Game 75, Mariners at Angels
JA Happ vs. Garrett Richards, 4:15pm – Note the odd start time-
There’s nothing like shutting down the Angels. I mean, there’s shutting down one’s playoff opponent, but my memories of that are growing hazy; in the absence of concrete, recent, identifiable feelings, I just assume it feels like shutting down the Angels.
Today, lefty JA Happ takes on Angels ace Garrett Richards. Richards took a long, long time to get acclimated to the big leagues, but he finally broke out last season, tossing nearly 170 IP (before a leg injury ended his season) with a FIP of 2.60. The key to Richards effectiveness isn’t his 96mph velocity, though that clearly plays a part, but rather his ability to avoid home runs. Richards 4-seam fastball, slider and curve all sink much more than other pitches of their type – his curve gets an absolutely insane -12″ of “rise”, while his slider drops like many curve balls. Combined with the fact that he targets these breaking balls at or below the bottom of the zone, and it’s nearly impossible to elevate them against him. In his career, batters are *slugging* .241 on his slider (which he’s thrown over 2,200 times) and .141 on his curve. His four-seam fastball is an odd duck as well, with a bit of gloveside movement and sink, it looks like an insanely fast cutter. His slider looks positively normal in comparison; maybe that’s why batters have had by far the most success against it.*
Richards turned a corner when he stopped trying to be a typical hard-throwing righty, throwing fastballs up and away to lefties and down and away to righties, and started using his oddball movement to his advantage. He’s now using his slider much more to lefties, as its sharp downward break makes it work more like a curve or, if you squint a bit, like a bizarre kind of splitter. In his tentative first few forays in the big leagues, lefties ate him alive. Since 2014, he’s posted reverse splits. Given the movement on his pitches and their sheer power, it’s still a bit of a mystery that a guy like Matt Shoemaker would miss more bats. Clearly, Richards doesn’t need elite K totals to be successful, but he’s only had above-average K rates once – in his breakout 2014 season. This year, his K rate’s tumbled and his walk and home run rates have climbed back up. Some of this may just be regression, while some may be the aftereffects of injury, which caused him to miss spring training and the beginning of the 2015 campaign. Still, Richards is a very tough starter, particularly at home, where his home park aids his homer-suppressing stuff.
1: Morrison, 1B
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Trumbo, RF
7: Miller, SS
8: Ackley, CF
9: Zunino, C
Tacoma lost to El Paso 4-2, losing a 2-1 lead in the 8th. The R’s wasted a good start from Jordan Pries who went 5 1/3 IP, giving up 1 R and striking out 4. James Jones hit a 2R triple in the 7th to give the R’s the lead, but Lucas Luetge gave up the tying run in the 8th, and then Danny Farquhar gave up 2 runs in the 9th to lose it. Stephen Landazuri starts tonight at Cheney Stadium.
Jackson lost 3-1 in a game where every run came via a solo HR. SS Tyler Smith hit one for Jackson, but Moises Hernandez gave up 3, and that was that. Misael Siverio faces Sox prospect Tyler Danish tonight.
Lancaster dominated Bakerfield, taking an 8-1 decision at Sam Lynn field. Astros’ 2nd round pick in 2014 AJ Reed hit his 19th HR, and now sports a .444 on-base percentage. The highest Blaze OBP for anyone with at least 100 at-bats belongs to CF Ian Miller at .341. Dan Altavilla starts tonight opposite Bryan Radziewski.
Clinton destroyed Wisconsin 13-2, aided by a 9 run 6th off of reliever Josh Uhen. CF Arby Fields had 3 hits including his 2nd HR of the year, and Chris Mariscal went 4-4 with 6 RBIs, finishing a HR short of the cycle. Patrick Peterson starts tonight for the L-Kings opposite Brewers #8 prospect Devin Williams.
Everett suffered a rare loss, dropping an 11-10 contest to Boise. OF Luis Liberato paced the AquaSox with 3 hits, and recent signee, 9th rounder Conner Hale, made his debut. Anthony Misiewicz, a 2015 draftee out of Michigan State, makes his second start for Everett tonight.
The M’s organization will send two players to this year’s Futures Game during All-Star weekend – RHP Edwin Diaz and SS Ketel Marte will both suit up for the “World” team.
* With the exception of a change that he’s all but given up now. He only threw the change 134 times, but the results were comically bad.