Game 45, Mariners at Rays

marc w · May 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

JA Happ vs. Alex Colome, 4:10pm

Yesterday’s game worked out pretty well, and the game plan for today’s pretty similar. Alex Colome’s a right-hander with a good fastball, a four-seamer with lots of vertical rise and almost no horizontal movement. In that respect, he’s likely roughly EVERY OTHER STARTER THE M’S HAVE FACED ON THIS TRIP*. Seriously, this is kind of interesting to me. The M’s recently faced the Orioles, whose starters feature an abnormally high average “rise” on their fastballs, and now they face the Rays, who actually lead the league in rising fastballs. The Rays take it a step further in another way, though. The Orioles rotation features guys with big four-seamers, but many of them (like Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen) mix in some sinkers as well. Not too many, as the Orioles rank 3rd in MLB in the percentage of four-seamers (FA in Fangraphs’ leaderboards) thrown by starters. The Rays again lead the league in four-seamer percentage, as they’ve all but eliminated sinking fastballs. If you add sinkers and two-seamers together (I still don’t know that there’s an actual distinction here), you find that the average team throws about 23% sinking fastballs, with the Pirates nearing 40%. Only the Rays are under 10%, at just over 7%, and much of that’s come courtesy of Erasmo Ramirez, who clearly isn’t endearing himself to the Rays or their fans at this point, and Drew Smyly, who’s out for the year. The gap between the Rays and Yankees in 2nd place is larger than the gap between the Yankees and Marlins, down in 9th place.

So the Rays – even more than the Orioles – clearly put a premium on establishing rising four-seamers. It’s an interesting approach, as you might expect it to reduce BABIP and contact, but result in tons of HRs. You can kind of see the opposite approach at work down in Houston, where the Astros rank last in four-seamers thrown overall, and 2nd in GB% behind the like-minded Pirates. The Astros HR/FB is a bit higher than the Rays, but by limiting the denominator, they rank fairly well in HR prevention, and as a result, they’ve got a team FIP of about 3.6. The Rays give up fly balls, but also get more strikeouts and have fewer baserunners, and, thanks to the likes of Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria, run a low BABIP. The puts and takes are quite different, but the Rays end up with a team FIP of 3.7, and an ERA that’s a bit better than that. Neither team spends a ton of money period, and the Rays spend little on their rotation. They just cut their highest paid pitcher overall (Grant Balfour), and with Drew Smyly, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore rehabbing, the most expensive starter is Chris Archer, pulling in just over $1m per year. This pitcher type might be a way to cobble together a decent rotation – or rotation depth – on the cheap. I don’t think the Rays went into the year planning on Alex Colome and Nate Karns getting a ton of innings, but they’ve been decent when the Rays needed them.

So, back to Colome: his FB comes in around 95, and in prior years he’s been a change-up/slider pitcher. He developed a curve ball in 2014, and has been throwing that a bit more in 2015, particularly to lefties. But the big change in Colome’s repertoire is a move away from a slider and towards a firmer cutter (yes, the same move Odorizzi’s been making too). He always had a very hard slider – it was 88mph last year and it’s 87 this year, but the cutter’s even harder than that. It has very little horizontal movement, and as you’d expect, a bit less vertical drop. In 5 starts thus far, Colome’s control’s noticeably better – his walk rate’s under 3% despite throwing an average number of pitches in the zone. He can apparently throw a strike when he needs to. That said, his contact rate’s been rising, and he’s not the swing-and-miss guy he seemed like he might be when he debuted back in 2013. His splits have been all over the place in a very small sample (this’ll be his 12th big league start), and given the changes he’s made to his pitch mix, there’s just not much to go on there.

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

The M’s are sending down Danny Farquhar to Tacoma to make room for Austin Jackson. That makes some sense, but it’s really just prolonging the big decision point facing the M’s. The club doesn’t want to go with six bullpen arms indefinitely, so this just buys them some time while they figure out if they want to option someone like Chris Taylor or jettison a vet like Dustin Ackley, Rickie Weeks or Justin Ruggiano. Bob Dutton’s blog post covers the options quite well.

Yesterday’s late loss dropped the Rainiers to 18-27. They face Omaha today, but haven’t named a starter at this point. With Taijuan Walker struggling, many would like to see the struggling righty switch places with someone in the Rainiers’ rotation, but that’s a bit tougher than it looks. Mike Montgomery’s on the 40-man and has pitched fairly well, but the team may want to get him more work in AAA – he’s struggled at the AAA level since 2011, and the M’s may want to take it slow with the talented but enigmatic Montgomery. Justin Germano would require a 40-man move (which isn’t THAT big of an impediment at this point thanks to the maybe-still-dinged-up Edgar Olmos), but hasn’t logged significant MLB time since 2010. McClendon favorite Jordan Pries was ineffective and is now hurt and another guy with big-league experience, Mike Kickham, was ineffective and then cut, so after that you’re looking at very short-term solutions like giving someone a spot start or two. If you’re going to do something like that, you may as well just have a bullpen day with Tom Wilhelmsen starting, so the M’s are in something of a bind here. The M’s need Walker to improve, and there just isn’t much depth behind him at this point.

Jackson, who you’ll remember rank last in the Southern League in ERA, face Montgomery today as Edwin Diaz tries to figure out AA. The righty’s had two sub-par starts in his introduction to the high minors, and now faces the SL’s 2nd-ranked offense.

Bakersfield lost the series finale to High Desert by a score of 4-3. Today’s an off-day, and then they’ll take their last-place offense to league leading Visalia. Austin Wilson hit his 3rd HR yesterday, which is something.

Clinton’s got the best record of the M’s affiliates at 21-24, and they’ll have Zack Littell – coming off a strong start where he threw 6 scoreless – on the mound against Peoria today. The L-Kings swept a double-header yesterday, taking game 1 5-1 over Burlington behind Lukas Schiraldi, and then winning the nightcap 2-1 on a 7th inning walk-off single from Chris Mariscal.

* Except Mark Buehrle, who at this point isn’t terribly similar to anyone.


38 Responses to “Game 45, Mariners at Rays”

  1. VikingArthur on May 26th, 2015 3:56 pm

    Let’s get a win!! Something is definitely HAPPening today!

  2. bseblfevr on May 26th, 2015 5:33 pm

    is it me or does Aaron Goldsmith stink on TV (I don’t listen on radio)? I’ve grown accoustomed to Dave Sims..can we have him back on TV please!!

  3. Jake on May 26th, 2015 5:52 pm

    Goldsmith doesn’t seem comfortable on TV at all. He almost calls it like he’s on the radio.

    Sims, however, is horrible. Please keep him away.

  4. Westside guy on May 26th, 2015 6:11 pm

    I like Dave Sims and Mike Blowers. I think Goldsmith is quite good too (on radio, at least).

    I’m not a Rizz fan, though. I think he’s fine when he’s specifically doing play by play, but his overall on-air persona rubs me the wrong way.

  5. ensignofcommand on May 26th, 2015 7:02 pm

    I’m starting to like this Seager guy as well.

  6. Longgeorge1 on May 26th, 2015 7:03 pm

    I kind of like Kyle myself – nice GS

  7. Woodcutta on May 26th, 2015 7:32 pm

    I don’t like Sims and am getting tired of all of these “company men” but please, I beg you ROOT, no more Buhner.

  8. Longgeorge1 on May 26th, 2015 7:35 pm


  9. Grayfox3d on May 26th, 2015 7:38 pm


  10. G-Man on May 26th, 2015 7:38 pm

    Would Miller or Ruggiano have caught that in left?

  11. Woodcutta on May 26th, 2015 7:38 pm

    ALL ABOARD!!! Rodney Experience under way.

  12. msfanmike on May 26th, 2015 7:39 pm

    Now “this” is some classic Rodney … And not a minute too soon.

  13. Grayfox3d on May 26th, 2015 7:43 pm

    Really guys? perfect double play set up…. just thrown away.

  14. msfanmike on May 26th, 2015 7:44 pm

    Oh for crapping out loud. Mr Cadillac fucked up that throw. Looked cool doing it, though.

  15. G-Man on May 26th, 2015 7:44 pm

    Rare bad throw from Cano.

  16. Woodcutta on May 26th, 2015 7:45 pm

    So…that happened.

  17. WTF_Ms on May 26th, 2015 7:47 pm

    So, it wouldn’t have made a difference if Rodney wouldn’t have WALKED THE BASES LOADED!!!

    How many times does he have to do this, before we put Tom W. back in as closer?

  18. Woodcutta on May 26th, 2015 7:49 pm

    What was that?

  19. mrakbaseball on May 26th, 2015 7:50 pm

    Speaking of Aaron Goldsmith, it’s kind of strange for a broadcaster, radio or television, not to have a home run call, especially with a team that has had or has “Fly Away” RIP Niehaus, and “Goodbye Baseball” used. It’s Goldsmith’s third season with the M’s, you would he would have come up with one by now.

  20. WTF_Ms on May 26th, 2015 7:50 pm

    And Seager for the win. Despite Rodney. :fingers crossed:

  21. Longgeorge1 on May 26th, 2015 7:51 pm

    SEA – GAR!

  22. Section329 on May 26th, 2015 7:52 pm

    Seager makes this team almost watchable.

  23. msfanmike on May 26th, 2015 7:54 pm

    Thank goodness for Seager. It may get Rodney a very well deserved win. As long as Lloyd doesn’t put Rodney out there again for the 10th inning the team should be okay.


  24. msfanmike on May 26th, 2015 7:58 pm

    As far as Ackley is concerned – with his balky ankle they can probably DL him at any point and not have to “worry” about making any kind of permanent move. What a huge overall disappointment. He’s capable of pretty long stretches of production, but it definitely is overcome by extended tours of suck.

  25. Longgeorge1 on May 26th, 2015 7:58 pm

    The two DUMBEST scoring rules in Baseball
    1) You can’t make an error going for a Double Play. Per Cano’s throw
    2) A pitcher can get a win after blowing a save.
    Fernando Ole!

  26. msfanmike on May 26th, 2015 8:01 pm

    Beimel, huh.

    Go figure.

  27. Longgeorge1 on May 26th, 2015 8:03 pm

    Beimal and Smith are both better closers than Rodney. Oh well.

  28. Grayfox3d on May 26th, 2015 8:04 pm

    Beimel is closer of the future hurrah!

    Personally I would of pulled Rodney after the first two runners got on, but I’m just an arm chair GM like the rest of us.

    Not a good win but I will take it! lets get back to .500!

  29. G-Man on May 26th, 2015 8:05 pm

    Seager hits the GWHR “twice” and Rodney is 2-for-2 in blown saves becoming wins.

  30. ivan on May 26th, 2015 8:11 pm

    Nobody is going to even mention, much less question, that Lloyd had Cruz try to steal with nobody out in the tenth inning of a tie game on the road? Was he trying to out-Rodney Rodney or something?

  31. Adam S on May 26th, 2015 8:23 pm

    1) You can’t make an error going for a Double Play. Per Cano’s throw
    I don’t believe that’s the rule. You can’t assume a double play when scoring an error.

    So say bases are loaded with one out and batter hits a one-hopper to short (easy DP play), who boots it. Next batter homers. All runs are EARNED except the batter who reached on the error because you can’t assume it would have been a double play to end the inning.

    If the SS fields and flips to 2B and the 2B makes a bad throw to 1B, that’s an error. I did not see the play in question tonight. Going to look for it.

  32. Adam S on May 26th, 2015 8:29 pm

    Wow, the MLB rule does say that Cano can’t get an error. That’s indeed stupid. Tradition I guess.

  33. Longgeorge1 on May 26th, 2015 8:31 pm

    The first half of the DP an error is an error. Cano’s throw appeared to beat the runner at first, but pulled Morrison off the bag. No error! Only because it is going for 2nd out.

  34. ensignofcommand on May 26th, 2015 8:44 pm

    I don’t get it. I understand not expecting a double play, but I would assume that Major League second basemen convert chest-high feeds from third at a pretty high clip. Looked and quacked like an error but isn’t.



    I hope that chant catches on. I hate “Let’s go X.” It’s so impersonal.

    Sadly the best chant I’ve heard for a hometown player in the past few years was for Olivo. I didn’t even like him but I’d be there drunk belting, “Oh, oh, O-liv-O.”

  35. Dennisss on May 26th, 2015 9:15 pm

    If Lomo had not made a really good play, Cano would have gotten an error for letting the winning run score as well as the tying one.

  36. Celadus on May 27th, 2015 1:34 am

    Goldsmith’s not having a home run call is one of the things I like about him. Rizz’s “goodbye baseball” has always seemed artificial to me, as did Russ Hodges’s “bye bye baby” for the Giants way back when.

    And please, just tell Hat to go away. He takes time off from Mariner games to announce football games and, I believe, other sports. I can see that with secondary announcers, but your lead announcer should not voluntarily go elsewhere in the middle of the season.

    As far as the criticism of Goldsmith’s sounding like he’s announcing on radio when he’s announcing on television–that precise criticism could be made of Vin Scully. Better too much information than an endless stream of non-sequiturs and repetitions of what your color announcer just said, unless you are Groucho Marx or Jim Carrey or somebody like that.

  37. californiamariner on May 27th, 2015 8:10 am

    Nothing like a Fernando Rodney experience to drive up the comment count on here.

  38. LongDistance on May 27th, 2015 8:56 am

    … and/or a win.

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