Game 131, Mariners at White Sox
Edgar Olmos vs. Jose Quintana, 11:10am
A day after catcher John Hicks made his MLB debut playing 3B, a position he’d never played as a pro, Edgar Olmos makes his first major league start. Obviously, this is a much more familiar role for Olmos than the hot corner was for Hicks, but it’s still something of an adjustment. Before this year, Olmos’ last start came in 2012. He made two spot starts for Tacoma this year when roster shuffles left them a starter short, including his longest outing of the year, a 5IP game against Sacramento right before he was called up.
Among the myriad things I couldn’t have imagined before the year began, the M’s letting a LOOGY get a spot start is perhaps one of the least painful. But it’s still pretty remarkable when you step back: Olmos was acquired from Florida when the Marlins waived him. He needed a 40 man spot, but the M’s had plenty of them, so it seemed like a worthwhile gamble, particularly given Olmos’ 94-95mph velocity. Upon arriving in M’s camp though, Olmos wasn’t close to 94-95, and he had to be shut down with a shoulder impingement. When the M’s needed a 40-man spot, they waived Olmos and the Rangers picked him up in late February. After throwing for a few days with Texas, the Rangers asked MLB to reverse the waiver claim, essentially claiming that Seattle had sent them defective goods. MLB agreed, and Olmos returned.* That he didn’t really have a role went without saying: he was, apparently, too hurt to waive.
Olmos stayed in extending spring training rehabbing his shoulder, and only joined Tacoma at the very end of May. In his first outing, he gave up 5 hits and 4 runs in 1/3 of an inning. After that outing, he took some family leave when his wife gave birth. So it’s June, and Olmos had been hurt, ineffective and waived. On the plus side, he had a new baby. Whether it was fatherhood or just some rest, Olmos has been effective since his return. He had some platoon splits, but he was an effective reliever who seemed to keep the ball in the park – he hasn’t given up a HR in 2015. That’s kind of interesting, given that HR problems were a big part of the reason Florida waived him.
Whether it was because of his injury or just something the M’s worked on with him, Olmos’ fastball doesn’t look much like the one he threw for the Marlins. A few years ago, he threw 96 routinely, and the ball had a lot of horizontal run and essentially average vertical rise. Now, Olmos throws 93 with a bit less armside run, and extremely low vertical movement. At over 2 standard deviations below average, Olmos’ four-seamer acts like a sinker. His sinker, which he’s thrown to righties thus far, has even less rise and Mike Montgomery-levels of horizontal movement. While he always had decent ground ball rates, they’re higher now and he’s getting some infield pop-ups. More importantly, whatever change he’s made seems to have improved his…uh, change. Olmos was a fastball/slider guy with Florida, but in the M’s org he throws two fastballs, a curve and a change-up. The latter pitch has radically different movement now than it did before (of course, the “before” sample is a handful of pitches) – it now has sink and it’s something he can throw righties.
Olmos’ story’s a good one, and he’s solid depth for the M’s, but it’s not like all the changes have made him a great pitcher. He’s just not missing enough bats, and his GB% isn’t elite enough to make up for that. It’s a bit early to tell if he’s been HR-lucky, or if he’s put his real HR issues behind him, and the same goes for his platoon splits. He’s making this start because Mike Montgomery couldn’t stop his slide, and was banished to Tacoma today (Mayckol Guaipe is up). Still, this is quite a reward for someone I never thought we’d hear from again this spring.
Jose Quintana’s the unassuming lefty who’s been remarkably effective and consistent for the White Sox. Quintana throws a rising FB at 91-92, a good cutter at 90 and an occasional change, but his best pitch is his curve, a slurvy offering at 81. The combination of a straight, high fastball and a curve has helped Quintana avoid platoon split issues – his career xFIP is essentially identical to RHBs/LHBs. This year, his splits are a bit more prominent thanks to some minor HR issues to righties. He’s given up more HRs on his fastball, which is probably just bad luck, but it’s got to be a bit concerning for Chicago. Perhaps as a result, Quintana’s throwing more of his sinker than he ever has, but that hasn’t really helped against righties. In any event, Quintana’s still only given up 12 long balls on the year. Last year’s incredible HR/FB luck wasn’t going to last forever, but he’s still given up remarkably few HRs given his home park and neutral GB rates.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cruz, DH
4: Cano, 2B
5: Gutierrez, LF
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Trumbo, RF
8: Miller, SS
9: Hicks, C
Congratulations to Hicks on surviving 3B last night and making his first big league start.
Tacoma’s game with Nashville was postponed yesterday. That probably won’t shock anyone in Western Washington given yesterday’s storms. They’ll play 2 today, with Adrian Sampson starting game 1. It’s a split-admission game, so ticket-holders from yesterday’s game can use their tickets for game 2, which starts at 5:35, and those who had seats for today’s game – the last home game of the year – can use those for game 1, which starts at 1:35.
Jackson shut out Pensacola 4-0 behind 6 one-hit innings from Misael Siverio. Paul Fry K’d 2 in the 9th, and Jabari Henry homered for the Generals as well. Fry now has 106 Ks against just 19 walks in 76 1/3 IP. The lefty out of a Michigan CC has 53 Ks and 5 walks against left-handed bats. Dylan Unsworth starts today against Tim Adleman, a 24th round pick out of Georgetown who was cut by Baltimore and spent two years in independent ball before resurfacing with the Reds this year. He’s been shockingly effective this year, and though he’s 27, he may get a shot at AAA next year.
After a 2-1 game the day before, Bakersfield and High Desert played a good old fashioned Adelanto special last night, with Bakersfield outslugging the Mavericks 19-10. The hitting star was RF Austin Wilson, who’s had a terrible season but is showing some signs of life. Wilson went 6-7, with 3 doubles and a HR; he was 6 for his first 6 and had a shot at a 7th hit before grounding out in the 9th. Ryan Yarbrough starts today.
Burlington shut out Clinton 4-0, who are now 16-45 in the 2nd half and 46 games under .500. Eddie Campbell shares the mound with Wisconsin’s Kodi Medeiros, a 2014 1st rounder and one of the Brewers top prospects.
Tri-City beat Everett 9-3 despite Alex Jackson’s first 2-HR game. Luiz Gohara was shaky again, and reliever Jefferson Arias wasn’t much better. Jake Brentz starts for the AquaSox today.
* His return meant that the M’s had to make another roster move, but the day they needed to DFA someone, Ji-Man Choi broke his leg in a Cactus League game and got the news he was being outrighted while in the hospital.