Game 124, White Sox at Mariners

marc w · August 23, 2015 at 11:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Taijuan Walker vs. John Danks, 1:10pm

The Mariners have been cycling through bullpen arms at quite a clip; Rob Rasmussen has been up and down a few times just within the last week, and now Charlie Furbush and Joe Beimel are on the shelf with shoulder injuries. With Carson Smith tiring, the M’s need fresh arms. But after last night’s bullpen implosion, they decided they’d seen enough of Fernando Rodney and Danny Farquhar. The Fernando Rodney Experience will be some other fanbase’s thrill ride, and Danny Farquhar will return to Tacoma just 8 days after leaving. Bullpens are notoriously volatile, but the M’s in 2015 seem to have suffered every possible problem. In context-neutral stats, the Mariners bullpen has the worst walk rate in baseball, the 7th worst HR rate, the 4th-worst ERA and the 5th worst FIP. But if you add context to the picture, things look even worse somehow. They’ve had the most meltdowns of any group in the AL, meaning that they’ve had *64* relief appearances that have dropped the M’s win probability by at least 6%. By RE24, or the sum of the run-expectancy changes of each plate appearance, the M’s bullpen has been the worst group in MLB – worse than the dumpster fire in Oakland.

The M’s face veteran lefty John Danks today, the White Sox highest-paid player in 2015. Despite suffering from injuries and ineffectiveness since 2011, his five year extension that covered 2012-16 will net Danks $65 million, or DOUBLE what Chris Sale’s 5-year deal will pay him, or $10m more than the *combined* outlay for the 5-year deals for both Sale ($32.5m) and Jose Quintana ($21m). It’s a bad contract, is what I’m getting at. To his credit, this looks somewhat better less awful than it did a year ago, when Danks velocity continued to slide under 89, and when control problems cropped up. He’s not throwing hard now, but his FB velocity’s slightly higher than it was last year, and his walk rate’s under his career average. That’s helped his FIP look better than it has in some time, hence his decent fWAR figure, but unfortunately problems with righties and stranding runners have led to a very familiar RA/9.

When he was a good starter – 2008-2011 – Danks used a good change-up to neutralize right-handed bats, and gave his name to the Danks theory, or line-ups in which the Rays would stack with *lefties* to make it harder for Danks to use his best pitch. From 2008 through 2010, Danks posted reverse splits each year. In more recent years, though, his change-up hasn’t been nearly as effective, and righties have been teeing off. Righties have 5 HRs off his change, and he’s never really found an effective breaking ball against them. Danks’ GB% has been trending down as well, as righties learn to elevate his change. In his heyday, Danks’ change was something of a ground ball pitch. It didn’t show natural sink, but the difference in movement between his FB and change was large enough that batters would swing over the top of the latter. The percentage of balls in play off of change-ups has dropped by over 10 percentage points since then, though, and that’s meant more fly balls in total…and thus more HRs. The M’s could really use enough runs to put the game out of reach, and to ease the pressure that’s mounting on their beleaguered bullpen.

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

The most important appearance for the M’s today won’t take place in Seattle. James Paxton makes his first rehab start for Tacoma today, his first game action since going on the DL with a strained tendon in his finger. If the M’s are going to be good at some point in the near future, Paxton figures to be a contributor.

To replace the roster spots of Rodney and Farquhar, the M’s have brought up Roenis Elias and reliever Logan Kensing. Elias will work out of the pen for now.

The Rainiers host Memphis, who’ll start lefty John Gast. Gast had TJ surgery as a high school senior, and after shooting through the Cardinals system, made his MLB debut in 2013. Unfortunately, he then suffered a serious shoulder injury, and has been inconsistent this year as he attempts a second major comeback. The Rainiers won the finale in Colorado Springs 7-4. Jabari Blash hit his 27th HR of the year, and Chris Taylor had 3 hits. Logan Kensing pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Forrest Snow, and then learned he’d be headed to Seattle after the game.

Jackson lost to Biloxi 2-1, despite getting 6 scoreless innings from starter Edwin Diaz. Tyler Smith singled and walked, making it 17 straight games in which he’s reached base. Stephen Landazuri starts today.

Bakersfield beat San Jose, thanks in part to yet another HR from Canadian slugger Tyler O’Neill. The RF has now homered in four straight games and has an even 30 on the year. Dan Altavilla starts today for the Blaze against Christian Jones, a sinkerballer who was drafted out of the U of Oregon in 2013; it’ll be Jones’ first start of the year after 34 relief appearances in the San Jose pen.

Zack Littell threw 8 scoreless innings for Clinton, but it wasn’t enough as Cedar Rapids scored 2 in the 9th to win 2-0. Kernels starter Sam Gibbons had quite a day, throwing 8 scoreless of his own, and yielding just 1 hit and no walks while striking out *12*. A single by 9th hitter Arby Fields was the only offense of the day for the L-Kings. Tyler Herb shares the mound with Cedar Rapids’ Randy LeBlanc, another sinkerballer who’s spent most of 2015 in the bullpen.

Everett edged the Tri City DustDevils 3-2, picking up the eventual winning run in the 7th on an error by the DustDevils pitcher. Drew Jackson went 4-4 with a walk, pushing his OBP on the year to .460. Joe Pistorese got the win in relief, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless, giving up a single and a walk while striking out 5. The ex-WSU cougar now had 40 Ks to just 6 walks in 37 2/3 IP on the year.


26 Responses to “Game 124, White Sox at Mariners”

  1. jak924 on August 23rd, 2015 11:12 am

    Add Rick Waits to the others gathering in the dustbin.

  2. marc w on August 23rd, 2015 11:25 am

    Yeah, a pitching/hitting coach is always on the hot seat, but you’ve gotta think Waits is playing out the string and then moving on.

  3. Westside guy on August 23rd, 2015 12:16 pm

    Last I heard, Elias was struggling at AAA. Has his pitching improved more recently? Or is this just a case of not having anyone else?

  4. 11records on August 23rd, 2015 12:27 pm

    Jamie Moyer, anyone?

    Is Blash going to get a September look at this point? He’s quietly been on a tear for around 2 months.

  5. Westside guy on August 23rd, 2015 1:04 pm

    I can’t see Edgar ever being on the hot seat… regardless of results. 😉

  6. bluemoonking on August 23rd, 2015 1:09 pm

    Remember that as long as Jack Z and the rest of the front orifice is intact, you can’t take anything for granted…

  7. mrakbaseball on August 23rd, 2015 1:31 pm

    The Mariners have traded away Randy, Junior & Ichiro, Edgar can be on the “hot seat”.

  8. ck on August 23rd, 2015 2:33 pm

    HOWARD Lincoln. Reminds me of HOWARD Schultz. HOWARD might be the most hated person in Seattle team sports’ history.

  9. G-Man on August 23rd, 2015 2:47 pm

    Not good for the new guy – first batter, HR.

  10. G-Man on August 23rd, 2015 2:55 pm

    Even Ryan Divish called the pen a dumpster fire.
    I think Zduriencik doesn’t want to give up on guys he’s brought in because it reflects poorly on him. Divish confirms that most of the baseball people wanted Rodney out of here long ago, including McClendon:
    “Many Mariners fans believed the moment should have come a month or two ago. It was a move pushed for by people in the team’s baseball operations and the field staff, including McClendon. But, as with Chone Figgins in 2011 and 2012, the powers that be were hesitant to make the move until they were left with no other choice.”

  11. marc w on August 23rd, 2015 3:34 pm

    Elias was better recently, but his issues appear to be more mental/motivational. He started the year in Tacoma and was just awful before pitching well in Seattle.

    Blash HAS been on a tear, and I wrote something hopeful about him a while back. Having seen a bit more of him, I think he’s got a real uphill battle to succeed in the bigs, but who knows. He’s got long arms, and his hands have a real long way to travel to get into hitting position. I think inside pitches are always going to give him fits, but yeah, when he hits the ball, it’s LOUD.

  12. thehemogoblin on August 23rd, 2015 6:16 pm

    You, Ryan Divish and Bob Dutton all called the Mariners bullpen a dumpster fire today.

  13. bluemoonking on August 23rd, 2015 6:38 pm

    If the current front office survives all of this, it just proves that the only thing that matters is money. Clinton and Jackson are the worst teams in probably ever. These are the players that should be 2-3 years away. It don’t look good folks.

  14. casey on August 24th, 2015 9:51 am

    I thought it was a pretty fun game to watch on Sunday. All this angst about winning and losing, managers / coaches / front office staff, and player personnel moves seems lost on the 30,000 who seem to be regularly showing up to watch these games. Baseball is a pastime – yes the Mariners are not very good but if you watch the games they regularly provide a lot of fun baseball to watch. This year Cruz, Walker, Cano is just magic at 2b, love young Marte, Seager a rock, Kuma – a lot of stuff to enjoy without worrying about all the negative stuff.

  15. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 10:44 am

    Someone took the blue pill. It’s been that long since the Mariners have had a playoff season? Imagine a Seahawk Sunday EVERY day.

    Negative stuff? Even the sports writers have jumped off the burning band wagon. Think about all the young talent that the Astros, Cubs, Royals and the list goes on. Good players don’t want to play here unless they are given bad contracts like Cruz and Cano. They don’t develop talent and ruin what little talent they do have once they get to the big club.

    Maybe we can give the Mariners all participation awards at the end of the season…

    It is entertainment and if the Mariners are happy with the B-Movie they are putting out there then I need to change my give a s@#t factor to another team.

  16. Westside guy on August 24th, 2015 10:51 am

    I have watched a lot of the games this year, and I have to disagree – by and large they have not been fun. Watching the bullpen completely implode this year has not been fun. Watching Morse and Ibanez give up what seemed like 1000 extra hits due to sheer defensive incompetence a couple years ago was not fun, nor has been seeing Trumbo and Cruz in the corners this year (I love Cruz’s homers, but on a competently put together team he would’ve been a DH not the regular starting right fielder).

    “All the negative stuff” includes losing a LOT of games, and in the end that is on the head of the team leadership. I want to see winning baseball – the fun ballpark experience and family friendliness of Safeco is secondary to that. You’re certainly welcome to not care about winning or losing, but I can’t do that.

    This front office has had seven years to remake the farm system, and really who is on the farm that’s ready to contribute at the major league level? Potentially Marte, and maybe Blash… who else? Building the farm system is supposed to be Jack Z’s one indisputable skill… have you seen the minor league team records this year?

  17. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 11:13 am

    Well said Westside guy. I am as mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore… Lol.

  18. casey on August 24th, 2015 11:15 am

    don’t disagree with a lot of the sentiments and has been a major disappointing season but the gnashing on these blogs is just relentless…when we had a good and highly entertaining game that the Mariners won in nice fashion (especially big Tom with the save)and not a single comment about the game it self much less a positive comment.

    You guys do know that one team wins and one team loses every game and that even the world champion Giants will lose 70 something games this year.

    and somehow the Mariners are averaging something like 29,000 fans a home game – guessing not everyone shows up just for the beer and margaritas – that some actually just enjoy watching MLB baseball games – even if they don’t win every game like the Seahawks.

  19. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 11:30 am

    Jack if you are trying to save your job, this is not the place to do it.

    And the Mariners will lose at least 90, if not more. Those of us that understand baseball and appreciate it like a fine symphony find this PDQ Bach mess an abomination. We were promised the London philharmonic and got three guys and a wash board.

    This is to me about playing good baseball. Not the number of fans that show up. I still don’t know why they do except it is not to see good baseball and most of the fans support the other team anyway.

  20. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 12:18 pm

    Earth to Jack Z… Come in Jack Z. Aardsma was DFA’d by Atlanta. Could not be any worse that what’s in the pen now…

  21. casey on August 24th, 2015 12:21 pm

    I thought the bullpen comments by Marc above on the heals of letting Rodney go and then Wilhelmson getting the chance to save after 2-3 years is interesting.

    I get the impression in baseball that many GMs think the bullpen comes last in terms of assembling a team. Almost an after thought that is hard to screw up and has a minimal overall impact.

    But how many games did last year’s excellent bullpen add to the Mariners win total and how many have this year’s awful bullpen cost them. Maybe Tony B who loves to dig at his former employers will do a research piece on this over at fangraphs, would be an interesting read.

  22. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 1:44 pm

    Kind of funny you would mention Tony B and fangraphs.

    The bullpen was great last year and figured to be close to that this year. If it had, we would not be having this conversation. All 25 spots on a roster are important and make a difference at some point. I don’t know if all GM’s understand that.

    Good consistent pitching is hard to find. I don’t think it is last but more about finding guys for situations and hoping that the situations present themselves.

    I am kind of disappointed in Rodney in the fact that his issues may be fixable. He went back to being the Rodney of a couple of years ago. He just throws very hard and does not pitch. It does not get it done for long.

  23. eponymous coward on August 24th, 2015 3:22 pm

    Earth to Jack Z… Come in Jack Z. Aardsma was DFA’d by Atlanta. Could not be any worse that what’s in the pen now…

    Why do we need to recycle through other organizations’ trash heaps? We’ve seen that guy before, he is what he is, hard throwing righty with occasional control problems, regularly flunks out of closer jobs. Which is basically what Rodney was.

  24. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 4:23 pm

    Because the current relievers are getting lit up on a consistent basis, Each seemingly taking their own turn…

    He isn’t pitching poorly, 6 home runs in 30 innings, I think that’s what I heard. He had arm issues last couple of years and did not pitch himself out of a job. It’s a Jack Z move, low risk and high reward. Rodney is a thrower and bit of a nut. Surprised it ended, the M’s don’t like to DFA a contract with a lot of money left.

  25. mrakbaseball on August 24th, 2015 4:51 pm

    Why would you want Aardsma at this stage? the season’s almost over. As long as the people get their hydro races, bobbleheads, fauxback cream unis and fireworks nights, all is right with the world I guess.

  26. bluemoonking on August 24th, 2015 7:01 pm

    With Rodney gone, do you bring up someone from AAA to be cannon fodder? Or sign someone for the next 37 games? It might be a good marketing move. After all, thats what the Mariners are really all about…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.