Game 17, Twins at Mariners

marc w · April 25, 2015 at 3:26 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Trevor May, 6:10pm

Felix, man. There’s nothing like watching Felix when he’s got his best stuff, except maybe watching Felix with his best stuff in a playoff game. Get on that, M’s.

Today the M’s face local kid Trevor May. The righthander grew up in Kelso, and the Phillies signed him out of a UW commitment. He excelled in the Philadelphia system, pitching around a few too many walks by racking up strikeouts thanks to a plus fastball and a solid change-up. Like many young pitchers, he hit a bit of a snag in his first trip through AA. In 2012, May walked 78 and plunked another 11 in 149+ innings. To make matters worse, his rising FB led to lots of elevated contact, and that produced 22 home runs. May was clearly still a prospect, but one with plenty of question marks. After that season, the Phillies flipped him to Minnesota in the Ben Revere trade. His second tour of duty in the Eastern League was a bit better, but his walk rate was still over 10%.

Some tweaks heading into 2014 helped May avoid the long ball, and while his walk rate was still troubling, he was still striking out nearly a batter an inning. May got called up to the Twins in August, and made his debut against Oakland. The results were not encouraging: 7 walks, no K’s, and 4 runs in just 2 innings. In his first 5 MLB starts, he pitched 5 innings just once, and gave up 23 runs in 19 innings. The Twins apparently made some mechanical changes and May finished strong, with a 10K, no walk performance against the White Sox and then a 7K, 1 BB game against Detroit to close out the year. His season numbers were ugly, but there were some encouraging signs heading into 2015.

Twins manager Paul Molitor thought May struggled with his emotions last year, so the Twins worked with May on avoiding big innings by staying positive. In general, these are a subset of “best shape of his life” stories we hear every spring – every pitcher has a “new attitude” or “renewed focus” or some such. There’s also no way to apportion credit/blame to something like “focus”, but through two starts in 2015, May’s walked only 1. He’s not just aping Phil Hughes, though. May still throws his share of balls, but he’s able to get swings on a fair number of them.

The primary reason is his change, a pitch BA lists as the best in the system. It’s got somewhat unusual movement for a change – it’s got almost as much vertical rise as his four-seam fastball, and as much vertical rise as any change in baseball (along with Danny Duffy, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Tillman). In his brief career, that change gets whiffs on 43% of swings, and batters swing at it over half the time – not bad considering May’s crippling control problems last year. This season, he’s using a sinker a bit more, and he’s cut back on his slider – the slider was easily his worst pitch in 2014. His primary breaking ball is a curve with good horizontal movement – May’s low 3/4 delivery probably helps.

1: Jackson, CF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
SP: Paxton

The Rainiers beat Albuquerque 3-2, as Jordan Pries put together a great start, going 6 1/3 IP with 7 Ks and allowing 2 runs. Chris Taylor went 2-4 with a double, and Carlos Quentin doubled as well for his first Tacoma hit. Roenis Elias starts tonight in Sacramento.

Edwin Diaz made up for his one poor start of the year, blanking San Jose over 5 1/3 IP.

Jackson and Clinton were rained out.


29 Responses to “Game 17, Twins at Mariners”

  1. mariner_funk on April 25th, 2015 5:14 pm

    Sweet, we are going with the old 4 man outfield tonight. Both smith and cruz in RF. Im sure cruz is getting a DH day, but oh the possibilities.

  2. BoomBoom on April 25th, 2015 5:43 pm

    I’m happy to see that my petition to MLB for special dispensation to include two RF’s has been granted.

    I pointed out to MLB that having Cruz out there so often should really allow the M’s to play an extra RF and forego the DH and the lineup would indicate ’tis thus.

    Thanks, MLB. Oh, and Marc, I do come here every game day just to read your writing. Thanks for that, as well as the interesting line-up.

  3. mariner_funk on April 25th, 2015 5:51 pm

    Yeah I think they are calling it, “put on the extreme shift” shift the DH to RF.

  4. kimalanus on April 25th, 2015 6:11 pm

    I thought Elias was starting at Safeco tomorrow?

  5. djw on April 25th, 2015 6:16 pm

    If Elias starts tonight, who is starting for the M’s tomorrow?

  6. Longgeorge1 on April 25th, 2015 6:19 pm

    Rick Waits said Elias on the radio. We will know for sure @ 7

  7. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2015 6:20 pm

    nice strike zone and defense tonight it looks like… could be a long one.

  8. Longgeorge1 on April 25th, 2015 6:22 pm

    Cruz hasn’t been that bad, has he? Better than Raul or Morse. Better than Saunders even as he at least shows up.

  9. californiamariner on April 25th, 2015 6:22 pm

    Unbelievably bad defense in the first, but Paxton is going to have to have better control the rest of the night.

  10. BoomBoom on April 25th, 2015 6:26 pm

    I tend to agree, Longgeorge. Cruz doesn’t run great routes to balls in the gap but anything hit straight at him, either long or short, he seems to get a good break. He moves better than I expected and has a good arm. If he keeps swinging the bat, he can play whichever position he wants for me.

    So far, no one has asked me to make out the card, though.

  11. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2015 6:44 pm

    C’mon Paxton! get your self under control, this is rediculous.

  12. Notfromboise on April 25th, 2015 7:02 pm

    A few Cruz Missiles (tm?) can more than offset any ZEM-deficiences. Believe me, preseason i was scared to death of Ibanez 2.0 out there in right field, but he really hasn’t been that rough out there.

    I mean even worst case scenario is that nba 2 guard type who scores 25 but gives up 20 on the other end. It’s still a net gain. Especially considering last season any runs saved by decent RF defense was offset by lack of production at the plate.

    If it was that big of an issue we would have nabbed Ichiro in the offseason for the reunion tour. It is, however, kinda puzzling how we were given the idea of a Smith/Ruggiano platoon in Right with Cruz DHing before the season and that hasnt been what we’ve seen hardly at all, really.

  13. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2015 7:33 pm

    Mr. Gold Glove with 2 errors tonight. I’m glad its still early in the season, this has been a nightmare so far to start the season.

  14. msfanmike on April 25th, 2015 7:35 pm

    Defense fail

  15. californiamariner on April 25th, 2015 7:38 pm

    Paxton struck out 7 in 4.2 IP and should have given up 1 run. But ugh…

  16. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2015 7:38 pm

    already at 100 pitches, has had horrible control all night.. and gets left out there in the fire to give up runs, where’s the logic in that non-move.

  17. californiamariner on April 25th, 2015 7:43 pm

    These short outings have to be taking a toll on the bullpen. Thankfully, Felix Felix’d last night and Thursday was an off day.

  18. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2015 7:51 pm

    What bugs me, is a scenario from last night, Felix gets out of an inning with I think it was 11 pitches, and I was happy, saying to my self “now lets get Hughes’ pitch count up there and see what we can do” and then 4 pitches later, Felix is back out there pitching… the lack patience shown in some of these games is staggering..

  19. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 8:35 pm

    The Twins are hitting Funky Fresh pretty well right now.

  20. msfanmike on April 25th, 2015 8:37 pm

    Good gawd – this team is freaking annoying.

  21. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2015 8:39 pm

    Must be nice to have a team that is capable of hitting mediocre pitching, hats off to the twins..

  22. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 8:47 pm

    WHOA. Mikey Z actually took a walk?!

    On a side note – I remember back when Zunino first came up, I made a comment about how I’d be disappointed if he hit like Olivo, but I’d take it with the defense. Now I’m praying he someday hits as well as Olivo.

  23. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 8:50 pm

    Mr. Jackson!

  24. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 8:55 pm

    There are advantages to playing an awful team… you’re never really out of a game, for example.

  25. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2015 8:57 pm

    Just tuning in… (movie night with the kids) Austin Jackson welcomed me nicely, that was quite a crank, to the back wall of the bullpen…

    What happened with Seager? 2 Errors? That’s very unSeager-like…

    And Gameday is showing only 5 earned runs for the Twins, so 3 were gifts it sounds like…

  26. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 9:03 pm

    I wonder if Seager is trying to force it a bit.

  27. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 9:04 pm

    Elias is starting tomorrow? I thought he was looking fairly bad down in Tacoma…

  28. californiamariner on April 25th, 2015 9:30 pm

    Weeks, Zunino, Bloomquist to lead off the 9th. Just how I like it. If 2 of them get on I’m calling extra innings!

  29. Westside guy on April 25th, 2015 9:39 pm

    Well at least Bloomie tried to help you out, CM!

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