Game 34, Red Sox at Mariners

marc w · May 14, 2015 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Joe Kelly, 7:10pm

Ah, the Red Sox. Some of my favorite memories of Safeco have come from games against the Red Sox, including a sweep-clinching victory in 2007 wherein Ryan Feierabend gave up about a dozen 390′ fly balls that Ichiro managed to track down. Of course, most memories of Red Sox series in Safeco aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. The Sox have been good, the M’s have been bad, and there are way, way too many people in Red Sox gear.

Last night’s game was a tough one. James Shields did indeed leave some pitches hanging, but with one exception, the M’s couldn’t quite barrel them up. A ball that Nelson Cruz fouled back early on and a Zunino miss on a high fastball stick out, but they were far from the only offenders. On the positive side, that’s another quality start for Tai Walker, who now needs to follow it up with several more.

Tonight’s contest features extremely hard throwing righty Joe Kelly, who the Sox picked up from St. Louis in the John Lackey deal. Kelly throws a sinker at around 96-97, and has a slider and curve as well. In the past, his change-up and four-seam fastball were afterthoughts, as he threw them once or twice a game. This year, though, the four-seam is now a major part of his arsenal, at about 1/4 of his pitches. Before 2015, Kelly was known as one of those confounding pitchers who throw incredibly hard and yet don’t get strikeouts and whiffs – he was a Henderson Alvarez type with a high GB% and not much else. At least Alvarez never walked anyone – Kelly’s walk rate’s pretty standard, or even a bit higher. Still, you can see how it’s supposed to work – pitch to contact, but have the velocity take the sting out of much of that contact. Ideally, you’d get a GB pitcher with better than average BABIP, or better than you’d expect given his batted ball profile. As it happens, that’s what Kelly’s done over his career. From 2013-15, he’s put up BABIPs of .289, .274 and .277 (league average is .295 this year).

The Red Sox and/or Kelly may have wanted a bit more out of that 97mph heat, though. By using his four-seamer more, and actually attempting to get Ks with his breaking ball (he’s using them more in 2 strike counts than in previous years), Kelly looks like he’s trying a modified approach. It worked brilliantly in his first start of 2015, where he set a new career high in Ks against the Yankees. But it’s come at a cost. Fewer sinkers have resulted in fewer grounders. More fly balls – and his FB% has jumped from 23.7% last year to 34.3% now – have meant more home runs. And while his BABIP’s still low, he’s been terrible with men on base. With no one on, he’s giving up a wOBA of .254. With men on, it’s .396, and it just goes up from there if they’re in scoring position. In one sense, this is encouraging – guy making some adjustments, and has an undeserved 6+ ERA. That sequencing luck will probably turn around, but the HR issue is tougher. Sure, his HR/FB is up, and thus his xFIP isn’t too bad, but as a control-challenged righty who now yields more FBs, we can’t expect his HR rate to fall all the way back to his own career average. Let’s see if the M’s can push it higher tonight. Kennedy and Shields were guys they needed to be somewhat aggressive with, but Kelly – coming off a game in which he walked 7 Blue Jays in 5 2/3IP – is someone to be patient with.

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

And there we have it, Brad Miller’s first OF start. He may get some work with the lefty Roenis Elias on the hill and a righty-dominated line-up against him. That said, Elias has had some GB tendencies, and the Red Sox as a team hit more grounders than average.

The Rainiers were rained out yesterday, so they’ll play a doubleheader today at Cheney. Forrest Snow starts game 1, and Mike Montgomery will go in game 2. Head to Cheney if you don’t want to deal with an army of Sawx fans tonight.

Jackson faces Biloxi again, and look to get back in the win column behind Jake Zokan. He’ll face off with Hobbs Johnson, a 14th round pick out of UNC who’s put up gaudy ERAs but doesn’t have the raw stuff to rank highly on prospect lists.

Tyler Pike leads the Bakersfield Blaze against Rancho Cucamonga. Scott Barlow starts for the Quakes. Barlow’s a former 6th rounder the Dodgers grabbed out of HS, and who has a very good FB/Curve combo. He’s struggled to stay healthy, though, and his results haven’t been there in the past. Rancho topped Bakersfield 4-3 last night, getting a walk-off win in the 11th off newly-demoted RP Dylan Unsworth.


25 Responses to “Game 34, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. Longgeorge1 on May 14th, 2015 6:27 pm

    Brad Miller, the new Alex Gordon?????

  2. ck on May 14th, 2015 6:48 pm

    Thank you, Marc, for the post, and as always, the excellent scouting report on the opposing pitcher.
    It is written, if Thou can hit, a place will be found for Ye…

  3. Kazinski on May 14th, 2015 7:20 pm

    Ackley better figure something out, cause Miller looks like a viable option in lf.

    Ackley likely still can keep a job as a 4th or 5th outfielder, but he’s not playing like a starter.

  4. Paul B on May 14th, 2015 7:23 pm

    Ackley is definitely on the bubble. He and Bloomquist are the most expendable.

  5. Kazinski on May 14th, 2015 7:37 pm

    Weeks doesn’t look like he is filling an essential role either.

    I’d like to see Gutierrez called up as a platoon partner for Miller in left.

  6. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 7:40 pm

    It’s kind of crazy how day and night this team performs. Tuesday night we looked so good! hitting everything, now we cant catch a break yet again and look just as terrible as before.

  7. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 8:06 pm

    Prove us all wrong Zunino!!!!! please!

  8. mksh21 on May 14th, 2015 8:07 pm

    Base loaded one out. Something, anything LETS GO!

  9. mksh21 on May 14th, 2015 8:08 pm


  10. mksh21 on May 14th, 2015 8:10 pm

    just dumbfounded, time to start squeeze bunting I guess.

  11. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 8:17 pm

    Very fitting inning given the way our season has been.

  12. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 8:31 pm

    According to gameday, Pitch 3 and Pitch 5 on that Victorino walk were called balls, but looks to me like they were great pitches in the zone… Anyone watching the game see that sequence?

  13. Dennisss on May 14th, 2015 8:37 pm

    Cano is kind of quietly off to a really bad start.

  14. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 8:51 pm

    Pay attention Lloyd! the Sox are gonna teach you a thing or two about playing small ball.

  15. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 9:35 pm

    Seager is also having a terrible year to date…. ugh

  16. Kazinski on May 14th, 2015 9:39 pm

    Miller or Ackley would have gotten that.

  17. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 9:42 pm

    Lol we are so bad it hurts!

  18. msfanmike on May 14th, 2015 9:46 pm

    Great substitution Lloyd!

    Guti – stat!

  19. Grayfox3d on May 14th, 2015 9:46 pm

    Rickie Weeks ladies and gentlemen!

  20. Dennisss on May 14th, 2015 9:49 pm

    Weeks not so quietly off to a bad start. With him, there’s not so much reason to think it won’t continue.

  21. JE on May 14th, 2015 10:43 pm

    In my opinion the manager should have gone with what he had instead of all this pitch hit matchup stuff. We all know that Rodney doesn’t pitch well with a lead or tied, why was he brought in? Lloyd a lot of the time with his lineups etc does not put a player in a place to excel. Yes, some of them are playing poorly for lack of other words but he isn’t helping. And when something doesn’t work, don’t keep doing it. Learn from your mistakes. The whole team is in a fog even Cano is playing pretty average.
    Weeks is batting .192 – Miller .253
    Ruggiano .195 and Smith .267
    We saw the results on both substituions, learn!

  22. LongDistance on May 14th, 2015 11:16 pm

    They’re too tight.

  23. kaleyk on May 15th, 2015 9:17 am

    This team is struggling for offense (again). The team should make some changes to address that issue. Many other teams are making material moves. The obvious sore spot is Ackley with his .539 OPS and .086 BA with runners on base. In addition, Weeks has limited offensive capability and no defensive position. The solution is a DFA for Weeks, Franklin Gutierrez to the 25-man roster, and Ackley to the bench. Ackley is a capable defender, base runner, and bunter. He would also provide a LH option off the bench. Gutierrez can definitely defend left field and provide a legit RH bat behind Seager.

    Speaking of Seager, if he and Cano do not perform up to expectations, the team will not be playing in October.

  24. BoomBoom on May 15th, 2015 11:19 am

    I’m a diehard DTFT fan, but since he hasn’t played in a week…y’know…again, it seems unlikely Guti’s going to be a solution to anything for the M’s anytime soon.

  25. BackseatGM on May 15th, 2015 4:49 pm

    JE, re. Rodney. When you’re playing at home, if the game is tied going into the 9th there will be no save opportunity for the home team. A lot of teams use their closer in the top of the 9th, figuring he’s the best choice to keep the other team from scoring, and hope to score and win it in the bottom half. Otherwise, when do you use him? Not saying it’s the best call – it certainly didn’t work last night – but you asked why, lol.

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