Game 134, Nationals at Mariners

marc w · August 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Stephen Strasburg, 7:10pm

After several years, the top two picks in the lauded 2009 draft finally meet.

Stephen Strasburg’s been healthy this year, and while he’s no longer the superhuman freak he appeared to be when he broke into the league in 2010, he’s still an elite power pitcher, with a K% of about 28% and a walk rate of only 5.5%. His fastball’s now around 95-96, and he backs it up with a curve ball and a change-up. Oddly, for someone who’s had two arm surgeries, he’s added a slider this year, though he throws it very rarely. Thanks to his top-shelf velocity and great secondary pitches, he’s never struggled against left-handers. So why isn’t he dominating?

It’s no longer that he hasn’t racked up enough innings – he’s pitched 175 IP thus far. By FIP-based WAR, he cracks the top 20 starters (at #20), behind teammate Jordan Zimmermann, Hisashi Iwakuma, Chris Archer and Dallas Keuchel. By RA9-WAR, though, he falls to 60th, on pace to put up an almost perfectly league average season. Part of the answer is a spike in his HRs allowed, and the rest is likely BABIP-related. So has he just been unlucky? It’s not easy to tell. His fastball’s a bit slower, and maybe that helps account for the fact that batters have knocked 16 HRs off of it. Because of his elite velocity, it’s not immediately clear that he’s ever really needed to command it. Looking at his heat maps, there are an awful lot of center-cut fastballs, and Strasburg hasn’t shown that he can get a lower HR/FB or BABIP on the pitch – especially in the strike zone.

This is hardly to say he’s an average pitcher overall. His change-up is a great pitch, and he can use it to righties and lefties alike. That velocity is still over a standard deviation above the average, after all, and by K%-BB% (a simple fielding-independent metric that’s surprisingly good at predicting ERA), he’s in the top 5 in baseball, just edging out King Felix. A match-up like this one is great for him as well, as his problems with HR/FB are attenuated by the park and the M’s mediocre slugging. That said, if even King Felix can falter, then Strasburg shouldn’t be immune either.

1: Jackson, CF
2: Ackley, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, LF
7: Taylor, SS
8: Jones, RF
9: Sucr
SP: Roenis Elias

Wow…that’s a less than full strength line-up. Whatever…go M’s!!

The Rainiers continue their season-ending series in Fresno tonight as Taijuan Walker makes his last start. The Rainiers came back to win last night, with HRs from Justin Smoak, Leury Bonilla and Stefen Romero bailing out starter Forrest Snow who had something of a rough outing. I sat down to interview Snow in Tacoma last week; I’ll get that posted this weekend.

Lefty Tyler Olson makes his last start for AA Jackson today as well. The Spokane product’s shot through the system (he was drafted last year, and pitched for SS Everett last year) despite underwhelming raw stuff. That he’s succeeded in AA is a good sign, and he’s closing the year well. In his last four starts, he’s posted a 22:2 K:BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings.


50 Responses to “Game 134, Nationals at Mariners”

  1. eponymous coward on August 30th, 2014 2:33 pm

    Wow…that’s a less than full strength line-up

    Might look better with a 1B and with less LFers.

  2. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 2:48 pm

    It’s actually a new shift — two LFers and no 1B. Playing all lefties to go the other way and all righties to pull. 🙂

  3. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 3:05 pm

    While it was probably a typo, I laughed when I saw “less than a full strength lineup” right below where Sucre’s name isn’t completely spelled out. Like “he’s somewhat less than a major league catcher, so he doesn’t deserve his full name being listed”.

    It sounds like Condor is still a ways from returning, unfortunately – so we’re going to continue seeing crap in right field for quite some time.

    Perhaps the team should consider shifting one of the two left fielders over there to help Jones out? 😉

  4. MrZDevotee on August 30th, 2014 3:10 pm

    I’m happier with Jones out there than Morrison (assuming Morrison is 1B tonight)…

    But really would like to see Saunders back. Is he in some weird “doghouse” situation, because all the ‘reasons’ behind his absence are getting more and more bizarre.

    I know it’s not… But he’s getting close to Franklin Gutierrez territory at this point. A new Mariner illness… Guty-itis… The inability to stay in the lineup, for months at a time…

  5. GhostofMarinersPast on August 30th, 2014 3:14 pm

    I want to talk more about Ice Cream Sandwich-Gate!! I want to know what happened! Its so bizarre

  6. WTF_Ms on August 30th, 2014 5:02 pm

    I want to know if it was an “Ice Cream Sammich”, or a “Helmet of ice cream”. I’ve heard both stories.

  7. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 6:03 pm

    It’s about two silly dudes licking their own self-inflicted wounds from the comfort of their own homes, now.

    I feel bad for both of them in an odd way. but what a couple of ass-hats, though.

  8. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 6:18 pm

    Anyone know why they didn’t skip Elias’ turn this time around? They had an off day recently so they could have skipped him and still given all the other starters their usual 4 days rest. We’re in a playoff race so I don’t think he should be pitching unless absolutely necessary.

  9. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 6:19 pm

    Alright gonna be another fun filled night!!!… for national’s fans…ugh.

  10. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 6:34 pm

    Seems like they may want Elias and Walker on the same throwing schedule – potentially – so maybe Walker can slide into …. Shit, I don’t know.

  11. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 7:24 pm

    Morales, Seager and Morrison were just schooled. Woodshed whooping.

  12. SeattleSlew on August 30th, 2014 7:26 pm

    M’s making Strasburg look like Nolan Ryan out there.

  13. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 7:38 pm

    Rendon looks good. I wonder where he would be playing had the Mariners drafted him instead of Hultzen.

  14. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 7:41 pm

    Yeah, the Nats got Rendon and Strasburg and we got Ackley and Hultzen. Holy sh*t that’s depressing.

  15. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 7:45 pm

    Remember that one time where we won some games? ya that’s a fading memory now, but it was nice.

    Did we really pick Hultzen over Rendon? wowza, nice moves Jack Z!

  16. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 7:49 pm

    In fairness to Jack, Rendon had shoulder issues that scared some teams away. Pretty ironic though – we passed on a guy because of a possible shoulder problem, then we take a guy who blows up his shoulder.

  17. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 7:51 pm

    I thought the Rendon issues were related to his ankles, too.

  18. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 7:52 pm

    Crap, you’re right Mike. Don’t know why I was thinking shoulder. Apparently it wasn’t ironic at all!

  19. eponymous coward on August 30th, 2014 7:56 pm

    Lolla-blue-za II: Electric Boogaloo

  20. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 8:00 pm

    He might have had an issue with his shoulder, too. I recall some issue with his throwing arm during his draft hear, but I remember he did have some significant ankle injury or injuries. He was a highly regarded right handed bat and it was a surprise to many the mariners didn’t pick him. If they had picked him, they probably would not have gone out and gotten Cano. Rendon probably would have ended up at 2B or 3B – with Seager holding down the other spot.

    They never did have a chance to draft Strasburg because if the very important ’08 late season surge, but it’s interesting to see the fine line differences of how a team can sometimes take shape.

  21. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 8:01 pm

    As the nerds like to say, TINSTAAPP.

    there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  22. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 8:02 pm

    I thought needs were smart enough to come up with shorter acronyms.

  23. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 8:04 pm

    Haha yeah that one isn’t much shorter than the actual phrase

  24. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 8:06 pm

    Rendon was the guy I wanted us to draft. I realize that probably sounds like hindsight bias because he’s doing so well, but I truly thought the upside was worth the injury risk at the time.

    At one point I remember everyone just assumed he was going to be the #1 pick, then the injuries happened and he slid a bit. I thought we were incredibly lucky to have a shot to get him at all, but I think they viewed Hultzen as being the safer pick. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.

  25. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 8:08 pm

    Or nerds for that matter.

  26. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 8:08 pm

    Seattleguy, apparently we cant win at all right now.

  27. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 8:10 pm

    Haha… good point, Grayfox.

  28. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 8:13 pm

    I don’t know about you guys, but last night kinda felt like the beginning of the end – as far as a legitimate playoff run is concerned. It’s probably just the multiple layers of plaque from all the losing seasons piling on top of one another – but the mood just kinda shifted gears with our team ace getting blasted like he did.

    There is a lot of time left in the season, but it’s a tough September schedule.

  29. Seattleguy527 on August 30th, 2014 8:19 pm

    I completely agree. Last night was also the first time I looked at KC and Detroit’s schedules. They play each other 6 more times, but other than that it’s a cakewalk for both of them. Just a bunch of AL Central games and I think Detroit has 3 against SF. I guess Cleveland is still putting up a fight, but it’s nothing compared to our Oakland and Anaheim schedule.

    I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see the wheels come off for us and end up finishing 5 or 6 games out of it.

  30. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 8:40 pm

    Wow, Dustin!

  31. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 8:41 pm

    So I’ve been thinking, This whole Jack Z tenure we haven’t been very good, and I think most people would agree with that. Then we enter the final year in Jack Z’s contract, and we all of a sudden are talking playoffs, and have a winning record, and excellent pitching, so forth. Then comes the Jack Z extension…. and we enter start of the 2014 epic collapse of the Seattle Mariners.

    Now that’s just me thinking and rambling to my self in the shower.

  32. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 8:50 pm

    That Cano guy is pretty good.

  33. Eastside Crank on August 30th, 2014 8:51 pm

    Here is the local account of what happened between Montero and Baccala:
    Both involved were Uncle Fester’s hand picked boys and both should be looking for new jobs. Dave Valle also needs to be reminded that it is the manager’s job to prevent this type of thing from happening. He has no excuse for not getting between the two when things started to flare up.

  34. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 8:52 pm

    That Seager guy is pretty good.

  35. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 9:00 pm

    This ump is calling everything outside against us tonight! cmon man!

  36. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 9:01 pm

    Endy comes in to face a lefty – yeah, that makes sense.

  37. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 9:03 pm

    Hahaha baseball!

  38. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 9:03 pm

    oh just what we wanted to happen… the game comes down to James Jones Vs. Soriano…

  39. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 9:05 pm

    Oh, Lordy, it’s James Jones facing a lefty now.

  40. WTF_Ms on August 30th, 2014 9:06 pm

    As we would expect, and Soriano is a righty.

  41. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2014 9:06 pm

    Falling further down the rabbit hole.

  42. msfanmike on August 30th, 2014 9:08 pm

    Westy has mirror vision.

  43. hypnofelix on August 30th, 2014 9:10 pm

    This is a SADSTAT Public Service Announcement: as of 20:40 PDT, Dustin Ackley’s wRC+ is actually above 100.

  44. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 9:10 pm

    Westy’s old and apparently his eyes and brains no workee well together

  45. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 9:14 pm

    Man, Ackley, I’m almost ready to believe in you again. Don’t you DARE screw it up!

  46. Westside guy on August 30th, 2014 9:28 pm

    Hey remember when Rafael Soriano was a Mariner? And then we traded him for HoRam?

  47. Utis on August 30th, 2014 9:31 pm

    Why not send up Miller or Zunino instead of Jones. Jones isn’t a power hitter. Miller or Z could run into a pitch and win the game.

  48. Woodcutta on August 30th, 2014 10:52 pm

    In 2008 the M’s and Nationals had the same record (worst in the league) and the M’s decided to win the last three games of the season and the Nationals lost the last three games of the season.

  49. LongDistance on August 31st, 2014 12:16 am

    Conditioned to expect the worst, every time they lost more than two in a row I also found myself tempted to see this remarkable (for us) season flatlining.

    But, each time, they managed to right themselves.

    They’ve got one tough September in front of them. But, strangely, they seem to do better as underdogs. At the very least, it’s a role they understand only too well.

    So, despite all logic, I’m still tuning in … Not yet ready to throw in the ice cream sandwich.

    Go M’s

  50. Slippery Elmer on August 31st, 2014 6:55 am

    But what about throwing in the $4.50 Boise Hawks mini-helmet filled with ice cream?

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