Game 38, Mariners at Orioles
Wade Miley vs. Ubaldo Jimenez, 4:05pm
It’s raining in Baltimore, but it’s supposedly supposed to dry up by game time.
Both clubs come into today’s game tied for the lead in their respective divisions, the Orioles with the Red Sox, and the M’s with the Rangers. Baltimore was supposed to have a powerful but whiff-prone offense, and they’ve delivered: they lead MLB in home runs, but while they’re above average in K%, they’re only at 13th – far below other similar teams like Tampa, Houston or Detroit. Manny Machado is proving that his break out was no fluke, and Chris Davis is off to a solid start, too. The surprise of the offense somehow isn’t CF, leadoff man and Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard, though I do wonder how often a Rule 5 pick gets to lead off for a good ballclub. Instead, it’s ex-Mariner disappointment Mark Trumbo, who shares the lead in HRs with Machado at 11, and is hitting .306/.362/.593 thus far. He’s penalized a bit for his defense, but he’s already produced 1.1 fWAR, or his season total from last year across the M’s and D-Backs.
The Oriole offense is tough because they combine a high HR/FB ratio with a whole lot of FBs. They’re #1 in baseball in HR/FB, and have the 10th-highest FB%. That’s going to be something for Wade Miley to think about tonight. A few years ago, you may have heard about this Andrew Koo article at BP noting that the Athletics had stockpiled fly-ball hitters, which, the thinking went, gave them an advantage against all of the ground-ball pitchers in the AL West at the time. On the cheap (of course), the A’s assembled a line-up that gave over 60% of its PAs to fly-ball hitters, by far the most in the majors in 2013. Those fly-ball hitters hit *best* against ground ball guys, and thus the A’s put together a solid offense by keeping an eye on a very different kind of platoon advantage.
Well, the Orioles have enjoyed some success against pitches classified as sinkers and two-seamers, as have other FB teams like the Mets and Blue Jays. Wade Miley’s been a ground ball guy for a while now, but unlike, I don’t know, Dallas Keuchel, he doesn’t *need* to be. Miley throws a rising four-seam fastball that, on its own, seems like a strong fly ball pitch. He’s also using it more this year than he has in the past; he was throwing his four-seam and sinker about equally often in his first few starts of the 2016 regular season, but he’s now throwing 2 four-seamers for every sinker. The Orioles’ linear weights against four-seamers is currently negative. This isn’t about getting Miley to go out of his comfort zone to combat an opponent’s weakness – it’s more that his recent shifts would seem to give him a better chance than might think (HR-plagued pitcher faces HR-slugging offense).
Ubaldo Jimenez is coming off a solid 2015, when a drop in his walk rate allowed him to post an above-average season after a poor 2014. Jimenez started 2015 strong, and kind of tailed off down the stretch, and unfortunately, he’s still not looking great. He’s given up a lot of the gains he made in walk rate, and his K% has dropped below 20% for the first time in years. He’s getting more ground balls thanks to using his splitter a lot more, but it hasn’t yet impacted his HR rate – when batters DO elevate the ball, they do damage. Thanks to the splitter, a curve, and an extreme over-the-top delivery, Jimenez never really had much in the way of platoon splits. But lefties are torching him this year, with a .386 average and a SLG% near .600. That’s BABIP-driven, sure, but it may be a sign that his fastball’s not able to keep them honest any more. Lefties and righties are teeing off on his fastballs, and at least *righties* can hit his splitter (lefties still struggle with it).
1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Iannetta, C
8: Marte, SS
9: Martin, CF
Tacoma enjoyed a walk-off 7-5 win over Omaha last night, scoring 4 in the 9th in the process. James Paxton started and posted a great K:BB ratio of 8:1 in 4 IP, but gave up 5 runs in a disastrous 2nd inning, giving up 4 extra-base hits in the frame. The bullpen made it hold up long enough for the Rainiers to mount a comeback. Ed Lucas homered twice (including the walk-off shot in the 9th), Luis Sardinas had 3 hits in the leadoff spot and Chris Taylor had 2 more. Oddly, Mike Zunino/Stefen Romero going a combined 0-9. The two clubs have a day game today on getaway day. Adrian Sampson’s going for Tacoma.
Mobile beat up on Jackson last night, scoring 6 in the first on their way to a comfy 10-3 win. Tyler O’Neill homered and walked for the Generals, but it wasn’t enough, as Jordan Pries (just sent down from Tacoma) gave up 9 runs in under 3 IP. Of note, Edwin Diaz pitched two innings for the first time, and was lights out: 1 hit, 0 BB, 5 Ks. Sam Gaviglio starts for the Generals in Mobile tonight.
The Stockton Ports smoked The Blaze’s Tyler Herb for 4 runs in the first and came away with an 8-4 win over Bakersfield. In Herb’s worst outing of the year, the RHP walked 6 after not walking more than 2 in any other 2016 start. Drew Jackson and Jay Baum both had 2 hits for Bakersfield. The Blaze head to High Desert tonight, with Tyler Pike on the mound-in-a-wind-tunnel in Adelanto.
Clinton was off yesterday, but kicked off a series against Quad Cities with a 6-0 win today. Zack Littell had his best outing of the year, with 7 2/3 scoreless IP and 8 Ks. Dalton Kelly singled and doubled, and Rayder Ascanio had 3 hits for the Lumberkings.