Cactus League Game 4, Welcome Back, ‘Kuma
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Nick Tepesch, 12:10pm
Through the drama/confusion of Iwakuma’s courtship by the Dodgers, and the questions about his health, it can be easy to overlook the simple fact that he’s ready to go here in early March. Sure, the M’s may not get 200 IP per year from the righty, but this looks a heck of a lot better than 2014, when a finger issue lingered and kept him out for much of the first few months. Or 2012, when shoulder soreness sapped some of his strength in the spring and the early part of the regular season. Or 2015, when injuries nuked his entire first half. Very, very few pitchers are consistently healthy, and I think it’s fair to say Iwakuma’s less durable than most, which means I tend to be happier whenever there’s a lack of injury news. It’s not much to get excited about, but hey, Iwakuma’s an integral part of the M’s rotation, and a healthy ‘Kuma has a big impact on the M’s playoff chances.
Nick Tepesch missed all of 2015 due to injury, and was pretty ineffective in 2014 as well. Tepesch filled in for the oft-injured Derek Holland in 2013 and filled in for the injured..everyone in 2014 before succumbing himself. His velocity was down around 2 ticks in 2014, and his ground ball rate collapsed as well. That’s odd, given that Tepesch gets good sink and all of his pitches, including his four-seam fastball. He throws a sinker as well, a knuckle-curve and a change, but his primary breaking ball is a slider that he’ll throw to both lefties and righties. As Dave noted back in early 2014, Tepesch was similar to Martin Perez – the two had very similar 2013 campaigns, but Tepesch was unrecognizable in 2014. Perhaps due to lower velocity, Tepesch couldn’t miss any bats at all, and ended up DFA’d. When he was hurt last spring, the Rangers were kind enough to keep him on the MLB 60-day DL, meaning Tepesch got a pro-rated MLB minimum salary instead of a pro-rated minor league salary. This year, they gave him a non-roster invite, and he’ll try to earn a spot before Yu Darvish comes back from his TJ rehab.
1: Aoki, LF
2: Martin, CF
3: Sanchez, 1B
4: Smith, RF
5: Lee, DH
6: Iannetta, C
7: Sardinas, SS
8: Taylor, 3B
9: O’Malley, 2B
Sardinas and Martin each get to face their ex team. Chris Taylor makes his first start at 3B after working out there for much of the past week.