Game 8, Mariners at Dodgers
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. David Huff, 7:10pm
The M’s managed to lose a game in which they hit four HRs. Even in the recent low-scoring, fewer HR environment, we probably shouldn’t be too surprised. The M’s have hit at least four HRs in a game and lost 31 times now, including two games in which they hit 5.* James Paxton didn’t look too sharp, though the M’s defense wasn’t all that sharp. Today, the M’s try to even up the series behind Hisashi Iwakuma, who’ll try to avoid the slow start that doomed his first start against the Angels.
The Dodgers called up David Huff from Oklahoma City (still getting used to all the new affiliations) to make the start today. Huff’s 2014 will sound a bit familiar – last year, Huff had a poor half-year for an NL West club, but then seemed to reinvent himself after getting picked up the Yankees. Brandon McCarthy got a four-year deal out of his reinvention, but Huff got a minor league deal with a spring training invite. So what *was* he, and what *is* he, after the Yankees got through with him? Huff came up with the Indians as a guy with a so-so fastball, but a solid change and great control. As I mentioned back in March, Huff’s change wasn’t good enough to reliably get major league righties out, but without a good breaking ball, he was equally lost against lefties. Getting hit hard chased him out of the strikezone, so his sparkling walk rates were gone too.
In his career, Huff’s allowed lefties to hit .298/.366/.474 against him, while righties have hit .275/.329/.462. Some of that is BABIP related, but even looking at fielding-independent stats, he has essentially even splits. As a starter with Cleveland, he had a FB around 90mph, his change, a slider and the occasional curve. Back then, he was a fly-ball pitcher, whose fastball simply wasn’t good enough to rely on. He continued to bounce between MLB and AAA, but he could never get a handle on his HR rate. He started off last year with San Francisco, and produced career-best ground ball rates, but it didn’t help him get outs. The Yankees picked him up on waivers, and he performed quite well out of the Yankees bullpen. Fangraphs readers would probably note that his FIP was the same for both teams, and a closer look at his pitch fx data shows that he didn’t really make any big changes. Sure, he’s no longer a four-seam/change-up guy – he’s now a four-seam/cutter pitcher, but he picked up the cutter a few years ago, and he used it extensively with the Giants. Its downward break was the big reason for his GB% improvement. Nothing much changed when he got to the Bronx, except he had much better results on balls in play. More interestingly, the cutter seems to have helped him get a handle on lefties.
Thus, Huff’s not the same guy who’s faced the M’s three times and yielded an ERA over 10. That’s not to say he’s great, however. This is a game the M’s should win.
1: Weeks, LF
2: Jackson, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Zunino, C
7: Miller, SS
8: Bloomquist, 1B
Ah, the M’s righty-heavy line-up.
Dave’s got a good article on our old friend Carter Capps’ reworked…uh..delivery. In case you missed it, Capps was recalled last night, and his new delivery stretches the bounds of some remarkably vague rules on what constitutes a “legal pitch.” Capps now takes Jordan Walden’s old “hop” delivery and magnifies it; he’s essentially leaping forward a few feet, and then resuming his delivery. He’s received some guidance from MLB, so it looks like this is legal. *This* is why we need the statcast data, complete with pitcher extention. The perceived velocity of Capps’ fastball has to be off the charts.
The Rainiers lost to Albuquerque last night 4-3 as the bullpen couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead. Mike Montgomery looked pretty good for Tacoma, showing reasonable control and generating plenty of GB outs. Today, Jordan Pries will try to erase memories of his opening day start. Chris Taylor played some SS yesterday, but will stick to DH’ing today.
AA Jackson has the day off.
Bakersfield’s opening day starter Edwin Diaz makes his second start of the year against Modesto. The Nuts dominated yesterday’s game, winning 11-3.
Clinton last 6-2 yesterday, with Lukas Schiraldi taking the loss. Today, Jefferson Medina makes his first start against Quad Cities again.
* The M’s hit 5 HRs in a 16-10 loss to Toronto in May of 1999. The M’s hit 3 off David Wells, and then 2 off of reliever Tom Davey, who they would acquire a few months later in exchange for David Segui. The M’s also hit 5 HRs in a 14-8 loss to Boston back in 1988. The M’s got to Oil Can Boyd for 3 HRs, but they were already behind 12-2 heading into the 5th, so Boyd’s approach (throw strikes) was understandable. It’s still impressive to see a 5HR game from any team in 1988 – the AL SLG% that year was .391, essentially the same as 2014’s mark of .390. In 1999, the M’s led the league with 244 HRs, and the league as a whole was slugging .439. In 1988, they managed 148 total dingers – led by Steve Balboni’s 21 in 97 games – good for 4th in the league. That was still more than they hit in 2014. Only 136 last year? Steve Balboni is unimpressed.