Game 120, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · August 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Chi Chi Gonzalez, 5:05pm

Hisashi Iwakuma takes the mound for the first time since his no-hitter last Wednesday, and he’ll be facing one of the Rangers’ top young arms in right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. Iwakuma’s command allows his so-so fastball velocity to play up; ask Adam Jones how an Iwakuma rising fastball looks when you’ve got to keep an eye out for the splitter. If Gonzalez is to achieve his potential, he’ll need similar command, as he doesn’t have a clear knockout weapon like Kuma does. Instead, Gonzalez mixes two different fastballs with a slider and change (plus a rarely-used curve) to induce weak contact.

Although his four-seam fastball touches 94-96, it averages somewhere around 92. The four-seam is arrow straight with a below-average amount of rise; it’d look like a sinker if it wasn’t for his *actual* sinker, which has more, uh, sink along with a bit more armside run. His slider impressed scouts in the minors – it’s firm, and has two plane break, if not a whole lot of it. He’s got a decent if typical arsenal, but Gonzalez pitches as if he were allergic to whiffs. Even his *slider* elicits whiffs on fewer than 13% of swings against it, and his sinker gets fewer than that. This is why he’s currently sporting a K:BB ratio *under* 1 – he’s given up 24 walks and struck out only 19 of the 207 batters he’s faced. Even in the minors, bat-missing was never a big part of his game.

That didn’t stop him from garnering attention from prospect-hounds, though. In Kiley McDaniel’s top 200 list at Fangraphs, Gonzalez slots in at 27, in the middle of a run of pitchers including Jose Berrios, Robert Stephenson, Luis Severino and Jake Thompson. Everyone around him has fastballs in the mid to upper 90s, and displays potential to be a #1 or #2 starter. Scouts absolutely love Gonzalez’s hard-to-define pitchability and believe he was practically guaranteed to be a #3-4 starter in the big leagues. Not knowing a whole lot about the guy after he was drafted (in the first round in 2013, out of Oral Roberts), I find that kind of fascinating. I think scouts believed he would become an elite ground-ball pitcher – a Tim Hudson type – and that his slider would allow him to miss enough bats that he wouldn’t be pigeon-holed as “just” a ground baller. What we’ve seen – in what’s obviously a very small sample – is a bit different. The slider functions more as a cutter, and doesn’t seem geared to get strikeouts. Moreover, he’s comfortable using his four-seam against righties, including up in the zone, which means his GB rate against them isn’t noteworthy at all.

Despite an identical fastball mix to righties and lefties, he looks like two different pitchers depending on who’s standing in the box against him. Lefties put his sinker in play a ton, and they deal with Gonzalez’s change-up, the pitch with the most sink of any of his offerings. As a result, they’ve got a GB:FB ratio of 3:1. Righties have put his four-seamer into play a bit more, and see quite a few sliders, a pitch they’ve not had any trouble elevating. Thus, his GB:FB ratio is a touch over 1 against RHBs. He can’t strike anyone out, so he’s a very low average, but high SLG% guy against righties and a higher average but low SLG% against lefties. Overall, they’ve got nearly identical wOBAs, but HOW they got them is completely different.

1: Marte, SS
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cruz, DH
4: Cano, 2B
5: Smith, RF
6: Jackson, CF
7: Miller, LF
8: Morrison, 1B
9: Sucre, C
SP: Iwakuma!

Tacoma lost a tough one last night 2-1, on a 2-out walk off single. Forrest Snow threw 5 scoreless innings for Tacoma, and Eric Surkamp threw 7 scoreless in reply. All 3 runs scored from the bottom of the 8th on. Today, Roenis Elias takes the mound against once (and future?) Dodgers prospect Zach Lee. Lee got a huge bonus to buy him out of a football scholarship at LSU and moved quickly, but had a tough year in AAA last year for Albuquerque. This year, he’s been much better, in what’s admittedly a friendlier pitching environment. Lee too doesn’t rack up strikeouts, but his control’s much improved and that’s meant a lot for him thus far. He made a spot start for the Dodgers this year, and while that wasn’t exactly a great showing, he’s still on the map for a team who’s lost quite a few SP innings to injury.

Bakersfield lost to Lake Elsinore 3-1, as Scott DeCecco gave up 3 runs in the 4th. Dan Altavilla starts for the Blaze today.

Everett shut out Spokane 5-0 behind Enyel de los Santos, who struck out 6 in 5 IP and WSU-product Joe Pistorese who K’d 4 in 3 IP. Nick Wells makes his 2nd start today for the AquaSox after his brilliant debut for the M’s org on the 13th.

Jackson hosts Biloxi today, and Clinton kicks off a series against Burlington – Misael Siverio and Tyler Herb will take the hill for their respective clubs.


16 Responses to “Game 120, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. mrakbaseball on August 18th, 2015 7:01 pm

    Not that there was any chance he would be donning a Mariners trident cap, but Dombrowski is the new President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox.

  2. bluemoonking on August 18th, 2015 7:02 pm

    Very bad day for M’s fans… Dave D. took the Boston Job and we still have squat…

  3. WTF_Ms on August 18th, 2015 7:36 pm

    I figured DD would latch on to a team quick, and our ownership is OK with Jack Z for whatever irrational reason. To ownership’s credit though, they insisted we NOT trade Kuma.

    Also, looks like the only reason Brad Miller should stay, is his Ibanez like Left Fielding.

  4. Grayfox3d on August 18th, 2015 7:53 pm

    thank you god!!!

  5. Longgeorge1 on August 18th, 2015 8:11 pm

    This is an all-time low.

  6. djw on August 18th, 2015 8:28 pm

    . To ownership’s credit though, they insisted we NOT trade Kuma.

    What’s the evidence for this?

  7. Grayfox3d on August 18th, 2015 9:33 pm

    Who out there would you guys want as a GM? and who would actually take the job….

  8. Woodcutta on August 18th, 2015 11:16 pm

    Would Ben Cherington be a good replacement for Z? I haven’t really heard anything, good or bad, about him since he took over in Boston.

  9. mrakbaseball on August 19th, 2015 12:43 am

    So you have paid zero attention to the Red Sox the past 5 seasons? They won the World Series in 2013 but there’s been a lot of meh besides that season. Do you hold guys like Bogaerts and Betts in high regard? Do you agree with moving shortstops to the outfield?

  10. bluemoonking on August 19th, 2015 7:58 am

    “our ownership is OK with Jack Z for whatever irrational reason.”

    That’s because the ownership has no clue either… In taking stock of the minors, the 5 teams are 223-317 collectively. A 412 winning percentage. The highlights are AA Jackson at 45-73, High A Clinton at 38-81 and Low A Bakersfield at 49-72. These teams are not even competitive.

    I am tired of hearing “it does not matter”… Jack Z was brought in to build a farm system.

    5+ years later and the M’s are no better off. They have mortgaged the future in Cano and Cruz and while it looks good now, talk to me in 5 years…

  11. Bremerton guy on August 19th, 2015 10:38 am

    I hear Dick Balderson is available.

  12. bluemoonking on August 19th, 2015 10:52 am

    Is he in their price range? Lol

  13. mrakbaseball on August 19th, 2015 12:24 pm

    Hey, Balderson acquired Buhner for Phelps.

  14. Westside guy on August 19th, 2015 1:56 pm

    Now I can’t get Seinfeld out of my mind…

  15. Woodcutta on August 19th, 2015 2:14 pm


    Awesome response. I specifically asked about Cherington not how well the Red Sox have done or not done since he took over.

  16. mrakbaseball on August 19th, 2015 2:36 pm

    Cherington signed Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and I believe Crawford to bad deals. Didn’t get much for Lester. Didn’t get much for Lackey. Had poor drafts in recent years, although as a scout, the Red Sox drafted Youkillis, Pedroia, Ellsbury and David Murphy. I just don’t think there are many Red Sox fans that are upset he’s gone and under his tenure, “Red Sox Nation” shrunk considerably.

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