Game 53, Yankees at Mariners

marc w · June 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Taijuan Walker vs. Masahiro Tanaka, 12:40pm

Early game today, as it’s getaway day for the Yankees. In the M’s last getaway day, Felix shut down the Rays at Tropicana. This is a very different situation, but c’mon Taijuan…you got this.

Mike Montgomery was effective yesterday, but the bullpen bullpenned, and the M’s playoff odds took another hit. In the past week, the M’s playoff odds have dropped by about 17% according to Fangraphs, and by about 12% according to BP. Essentially all of the drop has been in their odds of winning the AL West. Their wildcard odds haven’t really changed, but there’s less chance of the M’s catching both the Angels and Astros now. The last time I said the M’s needed to make a move was two weeks ago, and they did, finishing their road trip strong and heading home on a roll. Of course, even then, at something of a low ebb, their playoff odds were better, as less of the season had been played, and thus the M’s preseason expectations were driving more of the final win total. It’s time to make a move that lasts longer than a week, guys.

Masahiro Tanaka was supposed to be Hisashi Iwakuma plus – great control, unhittable splitter, plus a few ticks on the fastball. What he’s been is…ok, what he’s been is injured, but over his first 150IP in the US, he’s been more or less equivalent to Iwakuma. Now, the Yankees paid a boatload of money for Tanaka, and I think many expected a true ace, but being more-or-less-equivalent-to-Iwakuma is a damn good outcome for a pitcher. If there’s a problem, besides the whole injury thing, it’s that his fastball isn’t any better than Iwakuma’s. Tanaka’s four-seam is coming in around 91 this year, and he throws a sinker at about the same speed. But for whatever reason, it’s not as effective as Iwakuma’s 90mph heater. Iwakuma gets far more whiffs on his, and it’s taken deep less often. In his brief MLB career, batters are hitting .316 on Tanaka’s four-seam fastball, and are SLUGGING .614. On the sinker, it’s .322/.521, respectively. That’s…bad. Of course, Tanaka’s split is a legitimate weapon, and he throws it often enough that he can still be effective despite a pedestrian fastball. Tanaka’s breaking balls are also a bit more effective (thus far) than Iwakuma’s; Tanaka has an effective slider, while Iwakuma’s is mediocre.

Like Iwakuma, Tanaka has run reverse platoon splits thus far. It’s righties who do the most damage on his fastball, and they’re less likely to see a split. As a result, they’ve hit more HRs off of Tanaka despite facing him less often than lefties. Reverse platoon splits are often a weird anomaly, a byproduct of a small sample, but every once in a while, they’re meaningful. In Tanaka, all we have is a small sample, but I’m willing to bet that his splits are, for lack of a better word, “real.” Iwakuma has run essentially equal (his FIP against righties is a tiny bit worse than it is against lefties) splits over his career, after all. No, righties won’t continue to slug .700 on Tanaka’s fastball, but as long as he throws his best pitch to lefties more than righties, righties will have a slight comparative advantage.

Taijuan Walker’s fastball has essentially the same shape – the same movement – as Tanaka’s. Both more horizontally about 5″, and have 10″ of vertical rise due to backspin. Both have hard cutters with similar movement as well – a difference in horizontal movement of about 6″ or so from the FB, and 3-4″ less rise. As you might imagine, though, their splitters are very distinct. What Tanaka does that Walker hasn’t yet figured out how to do is generate serious drop with the pitch. Tanaka’s drops 8″ more than his fastball, while Walker’s is a bit less than 6″. It doesn’t sound like a lot, and the fact that Walker’s is fastball may have something to do with it, but it makes a difference. With more drop, batters see the pitch as a strike longer, and that leads to more swings out of the zone. Against Tanaka’s split, batters swing at *most* splitters in the zones below the bottom of the strike zone. Against Taijuan’s, they’re more likely to hold off. And that’s a big reason why Taijuan’s o-swing% is nothing special, while Tanaka’s is above average. The splitter is such an effective pitch because it can be thrown for balls and STILL generate swings. In 2014, Tanaka had the 3rd best swing rate on splitters, one spot ahead of Iwakuma, with a 63.3% mark, *despite* the fact he throws it out of the zone far more often than he leaves one IN the zone. When they’re not whiffs, swings at balls tend to generate bad contact, and thus it’s not a surprise that Tanaka (and Iwakuma) have run lower than average BABIPs – this is something Taijuan Walker really needs to learn how to do.

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

Six lefties. Damn.

Happy 40th birthday to the Seattle Times M’s beat writer and friend of the site Ryan Divish. Everyone have some Crown Royal in honor of a hell of a writer/twitterer.

Danny Farquhar’s first start was so-so – he went 3 2/3, giving up 2 runs on a HR to Derek Dietrich. He blanked New Orleans for three innings before the HR, so that’s somewhat encouraging. The Rainiers won the game 11-2, thanks to some great relief work by Justin Germano and a 4-5-with-a-HR day from Jesus Montero. James Jones, Pat Kivlehan and Shawn O’Malley also homered, and the Rainiers scored 8 runs off Justin Nicolino, who’d been excellent thus far. Today, Sam Gaviglio gets the start against the Zephyrs.

Jackson was swept in their doubleheader against the Mississippi Braves yesterday, losing 3-0 and 5-2. Victor Mateo blanked them for 6 innings in the first game despite not striking anyone out, and the Braves got 3 runs in the first (on a 3R HR) off Scott DeCecco, and then neither team scored after that. Gabby Guerrero had one of the Generals three hits, and also threw a runner out at 2nd. Moises Hernandez took the loss in the nightcap, giving up 4 runs in 3 1/3IP. DJ Peterson had two singles and C Marcus Littlewood had 3, but the Generals were held without an extra-base hit in both games. Today, Jake Zokan faces off against Tyrell Jenkins, an up and coming prospect who moved to the Braves as part of the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller swap. Jenkins had shoulder surgery in 2013, but returned in time for the Arizona Fall League last year, where he threw 93-94.

Bakersfield’s bats came alive yesterday in a 13-8 win over Rancho Cucamonga. Nelson Ward doubled and homered, and the Blaze pounded out 15 hits. Eddie Campbell struggled again, but had plenty of run support. The Blaze knocked opposing starter Zack Bird out in the first inning; maybe it helped that they’d faced him twice before. The Blaze are off today.

Clinton hosts Dayton tonight, and Tyler Herb will start for the LumberKings.


45 Responses to “Game 53, Yankees at Mariners”

  1. Woodcutta on June 3rd, 2015 1:27 pm

    The M’s sure are good at running themselves out of innings and runs.

  2. mrakbaseball on June 3rd, 2015 1:35 pm

    Can the M’s score at least four today?

  3. WestyHerr on June 3rd, 2015 1:44 pm

    I remember buying a Mad magazine when I was a kid. One of the segments was, The Most Boring Jobs In The World. It had an illustrated picture of a coach sleeping on a park bench. It read, “3rd Base Coach For The Seattle Mariners.”

  4. crowhop85 on June 3rd, 2015 2:19 pm

    Wow…what the heck is up with Cano?? The M’s as a whole look horrible again. K’s, can of corn fly balls, pop ups, etc…time for dramatic changes. They’re a third of the way through the season. After they swept TB things were looking up, but then they come home and look like crap..again. No one is hitting the ball hard. Nothing but soft outs inning after inning after inning…bleh..this is unwatchable. And Seager goes down looking again..he’s left handed, the pitch is down and in..isn’t that where he wants it??

  5. Seatt101 on June 3rd, 2015 2:24 pm

    Well pitched game by Walker so some improvement being shown to consider for the future.
    The hitting looks like it has done all year – the ball is far to small and the hitters are using fishing rods – Tanaka pitched 7 strike outs looking already!

  6. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 2:38 pm

    Happy Birthday Ryan Divish! Thank you for lots of great writing – I enjoy reading it, even in the cases where I disagree with it (which isn’t very often).

  7. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 2:42 pm

    Wow, Zunino’s K% is at 38.2% right now. Not surprising, but depressing.

    On a side note, when did Peguero go to the Red Sox? I was looking for a strikeout comp, and it appears Peggy is once again thoughtfully cooling off the overarm fans with gentle breezes coming from the batters box. His strikeout rate is back up, currently to 42%. So Jeff’s FanGraphs piece earlier this year may have been premature… (although he did seem skeptical about Peggy really changing long term)

  8. crowhop85 on June 3rd, 2015 2:47 pm

    And that about wraps it up. Bases loaded, one out, 3-0 count and LoMo strikes out swinging at ball 4. Then AJ grounds out. That about sums up the season so far.

  9. Jake on June 3rd, 2015 2:57 pm

    Cano hitting .244. I would expect this in around year 8 or 9 of the contract, but not the 2nd one.

  10. AuburnM on June 3rd, 2015 3:05 pm

    I’ve seen enough.

    Dump Rodney, Ackley and Rugiano. Bring up Guttierez and Montero

  11. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 3:06 pm

    With Cano I think the bigger worry is how quickly his power evaporated once he left the Yankees. If he already has no power, I worry that his aging curve might not be as gradual as we thought it would be.

  12. kaleyk on June 3rd, 2015 3:21 pm

    Nice game by Walker and Furbush. The M’s are, by far, the worst team in baseball with the bases loaded, batting .128. This game, 2 for 6 w/RISP but only 1 RBI. We’ve seen that quite a few times this season, a hit w/RISP that does not yield a run; and too often a hit w/RISP that yields only one run.

    Frustrating … the club has added Cano, Cruz, Seth Smith, and Austin Jackson. Seager has developed in to an excellent major league hitter. The “pieces” are there in Miller, Ackley and Morrison. Yet the offense is just like prior years… hitting poorly with RISP, hitting poorly with runners on base, and cannot score runs.

  13. Bremerton guy on June 3rd, 2015 3:35 pm

    This team has worn me down. A couple of years ago I didn’t think I could become more apathetic about the M’s, but I’ve surprised myself. I agree with Auburn M about dumping Rodney and Ackley and bringing up Guti and Montero. Geezus, how could it get any worse? I’m willing to give Ruggiano a bit more time, since Lloyd has misused him so far this season. But if they don’t do something quickly, people like me will stay away from the park in droves.

  14. mrakbaseball on June 3rd, 2015 3:48 pm

    But you will probably still watch on tv, catch a game on the radio. If people are going to divorce the Mariners, you got to do it completely.

  15. Bremerton guy on June 3rd, 2015 4:00 pm


    I haven’t watched an M’s game on TV in years. In fact, we don’t even get cable. As for radio, I rarely listen. About last night’s debacle, I checked GameDay off and on until the 9th, when I turned the radio on. I listened until Beimel gave up the HR, then turned it off and didn’t find out the Ms had scored another run until this morning. I’m proof that a baseball freak can become merely a casual M’s fan.

  16. Bremerton guy on June 3rd, 2015 4:02 pm

    And, I used to go to 10+ games a year. Last year I went to two. This year, I haven’t gone to any.

  17. kaleyk on June 3rd, 2015 4:07 pm

    I will never divorce the team …. I’m a fan, no matter how bad they are … and that gives me the right to bitch, whine and complain about the team!

  18. currcoug on June 3rd, 2015 4:09 pm

    Cano’s power may return this season, but the worrisome stat for me is his current .543 OPS against LHP. For most of his career, Cano has hit LHP (.779 OPS).

  19. mrakbaseball on June 3rd, 2015 4:34 pm

    Per Rosenthal, the M’s have acquired Mark Trumbo for Castillo, Leone and 2 other prospects. Zduriencik wants more dingers!

  20. Jake on June 3rd, 2015 4:35 pm

    Apparently the Mariners just traded Castillo, Leone, and two prospects to Arizona for Mark Trumbo and Vidal Nuno.

  21. ivan on June 3rd, 2015 4:41 pm

    Gabby Guerrero and Jack Reinheimer, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

  22. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 4:41 pm

    Another platoon righty that can’t play defense… we’ll have to see if the move actually makes a difference.

    But then, Jack Z is almost certainly on the hot seat.

  23. ivan on June 3rd, 2015 4:45 pm

    Oh give it a rest, will you? This is a nice offensive upgrade for precious little cost. There have to be more moves coming.

  24. AuburnM on June 3rd, 2015 4:46 pm

    Trumbo. Good. More corner outfield offense is one of the missing pieces.

  25. VikingArthur on June 3rd, 2015 4:49 pm

    Getting Nuno (who will be serviceable) and Trumbo for a collection of either “guys” or lottery tickets is a good get. I am very pleased with this trade. Now go get Parra or someone similar and let’s go.

  26. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 4:51 pm

    What part of my statement do you think was inaccurate?

    (I agree the cost was low – I just don’t think he fits the need as well as you obviously do)

  27. ivan on June 3rd, 2015 4:52 pm

    The tradeoff in defense is real enough, if we see lineups with Cruz in RF and Trumbo in LF. But I don’t imagine Trout was available. The anticipated spike in offense is sorely needed.

  28. AuburnM on June 3rd, 2015 4:54 pm

    I withdraw my earlier statements about Montero and Franklin G. With just a little research I found out that neither is big league ready.

  29. currcoug on June 3rd, 2015 4:59 pm

    In terms of what we gave up, that is a fairly steep price to pay for a guy that will be a free agent in 2017.

  30. VikingArthur on June 3rd, 2015 5:06 pm

    What is “steep” about it? We gave up basically NOTHING. Guerrero is a non-prospect in any real system.

  31. bookbook on June 3rd, 2015 5:10 pm

    Trumbo is an excellent way to solve the team’s OBP woes!

  32. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 5:13 pm

    I do have to admit we don’t know who else was available. I’d have liked to see a lefty hitter, since I feel like that’s really the team’s biggest offensive need – but maybe there’s just not one out there.

    Trumbo isn’t hopeless against righties, in any case – he’s merely league average. And I worry about a righty coming in to Safeco, which tends to eat a lot of righties alive.

    I also have to admit Ackley isn’t exactly providing stellar defense out there in left field.

    So really, even though I don’t share the same optimism some of you have regarding the move… it’s at worst a lateral move, and maybe it will indeed improve the team somewhat. They certainly have to do something, since the window is closing.

  33. ivan on June 3rd, 2015 5:21 pm

    Fairly steep price? Really? Part of the reason I like this trade is that he came so cheap. Sorry to lose Guerrero, but I figure he is three years away, minimum. The rest of them? A big fat meh.

  34. ck on June 3rd, 2015 5:22 pm

    Would A Mariner GM ever strip the Farm to save his job ?

  35. Jake on June 3rd, 2015 5:26 pm

    You don’t remember when Bill Bavasi did that same thing?

  36. currcoug on June 3rd, 2015 5:34 pm

    We arguably gave up Medina for nothing as well. I have a hard time believing the Diamondbacks would have nixed the trade if Castillo hadn’t been included.

  37. mksh21 on June 3rd, 2015 6:15 pm

    WestyHerr, I remember that Mad Magazine, I thought it was ticket scalper for Mariners world series tickets. Maybe they made fun of them twice lol.

  38. Dennisss on June 3rd, 2015 6:47 pm

    Trumbo isn’t a star, but the Ackley/Weeks tandem in left has been awful. Probably Jack just wants to see both of them on the bench (or retired) rather than continuing to run them out there every day. Maybe this portends the end of the Rickie Weeks experiment — that would be welcome.

    I don’t see this trade as being very consequential, but I’m fine with it.

  39. groundzero55 on June 3rd, 2015 6:47 pm

    “I withdraw my earlier statements about Montero and Franklin G. With just a little research I found out that neither is big league ready.”

    Guti is beyond big league ready considering he’s a big league vet who’s in AAA because of his injury history. I also have very little doubt that if called up he would instantly be one of our best overall hitters.

  40. Dennisss on June 3rd, 2015 6:53 pm

    Speaking of Weeks, this team has been very innovative when it comes to moving people around — Chone Figgins to second base, Montero to first, Miller and Ackley to the outfield, Farquhar a starter, Weeks from second base to left field…has any of that ever worked?

    Maybe Maurer to the bullpen…

  41. Jake on June 3rd, 2015 7:02 pm

    Brandon Morrow from college starter, to reliever, to starter, screwing up his development.

    It’s a never ending circus of position, or role changes.

  42. californiamariner on June 3rd, 2015 8:09 pm

    So does anyone know which position player is going away? Unless I’m missing something, it seems like Trumbo and Sucre will replace Castillo. Weeks goes away? Ackley?

  43. MrZDevotee on June 3rd, 2015 8:47 pm

    re: Has changing positions ever worked…

    Seager was a 2B, so that’s a big yes as a Gold Glove 3B.

    Currcoug– Castillo was actually the key to the trade, because the Diamondbacks just lost their catcher for the season (Tuffy Gosewisch, blown ACL). Their GM said as much, that they needed depth at catcher with Saltamacchia now playing everyday.

    I like Trumbo, but find it a bit odd that our two struggles offensively (OBP and batting average) won’t be addressed by this move. Our power stats are actually pretty good.

    And I personally think giving up Gabby Guerrero in the deal was a mistake for 1 1/2 years of Trumbo.

    As for “who goes away” I’m gonna guess Ruggiano… He just hasn’t seemed to gel with the rest of the team, and hasn’t provided much when given innings/at-bats.

  44. ivan on June 4th, 2015 7:05 am

    They need Ruggiano one HELL of a lot more than they need Weeks. Ruggiano has been a disappointment so far — I know he’s a better player than he has shown — but Weeks is less use to this team than Bloomquist is. There, I said it.

    If we’re going to see lineups that have Trumbo in LF and Cruz in RF, there has to be a late-inning defensive replacement for at least one of them on the roster. Ruggiano fills that role perfectly.

  45. currcoug on June 4th, 2015 9:35 am

    MrZDevotee – saw that, although Stewart wasn’t that high on Castillo (see, Miguel Montero trade). My main point is that we essentially gave up Castillo, Medina, Leone, Guerro, and Reinheimer for Trumbo/Nuno…and IMHO, that was steep and expensive in terms of the players given up, and what Trumbo will make 2015-2016. Guerro is arguably a 5 tool prospect who could really be something if he cuts down the SO’s.

    I would have liked to have seen a prospect come back to Seattle in the trade.

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