Game 54, Rays at Mariners

marc w · June 4, 2015 at 5:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Erasmo Ramirez, 7:10pm

Old friend Erasmo Ramirez returns to Seattle tonight to take on one of the guys who replaced him in the Seattle rotation. Ramirez never really had a chance to crack the M’s in 2015, but that’s because he was never able to capitalize on a brilliant debut year in 2012. In 59 innings that year (and 8 starts), he wasn’t terribly consistent, but his change-up proved to be a plus offering, and his velocity was a better-than-advertised 94. For whatever reason, things fell apart quickly after that. He had some minor injuries, but he had them in 2012 as well. He became incredibly hittable, and hemorrhaged runs all of the sudden, in part because his breaking stuff never really improved.

More than that, though, he had – and has – two big problems. First, Erasmo’s always been awful with men on base. It’s the kind of problem that managers and others tend to psychologize, arguing it’s the product of a weak mind that can’t deal with pressure. I have no idea if that’s true, though I’m suspicious of it. Instead, it could be the result of issues pitching out of the stretch. Whatever the reason, though, Erasmo has allowed a slash line of .235/.310/.368 in his career with the bases empty. With anyone on, that rises to .279/.346/.467, and remember he’s spent most of his career in Seattle and the AL West. A number of pitchers tend to nibble a bit more with men on – maybe their walk rate will rise, but they give up fewer HRs. With Erasmo, essentially everything goes to pot. His HR rate is much *worse* with men on, AND his walk rate goes up, AND his K rate drops a bit. Even his GB rate drops markedly when there are men on, which is pretty important given that Erasmo’s given up almost nothing on the ground. His career OPS-against on grounders is .494. He gets into trouble when he gives up balls in the air, and he gets fewer grounders with men on, and got surprisingly few grounders overall in his tenure with the Mariners.

His other problem comes on the first pitch of at-bats. If batters put the first pitch in play, they’re hitting .392/.407/.700 off of Erasmo. The sample is obviously not huge (it’s 137 PAs), but that’s so striking, it makes you wonder. Erasmo fares much, much better in all at-bats that move through a 1-0 count. What’s going on? At the risk of doing some armchair psycho work myself, it may be that Erasmo’s so focused on getting ahead of hitters that he gets too much of the plate. After running comically low walk rates in the minors, control started to become an issue for him in the majors, particularly in 2013. Trying to avoid walks may have led him to overcorrect a bit on the first pitch. It’s too early to tell, but it looks like he’s doing a bit better job of avoiding the zone on his first pitch this year, though it’s been a down year overall for Ramirez.

2015 got off to about as bad a start as possible for Erasmo. He allowed 7 runs in 2 innings in his first start of the year, and came back 5 days later and allowed *9* runs in 3 1/3 IP. Banished to the pen after that, he was better, but he’s been fairly impressive since Tampa’s health woes have forced him back into the rotation. He’s made 5 starts since being moved back, and his RA/9 has been 3.13 over 23 IP. That’s…nothing much to talk about, but it’s a hell of a lot better than he started. Indeed, his season numbers still bear the scars of his first two appearances. Take them out, and his seasonal RA/9 is a very good 2.34. He’s coming off a strong start against the Orioles in which he tossed 7 scoreless innings, striking out 7 and walking just one. More intriguingly, Erasmo’s been generating ground balls again. This year, his GB% is 51.7%, up from 37.7% last year in Seattle. Erasmo ran out of time in Seattle, and I think the change of scenery may have been good for all involved. The M’s weren’t wrong to make the trade they made (they got Mike Montgomery in return), but I’d like to know a bit more about what Tampa’s done with him.

So, those breaking balls. In Seattle, Erasmo had a slider and curve he would always tinker with. Righties saw more of the slurvy stuff, while lefties got more change-ups. Because the change was simply a better pitch, he ran very slight reverse splits in Seattle. He wasn’t lost against righties, and had a better K:BB ratio, but gave up more HRs to righties than he did to lefties. And a big reason why was the lack of bite on his breaking balls. Righties hit 13 HRs off breaking balls – out of 17 total HRs. They slugged .556 on his slider and *.725* on his curve. Lefties have done some damage on Erasmo’s fastball, righties feasted on the bendy stuff. Roenis Elias’ curve has been a solid pitch, and thus he’s able to put away same-handed hitters very effectively – so effectively that he typically faces righty-stacked line-ups. Still, the curve functions pretty well against them, too, and that’s a big part of why he’s here and Erasmo’s in Tampa.

EDIT- Line-up changed; LoMo scratched.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Cano, 2B
3: Cruz, DH
4: Seager, 3B
5: Trumbo, 1B
6: Smith, RF
7: Miller, SS
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Elias

With Welington Castillo gone, the M’s have recalled Jesus Sucre. To make room on the active roster, OF Justin Ruggiano has been DFA’d. Odd decision, given that it seems to make Rickie Weeks and Trumbo your back-up OFs.

Tacoma beat New Orleans 6-1 last night, behind 8 scoreless innings from Sam Gaviglio. The red hot Jesus Montero homered in the first off of ex-Rainiers and M’s southpaw Travis Blackley. Tonight, Forrest Snow will start for the R’s against the Zephyrs’ Pat Misch.

Jackson beat Mississippi 6-3 last night, scoring 3 runs in the top of the 9th. Trevor Miller got the win in relief, and DJ Peterson doubled. Cuban lefty Misael Siverio starts tonight for the Generals, while Jake Brigham starts for the M-Braves.

Bakersfield returns home to face Visalia tonight with Dan Altavilla on the hill for the Blaze.

Clinton lost to Dayton 8-2, as Reds prospect Tyler Mahle threw 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and striking out 8 Lumberkings. Another prospect starts for Dayton tonight – USC-product Wyatt Strahan, who has a great hard, heavy sinker, but never knew where it was going in college. He’s still walking a few too many, but he’s been effective overall. Pat Peterson gets the ball for Clinton.


30 Responses to “Game 54, Rays at Mariners”

  1. ck on June 4th, 2015 5:44 pm

    Losing streak; a time that tests… I will continue to watch them on TV, but the wheels are getting shaky, out of alignment. Weeks is still here; as is Ackley’s beard. No one tell GM Z that Russell Branyan is probably available…

  2. joser on June 4th, 2015 5:46 pm

    Erasmo’s always been awful with men on base.

    So good news, Erasmo! Tonight you’re facing the team with the lowest On Base Percentage in the AL, and the third lowest in the majors!

    (You know how the Phillies were expected to be truly terrible and the Brewers have turned out to be truly terrible? Yeah, those are the only teams keeping the Mariners out of the basement on this metric)

  3. BoomBoom on June 4th, 2015 5:48 pm

    Let’s not forget we still have WFB as a backup outfield option. Good gravy.

    I said to a co-worker today, half in jest, that Jack would likely unload Ruggiano instead of Weeks, given the Milwaukee connection. Ruggiano wasn’t as solid an OF option defensively as I had expected and Lloyd didn’t seem inclined to play him much, anyway.

    I’ve always held a fondness for defense, even over offense, but I thought the way this roster was constructed in the winter, that at least they had offense to make the defensive liabilities far more palatable.

    Now, they can’t get on base, don’t’ score when they do and the defense is just painful. This is rapidly becoming…not fun.

  4. kaleyk on June 4th, 2015 5:53 pm

    Ruggiano may not qualify as a great outfielder, but at least he is a legit outfielder … Weeks is a second baseman, forced to the outfield. He has dropped easy fly balls and overthrown the base by 50 feet. Weeks has no business in any outfield! The team has pinch run for Weeks. So Weeks cannot run, cannot hit RH pitching, and cannot play any defense. Based on what we saw earlier this week, he can’t bunt. And overall, Ruggiano was hitting better than Weeks. So … either Weeks has dirty pictures of JackZ … or JackZ has lost his mind.

  5. marc w on June 4th, 2015 6:23 pm

    Yes, fair point…they still have Bloomquist as a defensive replacement. Apparently, NL infield experience is key to being a successful bench OF on the M’s.

  6. Kazinski on June 4th, 2015 6:38 pm

    If this lineup can’t score runs against Erasmo there is no hope.

  7. Eastside Crank on June 4th, 2015 6:42 pm

    Thanks Marc for keeping up with the analyses. It says something that people are still reading about the Mariners and making comments.

  8. mksh21 on June 4th, 2015 7:15 pm

    This is the lineup Ive been screaming for all season, why it took trading for Trumbo to make it happen I’ll never know.

    Cano-Cruz-Seager 2-3-4. This makes me happy

  9. Longgeorge1 on June 4th, 2015 8:18 pm

    If Erasmo becomes a quality starter, I am really thinking that there is something toxic in this organization.
    I am surprised that Marc cites a RISP stat. I thought that clutch did not exist.
    Seems like Erasmo has solved his RISP problem. Just needed to face the M’s.

  10. WTF_Ms on June 4th, 2015 8:22 pm

    A fricking hit would make ME happy…and leaving Seager stranded AGAIN ruins that happy….

  11. msfanmike on June 4th, 2015 8:33 pm

    Fucking Cano half asleep not watching the pitcher. Had a 3′ lead and got picked off. What a leader.

  12. Dennisss on June 4th, 2015 8:47 pm

    2 K’s for Trumbo — he’s fitting right in.

  13. marc w on June 4th, 2015 9:10 pm

    Longgeorge – it’s not a RISP stat. It’s a stretch vs. windup stat. I’m specifically trying to avoid RISP and its attendant psych-evaluations – “He doesn’t deal with pressure.” And I’ll admit that I don’t know for sure that it’ll stay the same, especially in a new org. But looking at the splits, Erasmo seemed to struggle with stranding runners.

    Lost in the miserable offensive night is another very good outing from Elias. What an amazing out-of-nowhere 4th starter he’s turned out to be.

  14. bookbook on June 4th, 2015 9:43 pm

    Elias and Seager — the crown jewels of the Jack Z minor league development system!

  15. Westside guy on June 4th, 2015 9:49 pm

    Apropos of nothing, I suppose, but – I thought I’d read somewhere (perhaps even here at USSM?) that some orgs are trying to develop their young pitchers so they always work out of the stretch?

  16. WestyHerr on June 4th, 2015 9:50 pm

    Great analysis of Erasmo.

  17. Dennisss on June 4th, 2015 9:59 pm

    Boooooo! Ten hits, 1 run, 1 for 11 with RISP. This team is not playing up to their abilities.

  18. SeattleDan on June 4th, 2015 10:00 pm

    It seems that some of these guys haven’t really bought into the plan to win. More and more, I’m thinking Lloyd is the problem. They don’t seem to be playing for their skipper.

  19. LongDistance on June 4th, 2015 10:54 pm

    SeattleDan. I wondered when someone would say that. The atmosphere is, indeed, getting Melvin-like.

    Have no fear. The Mariners manager’s office has a revolving door. Except for one exceptional exception, Mariners managers rarely last more than two years, given that their accumulated winning percentage was something like .420.

    True, one might expect that Lloyd’s got a bit of cushion because of last year. But if things don’t begin to change, the eventual backlash that will come down from high in passing the buck for failed expectations, will no doubt make his situation more frangible than it seems.

    We know how fast things can unravel between managers and Jack.

  20. ck on June 4th, 2015 10:55 pm

    Another solid pitching effort wasted by poor, offensive, offense. Rearrange the deck chairs on the sinking SS Mariners…time for Howard Lincoln to demand early BP for All Hands

  21. LongDistance on June 4th, 2015 11:17 pm

    That said, it’s getting frustrating watching Lloyd manage according to the Holy Playbook Bible of Baseball, not playing Ruggiano instead of Ackley for instance based only on lefty-righty lineups, and also for how he is so incredibly stuck on Rodney, when Carson Smith is … there.

  22. Woodcutta on June 4th, 2015 11:45 pm

    Anyone listen to Jack Z respond this these moves? He actually said these moves were based on performance. How the…what?

  23. LongDistance on June 5th, 2015 12:08 am

    If baseball only had one base, and all you needed was dingers, you could have Jack’s Dream Team of eight DH/1Bs.

    I’ve finally got it: Jack’s true game is, in fact, Cricket.

  24. MrZDevotee on June 5th, 2015 8:32 am

    Poor Elias… 3 or fewer runs in every start this season… A 2.94 ERA… And a losing record.

    So frustrating… We came home from the road trip, a .500 record in hand, felt like we finally were climbing back into things, and might get some momentum going, and then… 6 game losing streak. The balloon is empty again.


  25. MrZDevotee on June 5th, 2015 8:33 am


    No, Crickets is the sound we’ll start hearing in the stands at Safeco if they don’t start winning some more games.

  26. Bremerton guy on June 5th, 2015 10:45 am

    This team will never achieve anything as long as Jack Z is the General Manager. Yesterday’s DFA of Ruggiano instead of Weeks is merely the latest proof of the stubborn wrongheadedness Z has brought to this organization. Keep Lloyd and get rid of the man behind the curtain.

  27. mrakbaseball on June 5th, 2015 3:12 pm

    If you get rid of Zduriencok, his replacement will want his or her own manager.

  28. kaleyk on June 5th, 2015 3:50 pm

    Bremerton guy … I’m on that band wagon. Weeks over Ruggiano is indefensible. I’m not sure it’s worthy of termination, but I would sure like to hear one of the talking heads ask JackZ to explain.

  29. Dennisss on June 5th, 2015 5:24 pm

    I’m glad someone brought up the Weeks/Ruggiano thing, because it baffled me. Jack never seems to get enough of guys with power and little else to offer. Weeks’ last good year was 2011, and Ruggiano has been better this year in every phase of the game, including hitting lefties. Also, Ruggiano could be a defensive replacement or pinch runner. Weeks isn’t much good for anything.

  30. Westside guy on June 5th, 2015 6:42 pm

    I’m not sure why people are so attached to Lloyd, although I realize people do love colorful characters…

    It’s not like the dude has a successful track record, nor does his decision-making appear to be particularly good.

    He does seem to handle pitching well. Maybe he could be the next pitching coach.

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