth. And at times during this series, they’ve looked utterly demoralized, incapable of executing on what they needed to do in order to keep in it. They had twenty-seven Ks in 100 ABs. Fangraphs is telling me that they K’d in 20.7% of their ABs coming into this particular game. We outdid that mark by about a third.
This was a series with playoff implications and the Mariners, by strength of their pitching, sometimes loud hitting, and a weird outburst by Kendrys Morales, but mostly pitching, have made the Blue Jays look and act like losers. In Safeco, where the ‘Ners didn’t even have a winning record coming into the homestand. Meanwhile, the offense has done what it was supposed to do to pitchers that had middling track records, which is to say, get leads.
Consider this information over the off day, delighting in it, or applying the habituated skepticism.