Game 11, Rangers at Mariners
King Felix vs. Colby Lewis, 6:10pm (Note the odd start time)
Happy Felix Day. This one couldn’t come at a better time – when the M’s have lost four in a row, with an offense sputtering to the lowest OBP in the league, and a pitching staff that’s put up the third-worst ERA in baseball. I always love Felix starts when the M’s are on a bit of a roll, and it feels like they’re up 2-0 before the game even starts. Those have been the exception, of course; we’re all a bit more familiar with these “Save us, Felix” starts in which it falls to Felix to halt a slide. It’s early, and Lloyd McClendon isn’t necessarily wrong when he says the team will click eventually – their FIP is a full run lower than their ERA, and the club’s worst-in-baseball BABIP means luck has played a role in the awful OBP. Still, this isn’t the start anyone wanted, and the Oakland series feels ages ago now. After putting up another poor performance against Gallardo last night, the M’s face long-time Rangers junkballer Colby Lewis.
Lewis famously reworked his mechanics and repertoire during a stint in Japan with Hiroshima, and returned to the AL in 2010 as a surprisingly good starter. Injuries and age have sapped some velocity and the bite on his slider, and his platoon splits have become more and more of an issue, but he’s giving Texas innings at a time they desperately need them. He was worth a bit over 1 fWAR last year, despite an ugly ERA, thanks to a consistently good K:BB ratio. That said, as a fly-baller who plays in Texas, he’s always had home run issues. And as he’s aged, that problem’s getting a bit worse.
Lewis’ four-seamer is now in the 88-89mph range, and his best pitch is a slider that comes in around 83. It’s got a lot of drop for a slider, and that two-plane movement has helped it be effective against lefties as well as righties – since 2012, he’s had better results with it to lefties, though that’s due in part to sample size and the situations he uses it in against southpaws. He throws about 1/3 sliders to righties, but he’ll mix it in with a curve and change to lefties; neither pitch is particularly effective, but they give batters something to think about. Despite the slider and a five-pitch mix, he continues to struggle against lefties. In his career, lefties have a .361 wOBA against him, while righties are at .318. This is an opportunity for the M’s to use their lefty-heavy line-up to good effect.
Felix scared us all a bit with his quad problem in Oakland. It obviously isn’t too serious as he’s making the start tonight, and it also provides a convenient excuse for Felix’s poor game in Oakland. If he’s healthy, this *should* be a decent match-up, and yes, I realize I said that yesterday.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Ackley, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smith, RF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Miller, SS
9: Zunino, C
SP: Felix Hernandez.
Zunino in the 9th spot for the first time. Can’t say I mind. Smith started hot, but has yet to draw a walk on the season – hell, even Zunino’s got two of them.
As Jeff pointed out a week or so ago, the Angels are weighing their options to rid themselves of the Josh Hamilton contract. Ken Rosenthal mentions that the Angels are looking to trade him, but could buy out Hamilton – not sure how much savings they’d get on the $83 million they still owe him. It’s been a rough few months for Hamilton, who filed for divorce recently as well.
Pete Rose will join Fox as a studio analyst, according to, er, Fox. I guess they should know.
The Rainiers dropped their home opener to El Paso last night 4-2 after starter Mike Kickham walked 7 in 5 IP. It’s a gorgeous day today, and the Rainiers game starts at 5pm – plenty of sunlight left. Mike Montgomery gets the start after an encouraging 2015 debut. Very curious to hear how he looks and how hard he’s throwing these days.
Jackson lost 6-5 in 12 innings yesterday, but that’s OK. The Mississippi Braves scored the winning run off Carlton Tanabe, the catcher, who was pressed into service on the mound after the Generals had run through so many pitchers in the first week. More importantly, DJ Peterson showed some signs of life, going 3-6 with a double. Dylan Unsworth starts tonight’s contest.
The Bakersfield Blaze shut out San Jose, with Carlos Misell, Emilio Pagan and Brett Ash combining for 9Ks and just a single walk. Tyler O’Neill and Austin Wilson both had hits, but the offensive star was Tyler Marlette, again. He’s now at 12 for 24 on the year, with a pair of HRs. I was a bit surprised he started in high-A; maybe Marlette’s taking his frustration out on the Cal League, and maybe they wanted to give him some confidence for when he moves back up to AA. Jake Zokan starts tonight against DJ Snelton, a 9th rounder in 2013 out of Minnesota.
Clinton won 3-2 yesterday behind six shutout innings from Pat Peterson, who struck out 7 along the way. Joe DeCarlo continued his hot start with another HR – that’s 3 in 2 days for him. Clinton faces the Beloit Snappers today, and send Lukas Schiraldi to the mound.