Game 138, Rangers at Mariners
Roenis Elias vs. Yovani Gallardo, 3:40pm
Happy Labor Day
The Rangers come to town with a game and a half lead on the Minnesota Twins for the 2nd wildcard spot. The Rangers were projected as the AL West doormats by a wide, wide margin and Fangraphs gave them a 2.5% chance of taking a wildcard spot. Minnesota played in a weaker division, according to the projections, but were so terrible that they had only a 2.1% shot of winning a wildcard. 2015, ladies and gentlemen. The Mariners and Red Sox each had odds of winning their respective divisions of over….ah nevermind. This has been a painful year in many respects, but I’ll take some amount of solace from the insane years both Texas and Minnesota have had. You can vary from your projections up as well as down, right? Right Mariners?
Yovani Gallardo has quietly become one of the better and more important off-season trades. Not as big of an impact as the Josh Donaldson deal, perhaps, but the Rangers picked up a quality starter cheap, and then – crucially – held on to him at the deadline just as Anaheim started their slide out of the wildcard competition. The Rangers are 71-64 despite hitting like the Mariners with RISP and despite the fact that Colby Lewis has pitched the most innings on the team by far. Without Gallardo, the Rangers would have had to rely on the plainly not-ready Anthony Ranaudo or they would’ve been forced to keep giving Ross Detwiler starts. Instead, they’ve got a steady 2.2 fWAR or 3.8 RA-9-WAR out of Gallardo for some lower-tier prospects.
Gallardo has a Sean Nolin-esque straight/rising fastball with about 10-11″ of vertical movement and essentially no horizontal run. In recent years, he’s throwing quite a few sinkers – a pitch that doesn’t move like a traditional sinker, but at least has a bit less rise than his four-seamer. His primary breaking pitch is a slider, and he’ll throw it to righties and lefties alike. Coming up, Gallardo threw a curve ball, and while he’s still got it in his arsenal, it’s now in a secondary role. The shape of his fastball and his over-the-top delivery help him reduce platoon splits – in his career, he’s got a 3.76 FIP vs. lefties and a 3.72 mark against righties.
In the past, his rising FB led to very low GB% and a consequent glut of HRs. In recent years, he’s pushed his GB% to around 50%, which is remarkable given his fastballs. The sinker’s clearly helped, but his slider’s done a lot of good, too. While it doesn’t have sharp downward break like some, it’s thrown very hard and its shape is different enough from Gallardo’s fastball that it seems harder for hitters to elevate. It’s essentially a cutter – at only about 3-4mph slower than his fastball. For whatever reason, less than 10% of balls in play off the slider have been fly balls this year.
1: Marte, SS
2: Seager, 3B
3: Trumbo, DH
4: Cano, 2B
5: Smith, LF
6: Morrison, 1B
7: MIller, CF
8: Hicks, C
9: O’Malley, RF
Shawn O’Malley is the starting RF. Shawn O’Malley is the M’s hottest hitter. What a time to be alive.
Edgar Olmos has been optioned to Tacoma.
It’s the last day of the Minor League regular season – it’s been a dismal year for the M’s system in general, though there have obviously been bright spots. The M’s seem to need an overhaul of their player development system, which is the kind of the thing a new GM will be eager to start on. I hope this is the central focus of each GM interview the M’s hold.
Tacoma played spoilers, knocking Las Vegas out of the playoffs and sending El Paso instead with their 6-3 win in Vegas. Chien Ming Wang pitched well, and Tacoma put up 5 runs in the 6th. Tyler Olson starts today against MLB vet Tim Stauffer.
Jackson got back to back HRs from Marcus Littlewood and Jabari Henry, but it wasn’t enough as Chattanooga came back for an 11-10 win in 10 innings. Today’s game features Edwin Diaz, now clearly one of the M’s top 3 prospects.
Bakersfield beat San Jose 8-6 behind 6 extra base hits. Tyler O’Neill tripled, but the star of the game was Justin Seager who doubled and homered. Scott DeCecco starts today’s game.
Clinton lost to Cedar Rapids 3-1 despite 5 shut-out innings from starter Zack Littell. Tyler Herb starts today’s season-ender. If there’s any good news, with their win on Saturday, the Lumberkings cannot reach 50 games under .500.
Everett limped into the playoffs, losing last night’s game 11-0. Drew Jackson and Braden Bishop finished 1-2 in batting average in the NWL, with Jackson winning MVP. They’ll face Tri City tonight, but they’ll have to do it without reliever Joe Pistorese, who was suspended 50 games when a banned substance turned up in his urine sample. Pistorese argued it was a prescribed medication, but MiLB denied his appeal, as Jason Churchill noted.