Fake Game 9, Rockies at Mariners
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Christian Bergman, 1:05pm, 710/Mariners Radio/Root TV
So yesterday we had Felix day, which tends to elevate his commoner subjects like yesterday’s Rockies starter. Today’s game offers none of that. Instead, we have Erasmo Ramirez essentially trying out for another team, while Christian Bergman tries to figure something out to avoid the kind of beating he took in his big league call up last year. Bergman’s a four seam/sinker/cutter guy who can best be described as the Rockies’ Blake Beavan. A 24-round pick out of UC-Irvine, Bergman throws 89 without a lot of movement, but he simply pounds the zone, with a minor-league BB% of around 5%. Despite some sink, his minor league GB rates weren’t all that noteworthy, but what IS interesting is that his GB% cratered upon arriving in the majors. To sum up, low-velo, lots of fly balls, pounding the zone, pitches for Colorado. You can probably guess how that all worked out. Bergman gave up 9 HRs in 54+ IP, leading to a 4.74 FIP. The lack of walks could’ve help his ERA, but his lack of pure stuff and a .333 BABIP pushed his ERA nearer to 6.
What’s interesting, particularly for a guy with a sinker, is that Bergman ran reverse platoon splits. Now, he pitched 50 IP, so it’s easy to chalk that up to a meaningless fluke. But then, it wasn’t just a BABIP thing – he actually struck out a few lefties, while righties nearly always put the ball in play. Lefties hit only one HR off of him, while righties knocked eight. The HR thing wasn’t entirely tied to his home park – he was largely the same on the road. So I went back to his minor league numbers, and the same pattern showed up (albeit less stark). In his minor league career, his K% is 19% against lefties compared to 15% against righties. His HR% was higher against righties too. The problem really seems to be with his four-seam fastball. Lefties may not see it all that well, as they have higher whiff rates and foul ball rates than righties. Against righties, 21 big league hitters put his fastball in play last year. EIGHT of them knocked extra base hits, including four HRs. That’s the definition of a small sample, but pair the results with the odd reverse splits and it looks like a problem. It’s odd because he throws a sinker, and sinkers themselves tend to have large (normal) platoon splits. Lefties certainly knocked his sinker around last year, but righties had a harder time with it. Nothing’s as simple as “just stop throwing your worst pitch” but it seems like it’s time for some kind of a change.
1: Ruggiano, CF
2: Smith, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Weeks, LF
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Miller, SS
8: Taylor, 2B
9: Sucre, C
As we suspected, it’s looking like Yu Darvish will require TJ surgery. Today we find out that Derek Holland’s shoulder is bothering him, and the Rangers are saying he may not be ready for opening day. If you were trying to forecast who might put in a waiver claim on Erasmo, start with Texas.
They’re not the only team dealing with injury, though. Yesterday, we learned Marcus Stroman, the young ace of the Blue Jays, will miss 2015 due to a torn ACL that he suffered fielding a bunt. Stroman’s fun to watch, and his absence goes a long way towards opening up the AL East race – this has to sting for Jays fans. I take no joy in either Stroman or Darvish’s injuries, because they make being a baseball fan a bit more fun. We also don’t know what the Jays will do in response. However, any hit to the Jays chances would tend to improve the M’s wildcard odds (though the M’s would obviously prefer to just win the AL West), and thus help the playoff odds of Seattle, Oak/LAA and Cleveland.