Game 135, Mariners at Athletics
Edgar Olmos vs. Aaron Brooks, 7:05pm
The two huge disappointments of the AL West collide attempt to make small talk and avoid eye contact as the M’s head to Oakland. If you told someone in March that Olmos and Brooks would meet as starters in a September game, they’d have 1) thought you were crazy and 2) that the M’s and A’s seasons were worse than pretty much any “worst case scenario” imagined by the projection systems. Both may be true, but #2 is *definitely* true.
Brooks began the year in the Kansas City system. He’d made his MLB debut in 2014, but it was a harrowing ordeal: Brooks gave up 13 runs in less than 3 IP. His first start lasted 2/3 of an inning, and he gave up 7 runs despite facing only 11 batters. He got further opportunities to pitch in KC this spring thanks to the wave of injuries that hit the Royals, but seemed destined for the bullpen, particularly after his last appearance – in long relief against Boston – went poorly. Instead, he was added to the package headed to Oakland in exchange for Ben Zobrist, and after making a couple a starts for Nashville, he was back in a big league rotation on August 1st.
Since then, the righty’s made 4 starts, 3 of which were quality starts. He’s always shown very good control; he’s never had a minor league season with a BB/9 over 2. Without a ton of velocity or top-shelf stuff, he’s unlikely ever to miss enough bats to give himself a big margin of error. The control helps, but they can’t cover for a lack of outs, and it’s a general inability to miss bat barrels that led most observers to assume he’d become a non-closing reliever. Even in the minors, he gave up too may hits and too many HRs; with a rising four-seam fastball, his GB% was always low, and that further eroded his cushion.
Still, the A’s have turned worse raw material into annoyingly effective players. Since arriving in Oakland, Brooks is throwing more of his sinker -a pitch he didn’t throw much at all with the Royals. His best pitch looks to be his change-up, an 83mph offering with very good sink. He’s traditionally used a slider against right-handers, but he’s also got a curve. Thus far, Brooks has fared much better against lefties than righties, thanks primarily to his change: lefties have come up empty on about 1/2 of their swings on the change (it should go without saying, but the sample sizes here are miniscule). Over time, it’ll be interesting to see if Brooks is able to make the necessary adjustments to his sinker and slider to help him be more effective against righties, or if lefties will begin to adjust to his change. For guys like this, it’s a critical one: if the former, he’ll be a decent #5 starter in the bigs. If the latter, he’ll really get to know the cities of the PCL.
Edgar Olmos is still rather odd, as he looks to have good or at the very least *intriguing* stuff, but he couldn’t miss a bit if it was left on a chair in the batters box. His four-seam and sinker have all sorts of sink and run, and his curve must have impressive spin – and they’re put in play routinely. His change-up is ok too, and it’s what’s allowing him to get these spot-starts, but it’s not helping get strikeouts. His arsenal is notable in that it induces grounders, and that keeps the ball in the park. Olmos still hasn’t given up a HR this year, and if I knew that he had some of the old Chris Young magic in him, I’d be less concerned about the lack of whiffs.
1: Marte, SS
2: Seager, 3B
3: Gutierrez, LF
4: Cano, 2B
5: Smith, RF
6: Trumbo, DH
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Miller, CF
9: Hicks, C
Kiley McDaniel runs through some of the candidates for the M’s GM position (and others) here – it’s worth your time. McDaniel mentions Jerry Dipoto, who apparently lost out to Zduriencik back in 2008, but we now know he’ll be interviewed. The “almost GM” group that McDaniel discusses seems the most intriguing to me and many others (and I think Kim Ng could fit in that group), but Kevin Mather’s public statements would seem to rule them out. I can see a David Forst or John Coppolella arguing that they’ve been doing many GM-level functions already, so that the worry about on-the-job learning is misplaced, but we’ll see. A lot of this depends on what Mather and M’s ownership see as Zduriencik’s biggest flaws – was it evaluation/player development, or did they see his inexperience at the GM level as a key factor that fed in to the various subsidiary disappointments?
A day after losing James Paxton to a finger injury, the M’s lost to Salt Lake 4-2. Jabari Blash was out for the 2nd straight game with a sore knee, but it sounds like he can play in the year’s final series in Las Vegas. Tonight, the Rainiers’ Adrian Sampson takes on Dillon Gee, who was having a so-so year in the Mets’ rotation before being supplanted by Noah Syndergaard and, for a time, Steven Matz.
Jackson beat Chattanooga 5-2 thanks to a strong start from Stephen Landazuri and another dominant outing by reliever Paul Fry. Fry got a 4-out save with all 4 coming via the strikeout, giving him 70 Ks in 55 AA innings. Today, Misael Siverio takes on David Hurlbut of the Lookouts, a sinkerballing veteran who’s been quite effective in the low minors and reasonably solid in AA despite being a 28th-round pick. The Twins may not get enough credit for the job their player development group does; the Lookouts best player is German OF Max Kepler, who’s having his best season as a pro, Jose Berrios earned a promotion to AAA, and obviously Miguel Sano’s done pretty well.
Bakersfield beat Lancaster 6-2 behind HRs from OFs Tyler O’Neill and Austin Wilson. Dan Altavilla pitched pretty well for 5 innings, and the bullpen locked it down behind him. Closer Emilio Pagan has handled the Cal League quite well – he’s maintained or improved most of his peripheral stats over last year despite moving from the pitcher-friendly Midwest League to the pitcher-soul-destroying California League. Tyler Pike starts today against Martin Agosta of San Jose, a player the Blaze are pretty familiar with by now – this will be his 7th appearance against them. He’s made 3 starts recently against the Blaze, and had 3 relief appearances earlier in the season.
Clinton’s latest humiliation was an 11-3 drubbing at the hands of Beloit. Eddie Campbell, who’s actually been quite good recently, starts for the L-Kings today.
Spokane beat Everett 4-1, handing Luiz Gohara his 3rd consecutive loss. It’s hard to remember that he started the year with 3 solid starts- he didn’t surrender an earned run in any of them. After that, it’s been ugly. Yesterday, he walked 6 and gave up 3 runs in 3 2/3 IP. Today, Everett heads to Vancouver to take on the Canadians.