Game 42, Mariners at Blue Jays
James Paxton vs. Mark Buehrle, 10:07am
Oh great, another absurdly early start.
The M’s face long-time foe Mark Buehrle, who’ll make his 18th career start against Seattle. The lefty’s fastball is now only about 85-86, but he put up a 3 fWAR season last year at the age of 35. He throws a four- and two-seam fastball, a good change-up, a cutter and a curve. Partly because he doesn’t strike anyone out, he’s known at least as much for his pace than his repertoire. On average, Buehrle’s delivered a pitch every 17 seconds or so, compared to a league average around 23. It’s early, but he’s cut another second off that average this year, averaging just over 16 seconds between pitches. With new rules in place to speed up the hitters that used to slow Buehrle down, it makes sense that his pace should be down a bit from his career numbers. By eschewing overthinking and routine, Buehrle shaves plenty of time off a game. This is how you come up with something like this: a game between the M’s and White Sox in 2005 that took 1:39 to complete.
Who’s the fastest worker on the M’s staff? It’s actually today’s starter, James Paxton, whose pace ranks 10th in the league so far (Buehrle is, obviously, #1). Paxton seems to have righted the ship a bit after a poor start, and he continues to benefit from a low BABIP, but his control issues have resulted in lots of hitters’ counts thus far. That may be part of the reason why he’s given up so many more fly balls this year than ever before. He’s still a ground ball guy, but definitely not as extreme as he was before 2015. Toronto’s obviously a place where fly balls get punished, as park factors or Mark Buehrle’s elevated HR rate will tell you.
1: Weeks, LF
2: Bloomquist, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Ruggiano, CF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Taylor, SS
Lots of righties today, but Buehrle doesn’t have much in the way of platoon splits.
Justin Germano starts for Tacoma today in Iowa. The I-Cubs topped Tacoma 10-9 last night, getting a walk-off win against Mayckol Guaipe in the 9th. Leon Landry and Carlos Rivero homered for the Rainiers.
Jackson faces Pensacola and enigmatic Reds prospect Robert Stephenson today. The Generals knocked Stephenson out in the 1st last month, but he’s still a guy with 97-98mph velo as a starter. The Blue Wahoos blanked the Generals yesterday 3-0. Jackson got 6 singles and 7 walks, but couldn’t get a timely hit to score a run. Today’s starter for Jackson is well-traveled vet TBD.
Bakersfield lost to High Desert 5-2, as Eddie Campbell did indeed get out of the first, but was knocked out after 2 IP and 5 runs allowed. That lowered his Cal League ERA to 37.13. Tyler O’Neill hit his 11th home run in the 8th. He’s got an OPS over 1.000 in May after struggling mightily in April. Still only 19, the OF from Maple Ridge, BC seems to have figured something out; his K:BB ratio was 31:1 in April, but just 15:6 in May, with the same number of ABs in each month. Ryan Yarbrough starts tonight for the Blaze.
Burlington beat Clinton 10-7 yesterday, despite two doubles from Gianfranco Wawoe. Tyler Herb starts tonight’s game against Jeremy Rhoades of the Bees.