Game 61, Mariners at Astros

marc w · June 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Brett Oberholtzer, 5:10pm

Happy Felix Day! This *does* feel like a suitable day for celebrating, with the Astros having lost seven straight and the Angels coming out of a bad stretch of games as well. Of course, even with the Astros slide, they’re still 3-7 in their last ten games…exactly the same as the M’s.

If you had said in early 2014 that one of the Astros rotation members would go on to post a very good year and re-fashion himself as an odd kind of ace, it’s highly unlikely you would’ve ID’d Dallas Keuchel. Instead, you would question why on earth anyone would think ANYONE on the 2013 Astros staff was capable of stardom, but if pressed by this time-traveling pedant, you might’ve gone for the other Germanicly-named lefty, Brett Oberholtzer. In less than half the innings, Oberholtzer posted a better fWAR than Keuchel on the strength of a better HR rate (though the low HR/FB made it seem a bit lucky) and a miniscule walk rate. He was no one’s idea of an ace, but this Beavan-plus thing looked decent in context (the context, of course, was a 111-game-losing tire-fire of a pitching staff).

Both Oberholtzer and Keuchel went into 2014 in the rotation, but while Keuchel and Collin McHugh blossomed, Oberholtzer got left behind a bit. It’s odd, because if anything, he pitched a bit better. His FIP in 2014 was 3.56, making him an above-average starter. He maintained that sparkling walk rate, and held the HR/FB regression gods at bay. His BABIP luck ran out, though, and his ERA was nowhere close to 3.56, so he didn’t look like an above-average starter, and he started to suffer blister problems to boot. A variety of health problems have slowed him in recent months, from a mild lat strain to a finger problem. Maybe that’s the reason he’s struggled a bit out of the gate in 2015. Thanks to an injury-plagued spring, he started in the minors, and in his 12+ big league innings, his control has left him a bit. It’s only a couple of starts, and he didn’t walk many in the minors this year, but he’s struggled, and it’s something to watch.

The biggest difference between Keuchel and Oberholtzer is vertical movement. Both are lefties throwing 89-90, both have nearly identical release points/arm angles, and both actually have similar four-seam fastballs. But Keuchel’s bread and butter is a sinker, and his other pitches also have good natural sink. Oberholtzer throws a sinker, mostly to righties, but it refuses to sink; it’s got more vertical rise than the average four-seamer. His best pitch is a change-up, thrown at 80 or so, but again, the pitch has good armside run, but little in the way of sink. In previous years, his only breaking ball was a curve at 79, but this year, he’s picked up a slider, and he’s using that as his primary breaking ball. He’s used his change to righties and lefties alike in the past, but he’s more likely to stick with breaking balls in 2015. The slider makes some sense in that he’s never really done well against lefties. He’s faced righties 3X as often, but that isn’t because he’s got Corey Kluber-like splits. They’re essentially even, with a much better K:BB ratio against lefties undone by HRs. It makes some sense – lefties have struggled against Oberholtzer’s fastball, while righties have fared well. But lefties (small sample alert) have feasted on everything else. Against righties, his solid change-up has been mostly effective, though they’ve punished the odd hanger. But righties seem to see his FB pretty well, and I’m pretty skeptical that a slider will help all that much against opposite-handed hitters.

All of that said, when ever I hear his name, I don’t think about his arsenal, his high flyball rate or his control. I think of the Dead Kennedys. “California, Oberholtzer, California OBer-Holtzer….”

1: Jackson, CF
2: Trumbo, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3b
6: Weeks, LF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Bloomquist, SS

Defense? Who cares. Look for strikeouts, Felix.

The draft’s complete, and you can review a list of all 40 selections here in Ryan Divish’s post-draft round up. Of special note is the brief interview with scouting director Tom McNamara regarding 20th-round pick Parker McFadden of Yelm. I’ll have a draft recap highlighting a few of the picks in a little bit too.

The Rainiers went to extra innings last night, but came away with a 3-2 victory thanks to a two-run, walkoff blast from Jesus Montero. The game was a pitcher’s duel between Rockies uber-prospect and #3 overall pick in the 2013 draft Jon Gray and Tacoma’s not-an-uber-prospect Stephen Landazuri. The latter has struggled mightily in recent games, and yesterday wasn’t really an exception, but he minimized the damage through 4 1/3. The Rainiers bullpen, which has really solidified in the past month or so, held the line until Edgar Olmos gave up a run in the top of the 10th, but Montero’s two-run shot won it. Jon Gray threw 100 in college and jumped from a 3rd-round prospect to the #3 overall pick. But he simply hasn’t shown that elite stuff in the minors, particularly the high minors – he pitched 8 strong innings, but struck out 4 with 3 walks. The PCL is not a cakewalk at all, but he’s given up 79 hits in 68 IP with just 45 Ks. His development is a bit reminiscent of his friend Eddie Butler, another righty with a huge fastball who was oddly hittable in the minors. From AA on, Butler just stopped missing bats, and while he’s safely in the Rockies rotation, he looks nothing like the potential #2 he was in A ball. Gray has gone from a guy with true ace potential to a game-manager type in the PCL, and while I’m sure he’ll be a big leaguer for years, the Rockies better figure out why. Is this an approach that they teach? Has his velocity fallen off markedly, as some scouts have suggested? I don’t know, but while he’s righted the ship after a disastrous start in 2015, he’s yet to demonstrate elite stuff in the high minors. Today, Justin Germano takes the hill for a firework Friday at Cheney.

Jackson also came away with an extra-inning victory, beating the Mobile Bay-Bears 6-4 in 11 innings. This was the first game the Generals faced off with their ex-teammates Jack Reinheimer and Gabby Guerrero, two prospects the M’s traded in the Mark Trumbo deal. The two ex-Generals went a combined 0-8. Jimmy Gilheeney started and through 6 decent innings, and then the game became a bullpen battle. The Generals won it when Adam Miller gave up 4 hits in the 11th; Trey Cochran-Gill saved it for Trevor Miller who threw two scoress innings. Today’s game is a prospect showdown between Edwin Diaz of Jackson and Aaron Blair for the BayBears – Blair’s the D-Backs #3 prospect, while Diaz ranked as the M’s #6 prospect.

Bakersfield’s Dylan Unsworth pitched effectively for 6 innings, but the Blaze couldn’t figure out the wonderfully-named Modesto starter Johendi Jiminian, who threw 7IP of shutout ball. Nelson Ward tripled for the Blaze’s only XBH. TBD gets the start for Bakersfield against Modesto’s Harrison Musgrave.

Clinton lost to Lake County 4-3 despite a HR from 1B Kristian Brito. Indians #9 prospect (according to BA; Sickels had him at #5), 1B Bobby Bradley, homered for the Captains. Zack Littell leads the L-Kings against Lake County lefty Justus Sheffield, the Indians #4 prospect and the 2014 national player of the year.


42 Responses to “Game 61, Mariners at Astros”

  1. Westside guy on June 12th, 2015 4:12 pm

    Sheesh, Weeks in left and Trumbo in right. Well, given that Cruz is normally in right, I guess we’re mainly talking about bad left field defense…

    I hope Jackson doesn’t pull a muscle trying to cover all three fields (not that he appears to be all that great anymore).

    I must say this lineup makes me wonder if Jack Z thinks “A Dangerous Experiment” was a “how to” article.

  2. mrakbaseball on June 12th, 2015 4:40 pm

    This lineup makes me wonder if Jack Z thinks…

  3. MrZDevotee on June 12th, 2015 5:22 pm

    Hey Westy-
    Don’t forget Willie B at short stop… And on cue– Hey, an infield single on a routine grounder to Bloomquist who has to do a dance to get the ball out of his glove.

    1 batter, 1 baserunner for Felix…

    He must wonder sometimes why Lloyd doesn’t like him?

  4. MacGumaraid on June 12th, 2015 5:25 pm

    I wonder sometimes why Lloyd doesn’t like US.

  5. Grayfox3d on June 12th, 2015 5:26 pm

    That escalated quickly…

  6. MrZDevotee on June 12th, 2015 5:33 pm

    Holy wow.

  7. Grayfox3d on June 12th, 2015 5:33 pm

    Why the hell cant we have nice things! excuse my french.

  8. Westside guy on June 12th, 2015 5:34 pm

    “Nice dive” by Willy, according to Sims. The ball easily got by him, but “nice dive” anyway.

    Yeah, that’s why real baseball guys like Jack and Lloyd and Wedge love him. Willie B is a sucky ball player (especially at this stage in his career), but he sucks the Right Way.

    Oh crap. See ya later, Felix.

  9. msfanmike on June 12th, 2015 5:37 pm

    This one was sure over early and often.

  10. Westside guy on June 12th, 2015 5:40 pm

    This is the first Mariners game I’ve chosen to watch in a while – and what a great choice I made! We’ll see how long I last…

    Oh, man.

  11. nvn8vbryce on June 12th, 2015 5:41 pm

    Man, looks like the M’s gas canned this game early… Did Felix look like he was injured?

  12. MrZDevotee on June 12th, 2015 5:43 pm

    So Felix’s first inning confirmed what everyone but Lloyd evidently already knows… Willie has no arm and no range, but other than that, is a completely suitable short stop.

  13. Westside guy on June 12th, 2015 5:51 pm

    Hey Willie seems to be playing 3B for Houston! Now if we can only get 7 or 8 more breaks like that…

  14. wtnuke on June 12th, 2015 5:52 pm

    The King came out looking like a jester this evening.

  15. mrakbaseball on June 12th, 2015 5:54 pm

    So when do they start selling?

  16. Longgeorge1 on June 12th, 2015 5:54 pm

    I am glad I am late to the game here 2nite. Looks as if we have solved the “closer” situation.

  17. MrZDevotee on June 12th, 2015 5:54 pm

    Willie is old enough to be half the Astros teams’ dad.

  18. Woodcutta on June 12th, 2015 6:07 pm

    The Astros FO sure knows how to build a team. If the M’s don’t make the playoffs this year or next year it could be another decade or so before they get close.

  19. kaleyk on June 12th, 2015 6:28 pm

    Come on guys, this game isn’t over… The Astros missed the extra point and it’s only 9-0 …… Seriously though, this game might be worth watching because W FB might get to pitch!!!

  20. JMB on June 12th, 2015 6:50 pm


  21. kaleyk on June 12th, 2015 7:02 pm

    A 10-0 lead and Oberholtzer walks Bloomquist?!?!?!?

  22. jak924 on June 12th, 2015 7:10 pm

    Time to start cleaning house.

  23. jak924 on June 12th, 2015 7:12 pm

    Any manager that puts Weeks and Bloomquist in the lineup at this critical phase of the season should be fired immediately.

  24. kaleyk on June 12th, 2015 7:19 pm

    In other news, Justin Smoak, in limited playing time, is hitting .278 with an OPS over .800 …… Meanwhile, Mark Trumbo is 4 for 31 with no extra base hits for the Mariners.

  25. Westside guy on June 12th, 2015 7:26 pm

    Smoak is having a nice season, and I’m not a fan of the Trumbo pickup… but Smoak had plenty of chances here. I expect he’ll revert to his old self, soon enough.

  26. mrakbaseball on June 12th, 2015 7:31 pm

    Congrats to Smoak on his first career triple!

  27. Westside guy on June 12th, 2015 7:43 pm

    Hey, now this is interesting! Sucre is pitching!

    I was really bummed a few years ago when we had a long extra-innings game in Tampa, and Olivo started warming up… but didn’t end up in the game. I think Miguel might’ve been interesting to watch.

  28. nvn8vbryce on June 12th, 2015 7:46 pm

    Hmmm… I’m thinking that I like Sucre more as a pitcher…

  29. JasonJ on June 12th, 2015 7:47 pm

    This garbage team gets 3-hit by Oberholtzer the day after getting 2-hit by Marcum….unbelievable.

  30. kaleyk on June 12th, 2015 7:47 pm

    Sucre out-pitched Felix. There is a sentence you never expected to read.

  31. mrakbaseball on June 12th, 2015 8:11 pm

    Kevin Mather, please feel free to wish Jack Zduriencik well, in his future endeavors.

  32. kaleyk on June 12th, 2015 8:44 pm

    Felix got handed his butt tonight… It happens, it happens to Kershaw, it happens to Scherzer, it happens to every pitcher once in a while. After the disastrous first inning, I have no expectation of winning the game. I would guess, against Oberholtzer, the M’s would scratch out a run or two and lose 10 to 2 or 10 to 3, whatever. Instead it seems like the offense said “screw it” and the team limped thru to the end. Just my perception, but the team lacks intensity and that is on the field manager. Of course McLendon is handicapped when half the roster is hitting below .200. I see no easy solutions.

  33. Bwilliam on June 12th, 2015 8:48 pm

    Please fire the GM.

  34. Sowulo on June 12th, 2015 8:54 pm

    Before we could overlook the current results of the M’s as there seemed to be a lot of talent in the minors….help was on the way! But now, the M’s and every one of their minor league affiliates all suck. That is on the GM. Time for a change.

  35. LongDistance on June 12th, 2015 11:59 pm

    Man, I was elsewhere and came on this flaming pile of whatever checking into the ESPN scoreboard in the 8th. It took a moment or two for my brain to come to grips with what it was seeing. Terrible for Felix, of course, but I wonder if we’ll ever see a team feel a need to put a shift on our offense. Lloyd said the team has been going through a phase, is “snake-bit”, spinning the idea this is just a stretch of improbable bad luck. I’m not sure. The pattern is getting predictable. So far, winning streaks extending beyond back to back wins, consist of one 4 game set and two 3 game streaks? OK, most of May was an OK month, after having snored their way through April. But this month they had to start digging themselves out. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to manage this team, given who I’d have to slot into half the defensive positions. But if they’re going to go through games scoreless, it doesn’t matter anyway.

  36. gerrythek on June 13th, 2015 8:07 am

    Hmmm. We start a series against the first place team in our division and the best shortstop we can put out there is Willie Bloomquist?

    If we have no better choice, fire the GM. If we had a better choice, fire the manager.

    Maybe a better defensive SS gets Felix out of a jam with only 1 or 2 runs and he settles down the rest of the way. Maybe that wouldn’t have mattered but still…

  37. csteavens on June 13th, 2015 9:06 am

    I’ve long since crossed over and now enjoy the Mariner’s annual ruination. Bwahahahaha. It would be different if the management showed some acumen or self-criticism, but it’s like watching them go out and assemble that warner brothers team year in year out, the gas house gorillas. They like big bruisers who who swing away. How is that interesting?

  38. justcruisn on June 13th, 2015 10:56 am

    Just saw that Weeks was DFA’d. Willie….you’re next. Other than Guti, not much help down on the farm….thanks Jack. Trumbo trade looking like a disaster. It will take 5 years to dig out of this hole, that’s IF we fire our GM. Otherwise, well, another 10-15 years of pathetic baseball. I think I have already purchased my last ticket. Sad.

  39. Westside guy on June 13th, 2015 11:07 am

    Richie Weeks just got DFA’ed out of necessity so they could bring up another reliever.

    I still think, given what the roster was a few weeks ago, Ruggiano would be worth more to this team than a number of players still on it today. However Jack Z’s roster decision-making is so messed up that no matter who you might get rid of (e.g. Bloomquist), keeping Ruggiano would introduce more holes.

    Remember in 2013 when we had an outfield rotation that included Ibañez (regular), Morse (regular), and Jason Bay; with Kendrys Morales, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak also on that roster? Remember how after it was over, people said “Oh, Jack will never do that again”? Well, I’m not sure he actually figured out all those immobile players was a bad thing.

  40. csteavens on June 13th, 2015 11:27 am

    The team badly needs to secure another slugger who can conquer Safeco, a scrappy gamer who isn’t afraid to get his uniform dirty, someone who knows how to hit in the middle of the lineup (please!), and someone with that intangible quality, I don’t know, a name we’ve heard a bunch of times over the years…Coco Crisp?

  41. LongDistance on June 13th, 2015 1:32 pm

    csteavens. Not to be snarky, but they have too many players with intangible qualities for the moment. What we needed were a few players with tangible qualities, especially in terms of OBP.

    Westy. Unfortunately, I’m finding myself remembering 2013 way too much. Ibanez, though, could provide a sort of half-assed morbid comic relief in a year which badly needed it, whereas you knew Morse’s clock was ticking. Two elements we can’t say about our regulars.

  42. csteavens on June 13th, 2015 3:53 pm

    I was being ironic

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