Game 69, Nice (Astros at Mariners)

marc w · June 20, 2015 at 5:12 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Taijuan Walker vs. Dallas Keuchel, 7:10pm

Viewed from one angle, this is a total mismatch. The M’s already sagging offense has cratered in the month of June, and today they face a guy who’s giving up a slugging percentage allowed of *.251* this year. That’s much, much higher than the career SLG% of Brendan Ryan, Rene Rivera or Eric Sogard. It is worse than Eric Sogard’s worst year, and it’s slightly lower than Mike Zunino’s career on-base percentage. 15 years ago, in the height of the long-ball era, players like A-Rod and (especially) Bonds put up numbers that simply beggared belief – you could mentally account for context and all of that, and it STILL just didn’t compute. You have to dig around for similar numbers now, but they’re out there, and Keuchel’s SLG% is an example.

As you’ve heard from Blengino and Jeff Sullivan, Keuchel’s somehow able to do a number of little things extremely well, and when you put them together, it all adds up to a bizarre kind of ace. Keuchel’s ground ball percentage is the highest in the AL, about 5 percentage points higher than Felix’s. But it’s not just that he induces grounders, it’s the KIND of grounders he gets – they all seem to be hit by profoundly sick batsmen. This season, batters are slugging .132 on grounders off of Keuchel. Felix is having a remarkable season, particularly from a GB point of view, but batters are slugging .234 on GBs off the King. How about Tyson Ross, the only guy in Keuchel’s league in terms of GB% the past two years? This year, batters are slugging .364 on grounders off of him.

But it doesn’t stop there. As Jeff mentioned, his motion and pick-off move make it very difficult for batters to steal on him if they make it to first. TWO runners have stolen a base off of Keuchel thus far, and given that he’s running so high a GB rate, keeping runners on first can make a big difference. Another small but real advantage is his defense. By every fielding metric, Keuchel’s the best in baseball.

All of that said, the resurgent Taijuan Walker evens things up a bit. And the M’s have been a better club against ground ball pitchers than fly-ballers (and guys in the middle). That’s not to say they’ve been GOOD against them, but they’re better. Same with lefties – the M’s have a team wRC+ of 100 against lefties, which, while it isn’t setting the world on fire, is much better than their 87 mark against righties.

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

The big news out of Seattle today is that the M’s made a change at hitting coach. They’ve severed ties with Howard Johnson, and have installed M’s legend Edgar Martinez in the job. This was, at least to me, a stunning announcement because if Edgar had been interested in coaching, you’d think the M’s would have enabled that long ago. Hitting coaches probably don’t matter, but I’m not cynical enough not to squeal a little bit about seeing Edgar again. EDDDDGAAARRRRRR.

Jordan Pries, Mosies Hernandez, Jake Zokan, Dan Altavilla, Tyler Herb and a rehabbing Hisashi Iwakuma start for the M’s affiliates today. It’ll be Pries’ first start for Tacoma since May 5th.


20 Responses to “Game 69, Nice (Astros at Mariners)”

  1. jak924 on June 20th, 2015 5:29 pm

    Edgar could be activated tonight and -at 52- out-hit this clown crew he’s now coaching.

  2. mrakbaseball on June 20th, 2015 6:01 pm

    Edgar’s great but what is he going to do that Molitor, Baylor, Chambliss, HoJo etc. couldn’ t?

  3. Don Money on June 20th, 2015 6:34 pm

    You guys are selling Edgar short, big mistake. He was a technician like few others and I have little doubt he will hone the skills of more than a few of the younger players. Watch for shorter swings and more successful sac flies!

  4. MrZDevotee on June 20th, 2015 6:47 pm

    I’m willing to give Gar a chance… The man was a student of hitting. Morning to midnight, he studied hitting and how to get better. The guy would take batting practice AFTER games to work on things he felt he wasn’t getting right.

    Giving these younger players a routine, or a path to getting better– that they can recognize and pursue– will probably be Edgar’s angle. ‘Cause it worked for him, throughout his career. It’s not like he was a gifted athlete, with tons of natural talent. People forget how long he struggled in the minors, before figuring things out. Zunino is a better athlete than Edgar ever was, so there’s no reason he can’t learn how to have a better plan at the plate, and how to execute that plan.

    Zunino and Ackley should be better hitters in the Major Leagues. Period. They were both “bat first” guys when they were drafted.

    Basically, I’m pulling straws out of my ass, but if it works, hey, I say this is a genius move. Go Edgar!!!

  5. MrZDevotee on June 20th, 2015 7:50 pm

    See! Edgar’s making a difference… When’s the last time we scored 2 runs on walks? And Zunino took a walk, even– after Gar spent an hour with him in the cage today, his advice must have been “Just don’t swing, you’re pretty awful”…

    Reaping the benefits of this incredible hire already.

  6. kaleyk on June 20th, 2015 7:53 pm

    LOL MrZ ….. That must have been a bendy straw you pulled out there …..

  7. MrZDevotee on June 20th, 2015 8:13 pm

    Astros doing their best Mariners impersonation… 13 innings into the series… 21 K’s, and 0 BB’s for their offense.

  8. Grayfox3d on June 20th, 2015 8:18 pm

    wonder if we will score any runs off a RISP hit..

  9. californiamariner on June 20th, 2015 8:29 pm

    As I was sitting here marveling over how bad Cano has been this year, I decided to look up Nick Franklin’s stats since he left Seattle. My goodness, Franklin has been horrible.

  10. MrZDevotee on June 20th, 2015 8:45 pm

    Only the Mariners…

    Extreme ground ball pitcher, whose given up 4 homeruns all year… And we’ve hit 3 homers off him tonight.

    Baseball is funny.

  11. mrakbaseball on June 20th, 2015 8:46 pm

    Franklin needs more calories.

  12. MrZDevotee on June 20th, 2015 8:47 pm

    Holy crap, you’re not kidding…

    Franklin hitting .138, with a .211 OBP…

    Makes Brad Miller look way more attractive as a hitter.

  13. Grayfox3d on June 20th, 2015 9:01 pm

    That’s real nice, Walker spins a gem and the new guy comes in and starts an epic collapse…. please get out of this with out blowing it!

  14. Dennisss on June 20th, 2015 9:09 pm

    Rodney to the rescue. Who’da thunk?

  15. kaleyk on June 20th, 2015 9:12 pm

    Grayfox … YES!!!!

  16. californiamariner on June 20th, 2015 9:41 pm

    Bringing in the “closer” Carson Smith in the 8th? I like it, Lloyd.

  17. Grayfox3d on June 20th, 2015 9:55 pm

    Decent win today Mariners, still need to work on those RISP…. but its been like that for years, so good job, go get ’em tomorrow!

  18. Dennisss on June 20th, 2015 9:55 pm

    I’m learning to enjoy these Rodney-less no-drama saves.

  19. Celadus on June 21st, 2015 1:54 am

    “It’s not like he was a gifted athlete, with tons of natural talent.”

    Well, he did have the reflexes of a cranked-up cobra. He was also a decent fielder. His problem was that he got injured a lot.

    The reason he came up a couple of times and was send down again is that the Mariner organization liked Jim Presley better because he had more power, although as it turns out he didn’t.

  20. bookbook on June 21st, 2015 9:00 am

    Gar should have been in the majors to stay about two years before he was. According to the best metrics available at the time he was a perfectly competent defensive third baseman. (Not Beltre out there but a couple deviations better than the Cabreras and Thomes of the world.)

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