Cactus League: Split-Squad Royalty

marc w · March 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

M’s vs. Royals, 1:05pm, Taijuan Walker vs. Matt Strahm

M’s vs. D-Backs, 7:10pm, Felix Hernandez vs. Tyler Wagner

Happy Felix Day. Hopefully, Taijuan Walker takes another step towards some sort of royal title today – not Prince, not yet, at least, but Duke, Viscount or Satrap. Walker faces the Royals, in a rematch of a game back on the 9th of March, when Walker faced off with Matt Strahm. In that game, Strahm threw four-seam fastballs on 41 of his 47 total pitches. We’ll see if he’s as predictable as that again, or if that game was about building arm strength. Walker was magnificent in that contest, using his curve ball for strikes, hitting 98 with his fastball and getting 5 whiffs on the 5 splitters he threw. Sure, Drew Butera of all people hit a HR, but that game was as good as any appearance we’ve seen this spring.

Strahm isn’t fighting for a spot on the World Series champion Royals – he’s already been optioned to AA. That’s not a surprise or anything, as Strahm pitched last year in high-A. The Royals have to like what they’ve seen, though. As a 21st round pick, he racked up Ks in the minors with a sneaky, running 91mph fastball and a curve. Despite the arm-side run, there’s really nothing in the velo or movement that screams “difficult to hit” so it’s got to be encouraging to see him miss a few bats and induce a flurry of ground balls in the Cactus League.

In the nightcap, King Felix takes the hill against Tyler Wagner. Wagner was a college closer, but converted to the rotation when he was drafted by the Brewers. He came over to Arizona in the Jean Segura/Aaron Hill/Chase Anderson deal this off-season. The sinkerballer was someone I mentioned a bit in the minor league recaps last year, as he shot through the Brewers system and ended up making a couple of appearances for Milwaukee late last year. He throws 91-92 and also adds a slider and change, but he relies on a straight cut fastball and a sinking four-seamer that acts like a sinker. He got roughed up a bit in his big-league call-up, but he remains a solid prospect, albeit one who’s lack of pure stuff and bat-missing ability will always limit his hype (and ceiling).

Game 1:
1: Aoki, CF
2: Sardinas, SS
3: Seager, 3B
4: Lee, DH
5: Smith, RF
6: Montero, 1B
7: Taylor, 2B
8: Brantly, C
9: Robertson, LF
SP: Walker

Game 2:
1: Martin, CF
2: Marte, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Lind, 1B
6: Gutierrez, RF
7: Clevenger, C
8: Navarro, LF
9: Lucas, 3B
(This one’s televised on Root Sports)

The story today, as it is seemingly every day, concerns an ailing Mariner reliever. Bob Dutton reports that Charlie Furbush is progressing a bit more slowly, so it doesn’t seem like he’ll be ready to go today. This makes it more likely that the M’s may be without their best lefty reliever on opening day. That’s good news for Vidal Nuno, perhaps, but it’s not great news overall.

Stefen Romero’s out today with a bit of a strain in his back. He’s hoping to play tomorrow.


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