Game 119, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · August 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Taijuan Walker vs. Cole Hamels, 5:05pm

After giving up 45 runs in a 3 game series, the M’s turn to Taijuan Walker to stop the bleeding. *Despite a no-hitter last week* the M’s staff has produced at replacement-level as a whole since the all-star break. Ill-timed swoons from Mike Montgomery and, as much as it pains me to say, King Felix have meant that the team hasn’t been able to benefit a whole lot from Hisashi Iwakuma’s resurgence and a good stretch of solid-if-unspectacular work from Taijuan Walker. Worse, the team’s allowed far more actual runs than their FIP would predict. They’re allowing a few more runners, and then many more runners are managing to come around to score. It’s not a BABIP issue, though – it’s home runs.

The M’s are allowing HRs at a frightening clip these days, with 43 allowed in the 29 games since the break. Only one team, the Red Sox, have allowed more. Sure, some of the blame lies with pitchers no longer employed by the M’s, like JA Happ. But Felix, Montgomery and, yes, Tai Walker have all contributed. Walker’s improved throughout the season, and his newfound confidence in his curve has allowed him to maintain a low walk rate while still missing plenty of bats. Returning to his curve made a lot of sense, given that his cutter/slider has been terrible; he’s had essentially no breaking pitch to throw to righties. Against lefties, he had a splitter, and that’s helped him neutralize them to a reasonable degree. But pretty much all of Walker’s attributes: the high arm angle, splitter and slow curve, are correlated with flat or reverse platoon splits, as this great bit of research shows. In any event, Walker *still* throws his curve more often to lefties than righties, meaning he’s a FB/Split pitcher (for the most part) to right-handed bats. And it’s righties that Walker’s struggled with. Of Walker’s 21 HRs allowed this year, 12 have been hit by righties, and that’s despite the fact that only 44% of the batters he’s faced have been right-handed. His FIP to righties is 1.5 runs above his FIP to lefties, and while a chunk of that is luck, some of it isn’t – over his career, his FIP-splits are similarly (though not quite as) bad. I’ve mentioned it before, but job 1 this off-season for Taijuan has to be developing a true slider.

His opponent, Cole Hamels, has had similar HR issues recently. Thanks to a slight groin problem, this’ll only be Hamels’ 3rd start for Texas. In his 2 previous starts, including against the M’s back on the 7th – the LAST time I was returning from a camping trip – Hamels has allowed 5 HRs. Walker’s giving up too many, but 5 in 5 starts (including 1 in Colorado) is quite different from 5 in 2 starts. Deadline acquisitions often have sky-high expectations thrust upon them, as each start gets magnified when viewed through the lens of a playoff run. Carlos Gomez’s struggles in Houston seem significant, just as Hamels’ struggles would seem to make him a target of fans, but the Rangers have won 4 in a row. If the Rangers keep it up, Hamels could struggle and still be seen as an important signal to the team and the league. Old-time M’s fans might remember this with Andy Benes’ acquisition in 1995 – the M’s are going for it, they’re serious contenders, etc. papered over the fact that Benes was pretty awful down the stretch. Hamels is a much better pitcher, but he’s had HR issues – the kind of problem that isn’t normally helped by moving to Arlington.

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

Walker’s been tough in his last 3 starts, which is remarkable given how distracted he must’ve been: Taijuan’s younger brother Deshaun underwent brain surgery on the 11th. Apparently it went well, but my thoughts are with the whole Walker family. Scary stuff.

Tacoma lost to Oklahoma City 9-1 yesterday, so instead I’ll mention that Chien-Ming Wang threw his best start in years on Saturday, blanking the OKC Dodgers 2-0 in a complete game shutout. Because this is Wang, he struck out just 2 and walked 4, but because this is Wang, he had 19 ground-ball outs to just 2 fly balls. Today, Jordan Pries shares the mound with Eric Surkamp, a lefty with some big league time with the Dodgers and White Sox.

Jackson dropped the deciding game of their 5-game set with Jacksonville yesterday, 9-2. Tyler Marlette doubled, helping him maintain a hot start to the 2nd half after a dismal early 2015 split between Bakersfield and Jackson. It’s a travel day in the Southern League; Biloxi heads to Jackson to take on the Generals tomorrow.

Bakersfield beat Modesto 6-5, getting a run in the top of the 9th to decide the game. Still, the story of the weekend came from Saturday’s 1-0 *loss*. In that contest, Ryan Yarbrough had perhaps his best outing of the year – and while that’s damning with faint praise, Yarbrough went 4 IP, giving up the only run, but striking out 6 without walking anyone. Progress. Scott DeCecco starts for the Blaze today as they host last-place Lake Elsinore.

Clinton dropped a pair of games over the weekend, including yesterday’s 3-2 loss in 10 innings. That’s left them at 37-81. They get a break today before heading to Burlington to face the Bees tomorrow.

Everett was no-hit yesterday by Kyle Twomey and the Eugene Emeralds bullpen. Apparently getting no-hit is the only way to stop SS Drew Jackson, who saw his 21-game hitting streak snapped in the 3-0 loss. Today, Enyel de los Santos starts for Everett as they face Tyler Davis and the Spokane Indians.


18 Responses to “Game 119, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. WTF_Ms on August 17th, 2015 6:08 pm

    Oh how I wish we had a catcher that could hit in the mid 200’s.

  2. Longgeorge1 on August 17th, 2015 6:50 pm

    Last year I was wishing for a DH who could hit .250

  3. Longgeorge1 on August 17th, 2015 6:52 pm

    I wish we had a CF with an arm.

  4. Longgeorge1 on August 17th, 2015 7:06 pm

    I wish we had an arm like Choo

  5. WTF_Ms on August 17th, 2015 7:07 pm

    why’d we run on that one again?

  6. walla walla on August 17th, 2015 7:14 pm

    Andy Benes overall ERA for the M’s looks bad (5.86) but it was skewed by two terrible starts where he got knocked out in the second inning both times.

    Take out those two starts and his ERA would have been 4.65 and he averaged exactly 6 innings in the other starts.

    The Mariners won all 10 of Benes’ regular season starts outside of the two times he was knocked out early. He had a 4.65 ERA and averaged 6 innings a start in those 10, a major improvement over guys like Dave Fleming, Saloman Torres, Tim Davis, Bob Wells, Bill Kreuger, Rafael Carmona and Jim Converse, who combined for 34 starts for the M’s that season.

    The Mariners don’t make the playoffs that year without Benes’ contributions and the team would most likely be playing in a different city now.

  7. Bremerton guy on August 17th, 2015 7:50 pm

    So what a joke. Put Rodney in to pitch the bottom of the 9th inning to try to get to extra innings. The definition of insanity, personified.

  8. WTF_Ms on August 17th, 2015 7:56 pm

    Holy cow. What a soup sammich.

  9. msfanmike on August 17th, 2015 7:59 pm

    What a shocking development. Nobody could have ever predicted this type of an outcome. The only real surprise is that Rodney recorded an out before giving up a run.

  10. WTF_Ms on August 17th, 2015 8:00 pm

    Rodney the loser. Quote of the night. Sums up the entire season.

  11. Bremerton guy on August 17th, 2015 8:00 pm

    Honestly. Will the Mariners please just DFA Rodney now and get it over with? At this point, there’s no point in him even being on the roster.

  12. Grayfox3d on August 17th, 2015 8:01 pm

    Between Rodney and Smith having the yips and blowing every chance they have had, I don’t feel like either of them should be here next season.

  13. Longgeorge1 on August 17th, 2015 8:02 pm

    Rodney is what Whitey Herzog used to call a “cocktail” pitcher. Bring him in lose quick, let’s go get a drink.

  14. eponymous coward on August 17th, 2015 8:22 pm

    Not like there are many non-suck options in the pen right now…

  15. dc24 on August 17th, 2015 8:46 pm

    Rodney deserves a lot of blame, but, as much as I love the guy, got to point the finger at Kyle Seager too. Absolute boneheaded play by being nonchalant on DeShields’ bunt. Got to know who’s running on that play.

  16. Grayfox3d on August 17th, 2015 8:54 pm

    Seager got a BIG raise too…. and he is definently not following through on his end. His numbers are low and it feels like he’s making more errors than usual.

  17. JMB on August 17th, 2015 9:48 pm

    Seager hesitated, yeah. But am I the only one who thinks Rodney was in the way of the throw a little bit? He was just standing there.

    And this after he failed to cover first in Boston (and got bailed out by Morrison).

  18. eponymous coward on August 18th, 2015 7:17 am

    Seager’s numbers are right on his career numbers. This year is not particularly his fault, and it would be dumb to make it so. Hint: the OF and 1B are still dumpster fires, and a much more expensive player was having a bad first three months of the year.

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