Game 55, Rays at Mariners
JA Happ vs. Jake Odorizzi, 7:10pm
Man, this is getting pretty tiring. The M’s are again creeping up to the edge here. No one’s mathematically eliminated in early June, but the M’s playoff odds – the ones that are *still* giving them credit for their lovely preseason projections – have the M’s odds down at 30% and dropping fast. The M’s are behind a boatload of teams, and the Astros have held off regression long enough to give themselves quite a cushion if it comes. The Angels aren’t terrible, and even the RANGERS aren’t terrible. Even worse, Minnesota’s gotten off to such a strong start that they can remain in the wildcard chase for months. The Central’s strong start means that the wildcard bar may be higher than we thought. This is the context into which Jack Z dropped the Mark Trumbo trade, and, I think, part of the reason it hasn’t been well received. Will Mark Trumbo make the M’s into what the projections thought they were? No, not by himself he won’t. But if the standard of a trade is whether it makes a disappointing, flawed team into a contender (like they were supposed to be), then essentially no trades can be judged “good.” The M’s got some MLB talent and gave up less-good MLB talent plus some minor league lotto tickets. The M’s may still lose, but hey, an upgrade *somewhere.*
One of the side benefits of bringing in Trumbo is that it gives the M’s another righty bat, and one that they’ll actually use when appropriate. Like, for example, tonight. As I mentioned the last time the M’s faced Jake Odorizzi, they need to get their lefties in the line-up. A guy like Erasmo whose change is better than his breaking stuff can run even splits. James Shields’ career splits are essentially even too for the same reason. Jake Odorizzi seems to be taking that a step further. Obviously, it’s too early to really know, because he’s only been a splitter hurler for 1 year and a few months. But in that time, his splits are quite remarkable. His K rate is driven almost exclusively by striking out lefties. This year, his K:BB ratio to lefties is over 7. To righties? Just 2.33. All 5 of his HRs this year have been to righties, and righties have faced him *less* often than lefties. Last year, the picture wasn’t as extreme, but it was fairly close. His FIP to lefties in 2014 was 3.15. To righties, it was 4.46. The M’s *need* to have righties in the line-up. They had 4 in the line-up back on May 25th. Let’s see how they do tonight:
1: Morrison, 1B
2: Cano, 2B
3: Cruz, RF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Trumbo, DH
6: Smith, LF
7: Miller, SS
8: Zunino, C
9: Ackley, CF
In other baseball news today, the Athletics have brought up SHP Pat Venditte to the big leagues. He’ll be flying into Boston to join the team just before gametime, so it’s not clear if he’ll pitch tonight, but when he does, he’ll be that rarest of breeds, the switch pitcher (hence the “SHP” tag that the A’s used in the press release). Venditte was a Yankee farmhand for many years, and despite some solid numbers, never made the bigs. With the A’s bullpen still in freefall – they just outrighted Dan Otero – they finally called up the still-effective Venditte. Intra-divisional rivalries be damned, I’m rooting for Venditte and can’t wait to see him pitch.
This story out of Anaheim is pretty crazy. Their VP for ticket sales essentially says on the record that they’re perfectly happy with declining ticket sales, because the attendance they DO have is trending wealthier, and thus the per-capita revenue per fan makes up for lost ticket sales. The Angels attendance really has dropped, but it appears that doesn’t bother the club, because poor people don’t buy as many souvenirs. I think many people have made the perfectly valid point that many, many teams probably *feel* the same way, but the cavalier way Robert Alvarado talked about this on the record is kind of breathtaking.
The Rainiers beat the New Orleans Zephyrs by a score of 6-1 last night, getting another strong start from Forrest Snow, and 2 hits (including a HR) from Shawn O’Malley. Tyler Olson moves back into the starting role he had last year in AA, and he’ll get the start tonight in the last game of the Rainiers’ homestand. Gorgeous night for baseball if you’re in the area – gametime’s 7:05.
The Jackson Generals were held hitless for 8 innings last night by the ruthlessly efficient Jake Brigham of Mississippi. Dan Paolini led off the 9th with a double and eventually came around to score a meaningless run in the 8-1 loss, but Brigham finised the CG with just 96 pitches, striking out 10 and walking none. Jimmy Gilheeney starts tonight for Jackson against Eastern Washington native and Oregon State product Jorge Reyes, who’s been great in relief, but is making just his 2nd start on the year. He reached AAA a few years back in the Padres org, but was traded to Atlanta last June.
Bakersfield beat Visalia 5-2, with Dan Altavilla throwing 7 strong innings (9 Ks) for the win. Only a solo HR by one-time M’s draftee Kevin Cron marred his line. Lefty-hitting 2B/SS Nelson Ward had another 2 hits for Bakersfield, and the Georgia product is 4-7 in two games with the Blaze, including a HR and 2 doubles. Tyler Pike takes the hill tonight for Bakersfield.
Clinton lost to Dayton 4-2, who scored 3 runs late to win it. Both starters, Pat Peterson for the L-Kings and Wyatt Strahan for the Dragons, pitched well, but Dayton won the bullpen battle. Lukas Schiraldi starts tonight for the Lumberkings, while Dayton sends up Junior Morillo, who’ll make his first appearance of the year after making just one all of last year.