Game 160, Angels at Mariners

marc w · September 26, 2014 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Jered Weaver, 7:10pm

It’s game #160, the final series of the year, at home, and the M’s technically haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention. The Mariners DHs, as Jeff just pointed out, have been historically awful again. Their opening day CF was gingerly dumped on the trash heap like something both foul and volatile, and after a surprising trade got them a veteran CF, the new guy underperformed that low bar. We all know this team’s all-too-visible holes. To their credit, they played well in spite of them throughout the summer. In all likelihood, their pitching can’t recapture this level of performance in 2015. But despite it all – despite the Brad Miller faceplant, and the realization that Kendrys Morales of all people desperately needs spring training – the M’s go into next year as a contender. A lot can happen in an offseason, but man, the gap between the M’s and A’s looks a hell of a lot smaller now, and the Angels don’t have that untouchable feel that the Rangers had as recently as 2012. I like this, as much as it hurts watching Hisashi Iwakuma slump or Chris Young’s inscrutability suddenly turn hi-def, 1080p scrutable.

Today’s game pits Iwakuma against Jered Weaver, the Angels shorter, healthier version of Chris Young. As you all know, Weaver’s ridden a slow fastball with plenty of backspin to a remarkably consistent career. He’s lost some velocity over the years, but he’s topped 200 IP again in 2014 for the fourth time, and first since his excellent 2011. He uses a four-seamer to righties, a “sinker” to lefties that has essentially zero sink, but a bit more armside run, a change-up, a curve and a slider. As a pitcher who throws plenty of high fastballs, he gets very few ground balls, but that doesn’t matter, as he’s consistently kept his HF/FB ratio under 10 (though Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle’s parks certainly help with that), and thus he’s a rare right-hander with a .270 career BABIP in over 1,600 career innings. Pop-ups are clearly a big part of that equation, as all of his pitches – not just the four-seamer – get more pop-ups than average. But he’s also able to get more strikeouts and whiffs than Young or other pitchers with this MO. This is why he’s been a borderline ace and not just a surprisingly effective middle or back-of-the-rotation guy – he manages contact well AND he’s able to get outs on his own. Finally, his approach and arsenal works for lefties as well as righties, and thus he has essentially no platoon splits in his career. It all adds up to a guy whose ERA is significantly lower than his FIP, and who seems to have earned the right to ignore the fielding independent stats.

That said, he’s clearly not what he used to be. Not only is he not striking out a batter an inning, he’s walking more than he has since 2009 – back before he was *Jered Weaver* and was more the guy who’d fluked his way to a great rookie season. His o-swing, or the percentage of swings on balls outside of the strikezone – tanked this year; as I mentioned before, it’s the 2nd lowest figure of any qualified starter, behind only CJ Wilson. His BABIP and FB%, the two things that define his ability to generate weak contact, aren’t quite in Chris Young’s league, and thus, on a rate basis, Young’s essentially matched Weaver’s (good) 2014. They’re not equally valuable, and honestly, Young was incredible for a while there, but Weaver’s less an ace and much more of a very nice complementary piece. For most of the year, that’s all he needed to be: Garrett Richards was the team’s unlikely ace, and Weaver and CJ Wilson were the handsomely-compensated veteran “presences” that stabilized the rotation. With Richards out, the team might seem to be at a disadvantage in the playoffs, except that no one really knows WHAT makes for a great playoff team. The Angels have been incredible this year, and if their pitching can’t quite line up against the A’s or even the M’s, they probably won’t be too concerned thanks to their best-in-baseball line-up.

1: Jackson (C’mon, man)
2: Ackley, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Morales ( )
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Saunders, RF
8: Zunino, C
9: Taylor, SS
SP: Iwakuma

Grant Brisbee’s guess/approximation of AC/DC’s new song “Play Ball” – the song that’ll be featured on every commercial break for the upcoming postseason – was surprisingly soulful.

The Royals face Hector Noesi and the Sox tonight, while the A’s will lose in excruciating fashion to Nick Tepesch of the Rangers. The A’s managed to get six hits and six walks last night, but only scored one run in a walk-off loss in Arlington. Coco Crisp was on base five times himself, but never scored.

Go M’s!


46 Responses to “Game 160, Angels at Mariners”

  1. rjfrik on September 26th, 2014 5:39 pm

    Texas up 1-0 on Oakland. Let’s go M’s and let’s go Rangers!!!!

  2. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 6:19 pm

    Oakland is now up 3-1 in the fourth.

  3. HighlightsAt11 on September 26th, 2014 6:23 pm

    Is this the weekend our collective decade wish comes true or the weekend the dream is shattered? We’re about to find out. Go Mariners!

  4. HighlightsAt11 on September 26th, 2014 6:24 pm

    Damn westside. You’re bursting my bubble.

  5. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 6:37 pm

    Hey, Highlights, I’m not playing for the As nor for KC – if I was, your dream would be somewhat more likely! πŸ˜›

  6. HighlightsAt11 on September 26th, 2014 6:58 pm

    But are you secretly playing for Texas. πŸ˜‰

  7. Longgeorge1 on September 26th, 2014 7:10 pm

    O’s lost, Angels have clinched home field disadvantage meant advantage just used to the M’s

  8. Longgeorge1 on September 26th, 2014 7:14 pm

    Derek Jeter finish at Yankee Stadium yesterday was – very Jeter. I am as tired of the parade that was his farewell tour, but he was pretty good overall 9 (ya think)

  9. Woodcutta on September 26th, 2014 7:34 pm

    Yeah the “look at me and how great I was” farewell tour completely contradicts his supposed team first attitude. That and his insistence to remain hitting at the top of the order and play shortstop well past his prime.

  10. Longgeorge1 on September 26th, 2014 7:36 pm

    Well there’s a two year contract

  11. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 7:43 pm

    Caw Caw!

  12. Jake on September 26th, 2014 7:43 pm

    Of course Saunders won’t be in the lineup tomorrow against CJ Wilson.

  13. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 7:45 pm

    Lloyd has to feel like he’s contributing, Jake.

  14. Jake on September 26th, 2014 7:47 pm

    Lloyd probably also feels Morales would have hit a 3 run homerun if he was hitting cleanup tonight.

  15. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 7:48 pm

    Man, give Jackson a break Lloyd. This can’t be helping his confidence.

  16. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 7:53 pm

    So I just got home a bit ago. I take it Kuma has looked good so far?

  17. Jake on September 26th, 2014 7:55 pm

    Beltre with a 1 out single off of Doolittle in the 9th.Have to start somewhere.

  18. Jake on September 26th, 2014 7:58 pm

    Oakland wins. Their magic number is down to 1.

  19. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:14 pm

    KC won. Their magic number is 0.

  20. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:19 pm

    Caw Caw! Redux…

    Lloyd sez “first one was a homer, second one only a double. He obviously is tiring and needs a break.”

  21. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:24 pm

    UZR seems to like Chris Taylor.

  22. Grayfox3d on September 26th, 2014 8:27 pm

    Ok, so whats our best bet at this point? IF and thats a big IF!!! Oak/KC/Det all lose their next two and we sweep this series is that a 4 way tie? I need to look more into the standings and stuff, but hopefully someone can come up with a quick good scenario that we actually make it. Although I dont know if we deserve to make it after that a** whooping we got in Toronto.

  23. Grayfox3d on September 26th, 2014 8:28 pm

    Nevermind anything I said above, its over.

  24. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:34 pm

    Ack Attack!

  25. Woodcutta on September 26th, 2014 8:36 pm

    If the M’s sweep then Oakland has to sweep to get in the playoffs outright. If they lose one game and the M’s sweep there will be a one game playoff for the last wild card spot (I think). If the M’s sweep and Oakland loses the next two the M’s are in.

  26. Woodcutta on September 26th, 2014 8:38 pm

    Actually that could be wrong. Oakland might have to lose two games. Whatever, I give up.

  27. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:40 pm

    Ugh, I will not be happy if Morales manages to put some little 30 at bat hot streak here at the end, and that motivates Jack Z to give him some too-big multi year contract.

  28. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:42 pm

    If Oakland wins one more game they are guaranteed the other wild card slot. Right now they are three wins ahead of Seattle.

    Both Detroit and KC are already guaranteed of at least a WC spot.

    (Corrected my initial statement about Oakland)

  29. Grayfox3d on September 26th, 2014 8:45 pm

    Ya just read up a little more, I should do that more often instead of making my self look ignorant πŸ™‚ but thank you guys.

    We need Oakland to lose these next two and some how we have to hold on tonight, and then win the other two.

  30. Grayfox3d on September 26th, 2014 8:45 pm

    Whats up with Kuma! dominates the first few innings then loses it all at once and gets creamed, this happened last start as well didnt it.

  31. Woodcutta on September 26th, 2014 8:46 pm

    Why are Pujols AND Trout playing? Wouldn’t the Angels rather play the M’s. They already know they can beat them with their AAA team.

  32. Woodcutta on September 26th, 2014 8:49 pm

    Nevermind, just realized they are still playing for the best record (home field).

  33. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:49 pm

    Well at least they were solo shots… I guess…

  34. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 8:53 pm

    Condor’s toast. Bench him. πŸ˜‰

  35. Jake on September 26th, 2014 9:01 pm

    That fan is an asswipe.

  36. Grayfox3d on September 26th, 2014 9:08 pm

    I thought that since Baltimore lost, the Angels clinched home field.

  37. Breadbaker on September 26th, 2014 9:53 pm

    A left-handed first baseman gets that.

  38. Jake on September 26th, 2014 9:59 pm

    Wooooo still in it on the 2nd to last day of the season!

  39. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 10:00 pm

    Nice to see Kuma have a good game!

  40. Jake on September 26th, 2014 10:02 pm

    Depending on the injury (I didn’t hear), it may not have been a good game.

  41. Westside guy on September 26th, 2014 10:05 pm

    Kuma supposedly “checks out okay”.

  42. madatms on September 27th, 2014 12:04 am

    lets go mariners two more wins

  43. LongDistance on September 27th, 2014 12:06 am

    The Angels have to figure the M’s to be more unpredictable than the A’s (and they are), who have shown themselves to be in a longer, steadier slide into oblivion. They are on the total war path against us.

    Go M’s!

  44. eponymous coward on September 27th, 2014 8:17 am

    lets go mariners two more wins

    Three wins, and three A’s losses (including the playoff game at Safeco, which would let us make the wild card playoff game in KC that would get us to the first round playoff in Anaheim).

    Boy, a couple more wins against the Astros would have come in handy here…

  45. eponymous coward on September 27th, 2014 1:52 pm

    Incidentally, the way our rotation is set up right now, Walker would pitch the playoff with Oakland, and we’d be doing a bullpen start for the playoff game with KC.

    It’d be a hell of a story if we made it to the first ALDS game with Anaheim…

  46. MrZDevotee on September 27th, 2014 3:55 pm

    Go M’s.

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