Game 161, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · October 3, 2015 at 3:44 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Roenis Elias vs. Sean Nolin, 6:10pm

The A’s Sean Nolin is something like Mike Fiers, who the M’s saw recently. His fastball is only 89-90 or so, but it’s arrow-straight with a lot of vertical rise. Like Fiers, he tore through the minors, posting gaudy strikeout numbers at pretty much every level. That’s how you get stories like this written about you. Unlike Fiers, though, Nolin hasn’t been able to make a slow rise-ball into a strikeout pitch in the big leagues. With a nearly even K:BB ratio and predictable HR rates, Nolin’s really scuffled since coming over as part of the big Josh Donaldson deal. His slider may be his best pitch, but without plus break, that isn’t saying much right now. He’s also got a curve and a change. Nolin made his A’s debut against the M’s back in early September, and will make his 6th start today – he had a couple of good, if short, outings early on, but is coming off two poor starts.

Roenis Elias has had a remarkably similar season to his rookie year of 2014. By K%, BB% and even ERA, it looks like a shot-for-shot remake. His HR rate is slightly higher, and thus his FIP isn’t what it was last year, but he looks like the same guy who surprised the league last year. That’s not to say he succeeds through deception and unpredictability, though. At the end of last year, Jeff Zimmermann wrote about Elias’ predictability. When he was ahead in the count to lefties, he threw a ton of curveballs. Setting aside his two different release points for RHBs and LHBs, he seems to have very different release points for his fastball and breaking ball. Batters would seem to have less trouble reading a pitch from Elias than just about any other pitcher in baseball, unless Fernando Rodney is tipping his pitches again. So is that something he fixed in 2015? No, it’s not. Last year, he threw curves 68% of the time he had two strikes vs. lefties. This year? 63%.

And yet, lefties can’t hit it. They’re hitting .116 on the pitch this year, and .117 in Elias’ two-year career. The release point may help, but I think Elias is more deceptive than I’ve given him credit for. The problem is that *righties* get a much better look at it, and while the pattern isn’t as extreme as it is to lefties, they seem to have noticed that Elias throws a lot more curves when he’s ahead. That’s led to one of the stranger splits I can think of. Batters have hit 6 HRs when *behind* in the count against Elias, while only 5 HRs when ahead in the count. Compared to the rest of the league, Elias is really, really good this year when he’s behind in the count (sOPS+ of 76), great in even counts (sOPS+ of 66), and awful when he’s ahead (sOPS+ of 154). Platoon splits are, with few exceptions, a fact of life in baseball, but this seems like a correctable flaw for Elias.

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

That abdominal issue that sidelined Robbie Cano for a few games a while ago? Turns out it’s a sports hernia, and Cano’s scheduled a surgical repair for it in about 10 days. Doesn’t sound like it will impact his off-season or spring training timelines at all.

Bob Dutton’s not about Cano also included the list of minor league awards for the M’s system. Co-players of the year were Jesus Montero and Tyler O’Neill, while Edwin Diaz won starting pitcher of the year and left-hander Paul Fry won reliever of the year. None of those should surprise those of you who followed the recaps this year. Fry’s numbers were remarkable: a 113:24 K:BB ratio in 80 innings over two levels with zero home runs allowed. Diaz dominated the Cal League, but had some trouble in AA. He’s still the toolsiest pitching prospect the M’s have, touching the high 90s with his fastball. O’Neill and “Heart and Soul” award winner Jabari Blash tied for the system lead in HRs with 32. While they’ve got strikeout issues, both looked better in the season’s second half.


17 Responses to “Game 161, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 3:51 pm

    Ever since Adrian Beltre played with a crushed testicle, I’m less impressed when I read about someone playing with some nagging injury or another. Sports hernia, big deal.

    I think the only thing that could maybe (and still, it’d be “maybe”) top Beltre is if someone “played through” a compound leg fracture. 😀

    (I’m actually not a fan of people playing while injured, since objectively it hurts the team most of the time. But at this point who cares.)

  2. Longgeorge1 on October 3rd, 2015 5:11 pm

    Was impressed with Blash’s second half. Apparently he gave up weed for the time being. That’s alright because I’m doing my best burn his share.

  3. mrakbaseball on October 3rd, 2015 6:21 pm

    What do we know about Tim Bogar? and is he the favorite to be the next Mariners manager?

  4. Longgeorge1 on October 3rd, 2015 6:58 pm

    I survived the ’62 Mets, so I guess I can handle this, but they are testing me!

  5. Longgeorge1 on October 3rd, 2015 7:04 pm

    mrakbaseball – I would find it encouraging. For better or worse it would appear that he and Dipoto would be on the same page.

  6. Longgeorge1 on October 3rd, 2015 7:12 pm

    I think the last two shots were hit pretty hard

  7. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 7:43 pm

    Swing the bat, Nelson.

  8. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 8:15 pm

    That’s why you don’t swing at those, Brad.

  9. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 8:15 pm

    Okay, you are forgiven Brad.

    Come on Sucre!

  10. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 8:19 pm

    Yeah! Marte!

  11. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 9:10 pm

    Come on, Tom. Pull it together.

  12. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 9:42 pm

    Pat Venditte is in! Really he’s the only reason I’m still watching this game – I was about to turn it off when they showed him warming up.

  13. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 10:20 pm

    Oh crap.

  14. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 10:42 pm

    I’m sick and tired of all the losing.


  15. Westside guy on October 3rd, 2015 10:45 pm

    Attendance was 24,448. Amazing how about 10,000 of those people had invisibility cloaks.

  16. groundzero55 on October 4th, 2015 2:26 am

    I’ve often wondered about that, Westside. Seems often a stadium is largely empty yet they announce a high attendance count. Do they automatically count season ticket holders as attendees?

  17. LongDistance on October 4th, 2015 4:03 am

    A question: can Sucre call Elias? I didn’t think Elias was missing that much, and so wonder if the per/pitch decisions were as well understood or as they seemed to have been with Zunino? (Note to Zunino: go to Mexico or Venezuela and get that bat thing fixed, you deserve and need to come up again but Dipoto won’t be giving slack for autoouts in the lineup…).

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