Game 87, Angels at Mariners
Mike Montgomery vs. Hector Santiago,7:10pm
Ah, everything feels a bit better after a great King Felix start. The air smells cleaner, the trees look greener somehow, and hey, this soul-and-snowpack destroying heatwave abated in fealty to the King.
The M’s face lefty Hector Santiago, who seems somewhat like a poor man’s CJ Wilson in that he’s a lefty who throws a lot of different breaking balls, and tries to pitch around some serious platoon splits. The M’s faced Santiago in Anaheim on their recent road trip, and you can review what I said about him back then: essentially, Santiago has been remarkably successful from a runs-allowed point of view because he limits BABIP and strands tons of runners. None of that *feels* terribly sustainable, but it’s been happening for a while. Sure, as a lefty without a big fastball, he’s got the feel of a junkballer – but it’s actually his four-seam fastball that makes him who he is. Back in June, I mentioned that his fastball BABIP was better than just about everyone’s – Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Felix, Kershaw – and since then, he’s shut down the M’s over 7 IP and then shut OUT the Rangers for another 7 IP. If he’s a poor man’s CJ Wilson, it’s because he literally has less money than Wilson, not because he’s worse.
Or maybe…you know who else has produced an extremely low BABIP, stranded tons of runners and has been all kinds of successful despite huge K numbers? Mike Montgomery. The difference, if there is one, is that Montgomery doesn’t get by with a magical fastball – a ball that people can’t hit hard despite meh velocity. Montgomery’s successful because of a plus change-up, and thus to the extent he’s got platoon issues, it’s LEFTIES that are going to make him work. Santiago isn’t the kind of comparison that gets people excited, but it’s not awful – and Santiago’s been doing this long enough that it’s not a slam at all. Overall, Montgomery is probably more similar to John Danks, but it’s harder to remember Danks as a great #3 and not as a disastrous contract extension these days.
1: Taylor, SS
2: Gutierrez, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Trumbo, RF
7: Montero, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Ackley, CF
As you can see above, and if you tuned in last night, the M’s prodigal son turned prodigious eater turned intriguing bench bat is back. Jesus Montero, less than a year removed from ice-cream-sandwich-gate, is now platooning at 1B with LoMo. I have to say that Montero’s 2015 is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. I was sure – 100% positive – that Montero would never play for Seattle again, and I don’t think I was alone in that. I thought Montero had completely missed his chance, and that the bat wouldn’t be enough at 1B. I never thought there’d be so little Montero to discuss. Even after his transformation and the attention he was getting for his “hot start” he was still hitting for too little power and striking out too much. It was a pretty empty .300 average in the PCL. In the last month, though, the man’s been on a tear as Mike Curto described in the blog post I linked yesterday. He’s gone from Yankee hype-job to being vilified for not working hard, to be being vilified for taking PEDs, to *fighting a team employee in the stands of a professional baseball game* after being vilified for not hustling by said employee, to starting at 1B for the Seattle Mariners. I don’t care that so many of the challenges he’s overcome have been, at least in part, self-imposed. He’s overcome them, and that’s worth celebrating. As his ex-teammate John Baker said on Twitter last night, “If you don’t root for Jesus Montero, you’re a terrible person.”
The Reno Aces got back at the Montero-less Rainiers last night, winning 9-5. Stephen Landazuri was handed a 4-0 lead in the first, but couldn’t hold it. Andrew Kittredge takes on D-Backs prospect (is he still a prospect at this point?) Allen Webster.
Jackson lost to Birmingham 5-3. Ketel Marte, rehabbing that broken hand, DH’d for the Generals and went 0-3. Scott DeCecco takes the hill for the Generals today.
San Jose shut out the punchless Bakersfield Blaze 3-0 behind Martin Agosta. Brett Ash starts for Bakersfield opposite Jason Forjet, a fly-balling righty with good control.
Quad Cities beat Clinton 6-2. Chantz Mack and Taylor Zeutenhorst both went 2-3 with a double, but only Zeutenhorst had to come in and pitch the final inning. The OF/UTIL coughed up a 3 run homer. Jefferson Medina shares the mound with Dewin Perez, a Colombian lefty who’s walked 18 in 11+ midwest league innings. Patience, L-Kings.
Everett dominated Boise 7-3, aided by Corey Simpson’s 5th HR. The up-and-down RP Spencer Herrmann had a good game, with 4 Ks in 2 shutout innings. Jose Santiago starts tonight’s contest.