Game 154, Mariners at Astros

marc w · September 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Young vs. Dallas Keuchel, 4:10pm
Wildcard Odds- 41.7% 48.3%

I swear it was just a few days ago that the M’s wildcard odds dipped under 20%. With each game’s impact so large, and with the AL Central leaders facing each other, we’re going to have to get used to these massive swings in playoff odds. This is pretty cool.

As strange as it is to see a seven-foot righty soft-tosser succeeding by allowing a blizzard of fly balls, it’s taken the AL a while to get used to the idea that Dallas Keuchel‘s actually quite a good pitcher. Lloyd McClendon memorably dismissed Keuchel as “average” and putting the blame on his hitters after Keuchel stymied the M’s in Seattle in early May. But at that point, Keuchel was one of the AL Leaders in FIP/fWAR, thanks to a career low walk rate and an insane GB%. Keuchel throws 88-89, and came into 2014 with an ERA well over 5 over parts of two seasons, so it’s not like McClendon was really going out on a limb, but the fact that the story got so much attention shows just how sharp Keuchel’s first few months were. Instead of a great GB% of 53-55%, he was in the 60s. This helped him address his biggest weakness – the long ball. In his 239 career innings before 2014, he’d given up 34 HRs, easily over 1 per 9IP. This year, in 192 IP, he’s given up just 11, or about 0.5 / 9IP.

While his walk rate’s also better, it’s that HR rate that’s driving his vastly-improved FIP. Sure, it’s hard to give up HRs when no one’s able to hit a fly ball at all, let alone a deep one, but HR/FB rates are variable, and just as his career HR/FB looked extremely unlucky, is it possible he’s just gotten lucky in 2014? Anything’s possible, but his HR/FB looks a lot more like “normal” than “freakish” – for that, you just have to look at Chris Young’s numbers. But it’s not just that he’s giving up fewer flies, he’s changed his approach. He dropped his lousy curve for a slider, and for whatever reason, that pitch has been effective against right-handed hitters; a lefty sinker/slider guy sounds like someone who righties should dominate, but they haven’t managed it this season. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t have platoon splits – he does. They’re pretty sizable, really, because he’s not able to miss very many right-handed bats. That’s fine if you can get 62% grounders against them, as Keuchel can. Lefties have had almost no chance against him, as they combine an even higher GB% with a K:BB ratio of 5, so the M’s are going to get as many RHBs as they can in the line-up. I know I’ve said it a million times, but the M’s have struggled this year against extreme GB guys like Keuchel – they’ve got a .604 OPS against them, and are slugging about .300. Some teams, most notably the A’s, have tried to counteract sinkerballers by stocking up on fly-ball hitters. The Angels just have Mike Trout, a guy with preternatural ability to drive low and low-and-in pitches. The M’s don’t really have that, but if it’s any consolation, they’re in a better position to get to Keuchel now than before their deadline deals. Now if only they could get Austin Jackson to hit like himself and not like Abe Almonte.

1: Jackson, CF
2: Denorfia, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Morales, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, LF
7: Hart, DH
8: Zunino, C
9: Taylor, SS
SP: The Magical Giant


72 Responses to “Game 154, Mariners at Astros”

  1. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:06 pm

    WRC+ by month: N/A.


    That’s so beautifully appropriate I may pee myself.

  2. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:07 pm

    Do you coach Rypien’s son?

    Richland held him to 7 TD’s and about 800 yards passing.

  3. Paul B on September 20th, 2014 5:08 pm

    Well one run. With all those righties, the Mariners should score lots of runs, right?

  4. leon0112 on September 20th, 2014 5:09 pm

    Fan graphs now has the Mariners playoff odds at 50%. Must not take into the score of this game.

  5. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:16 pm

    Morales and Hart with infield singles.

    In the same game!

    In the same decade!!

  6. Westside guy on September 20th, 2014 5:19 pm

    Hey Zunino! You hit it!

  7. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:22 pm

    Oh for fucking check swing sake.

  8. Westside guy on September 20th, 2014 5:24 pm

    Crap. Utter crap.

  9. Westside guy on September 20th, 2014 5:28 pm

    Please pull Young, Lloyd. It’s not like you don’t have 100 pitchers in the bullpen right now.

  10. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:28 pm

    Might as well keep him in the game, now. See how many home runs he can surrender.

  11. californiamariner on September 20th, 2014 5:28 pm

    Should Lloyd trust Chris Young for his next start? I mean I guess there’s not much else to choose from.

  12. MrZDevotee on September 20th, 2014 5:29 pm

    So, with “the greatest bullpen in the history of baseball” why the fuck was Young still pitching after the 2nd inning? I mean, last time I checked, we were playing for something this last week…

    Houston goes for 5 in the first two innings and Lloyd thinks, well maybe they’ll get bored? Maybe the magic dust will rekindle in Chris Young?

    Fucking act like you WANT to win and make it to the playoffs.

    God damnit.

    (That felt good… Sorry, everybody…)

  13. Eastside Suds on September 20th, 2014 5:30 pm

    He will, but he shouldn’t. And no, I don’t coach at Shadle Park where Brett plays.

  14. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:36 pm

    It’s an anti-rainbow special montage!

    Good for you Mr Z, good for you.

    I wouldn’t let Chris Young get close to making another start unless it is at Safeco – and even that would be a stretch. No Elias and no Young. Walker and probably Erasmo are going to have to nut up.

    That’s football speak.

  15. californiamariner on September 20th, 2014 5:37 pm

    Even worse, will the Mariners offer Young a 2 year deal in the offseason?

  16. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 5:39 pm

    And pretty much every other sport-speak.

    They gotta find a way to get six more wins. I think 89 wins will be enough to get them in.

  17. msfanmike on September 20th, 2014 6:26 pm

    Erasmo isn’t too bright. It’s not hard to not throw an 0-2 strike. It’s something thing that most irritates his manager, too.

    Rock pile.

  18. Longgeorge1 on September 20th, 2014 6:28 pm

    An outfield of Mays, Clemente and Trout and the ‘Stros would still have 10

  19. JMB on September 20th, 2014 7:01 pm

    So glad I watched the Huskies tonight instead! Though their game started off pretty grim as well, before doing a 180 in the second half.

  20. Westside guy on September 20th, 2014 7:11 pm

    Another 180 – they’re everywhere on this site!

  21. LongDistance on September 21st, 2014 12:40 am

    Thinking 180-ively … Oakland, KC and Seattle have developed this last week into a triumvirate of clusterflub suck. It’s basically going to come down to who unsucks themselves first.

    There are some nano-dimensional differences. The A’s are in pure suck. KC is a floundering sort of suck. And the M’s, regardless of the seeming suckitude shown every other game, are sort of playing up into this end-of-the-year situation.

    This, regardless, is a 180 from last year, and I’m going to 180-bandwagon this thing.

    Who would have thought, with a week left, it would still be too close to call?

    Go 180 M’s!

  22. stevemotivateir on September 21st, 2014 10:21 am

    It’s about the USSM 180!

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