Game 45, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · May 24, 2016 at 5:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Nate Karns vs. Kendall Graveman, 7:10pm

Last night’s game was no fun, from the offense’s complete inability to figure out a guy throwing a blizzard of slow curves (all while looking like a bookish middle manager) to Chris Taylor’s two key errors. All that said, the M’s open today’s game in first, and the A’s just used their only bullet. As I mentioned in yesterday’s preview, the non-Rich Hill parts of the A’s rotation have been dreadful. Coming into today’s game, 114 pitchers have thrown at least 40 innings in 2016. Kendall Graveman’s FIP ranks 113, ahead of only the enigmatic Shelby Miller. Graveman’s ERA is slightly better, but it’s still below replacement level, the ugly product of a bunch of home runs and too many walks.

The home run problem is an interesting one, as you wouldn’t assume Graveman would have that issue thanks to his good sinker and well above-average ground ball rate. Indeed, Graveman gave up a grand total of 6 HRs in his entire minor league career, spanning about 200 innings. In 42 2/3 IP this season, he’s given up 10. Why? Most of the damage has come against his fastball. Graveman throws a sinker around 92-93, with average sink, but he really buries it on the corner or just below the strikezone, and in to right-handers. It’s not a swing-and-miss pitch, but it’s allowed him to run great ground ball rates, and it sets up his best pitch, a hard cutter at 88mph that he locates like a slider, down and away to RHBs. The cutter has en even higher GB% when batters make contact, and it also generates more whiffs. All in all, it’s a pretty solid pitch.

But Graveman’s having trouble getting to it. He’s already given up 8 HRs on his fastballs, and batters are slugging around .800 on them (including his rarely used and rarely good four-seamer). Without a real putaway pitch, batters can look for his fastball, and if they guess right, they can adjust to its movement. This shows up in his statcast numbers, where his overall average exit velocity hides a stark difference between grounders and balls in the air. He’s perfectly fine on grounders, but when batters elevate the ball, they *average* over 95mph in velocity. This same pattern shows up in a number of players, from Sonny Gray this year (whose HR rate has also spiked this year) to guys like Nate Karns’ old teammates, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer and Erasmo Ramirez. It’s not a kiss of death, necessarily. Karns and Archer get away with it because they strike out enough batters that they don’t need to be perfect at contact management. Odorizzi and Ramirez don’t walk many, and post high strand rates…as long as they can keep doing both of those things, some scary fly balls won’t hurt. But Graveman isn’t a strikeout guy at all – his K rate’s lower AND he walks more batters. He can be successful only if he’s getting guys to hit it into the ground. When they elevate, bad things will happen. He was solid against the M’s back in early May, but even then, the M’s had a number of 100mph liners and fly balls turn into outs, and they had Robbie Cano’s deep drive clank off the wall instead of fly over it. The M’s won nonetheless. Here’s hoping they have an easier time of it today.

1: Martin, CF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Iannetta, C
8: O’Malley, SS
9: Aoki, LF
SP: Karns

Kyle Lohse and old friend Tom Wilhelmsen shut down the Rainiers offense in a 4-3 win for Round Rock. Adrian Sampson was solid through 6 IP, but gave up a 3R HR to ex-A’s 1B, Ike Davis. Lefty Kraig Sitton made his 13 appearance on the year, and his 6th for Tacoma. I mention it because Sitton is yet to allow a run on the year. 17 2/3 IP, 13 hits, 14 Ks, 2 unintentional walks, and zeroes on the board. Donn Roach starts tonight against Rangers prospect and MLB rotation depth, Chi Chi Gonzalez.

Jackson blanked Chattanooga behind a great start from Ryan Yarbrough. The righty went 7IP, with 3 hits allowed, no walks, and 7 Ks. DJ Peterson continued his hot streak with a double and HR, while Tyler O’Neill tripled. It’s a travel day for the Southern League today, but they’ll start a series in Montgomery tomorrow.

Bakersfield got blown out by Lake Elsinore, 14-5. Eddie Campbell struggled a bit, and then Thyago Viera struggled a lot in relief. Tyler Marlette was the player of the org for the day, hitting two HRs in the game – that’s the second time in a week he’s done that. Marlette’s been very good in May after a dreadful April; good to see. Lukas Schiraldi starts today’s game.

Clinton lost the finale to Burlington 8-3. Kyle Wilcox gave up 6 runs in 4 2/3, and Burlington couldn’t string together many hits. James Alfonso doubled, while Alex Jackson went 0-4. Jackson’s just 3-18 on the year (with 2 HRs, so his BABIP is terrible), but there are encouraging signs, too. His K:BB ratio is even at 3:3 – much better than last season, when he K’d 96 times in 76 games.


41 Responses to “Game 45, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. WTF_Ms on May 24th, 2016 6:11 pm

    I was at the game last night. Hopefully tonight the home plate ump doesn’t suck as bad. From my vantage point behind the plate, it looked bad. Was it that bad really?

  2. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 6:16 pm

    This will forever be remembered as The Night of the Lindacutioner, as Adam will literally kill someone with a hard-hit baseball–legally, and the A’s will never again take four in a row in Seattle.

    If anyone’s curious, this vision came to me as I dozed off while reading Sullivan’s piece about Martin hitting better over at fangraphs. I didn’t doze off because the post was boring, but I can’t explain why it happened–nor can I explain this vision. But rest assured you can take this to the bank. It’s gonna happen and I expect full credit for calling it.

    On that note, does anyone know of a quick remedy for an accidental glue-sniffing high?

  3. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 6:19 pm


    The strike zone was incredibly large last night, as many pitches clearly registered outside on pitchFX.

    Then there was the Seager-no tag incident. Pretty sure Taylor took a bribe to botch a couple of plays as well. That would explain that crooked look on his face in the latter innings.

    Not a fun game.

  4. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 6:51 pm

    And yes, I realize the a should have been an e, for Lindecutioner.

  5. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 7:32 pm

    Steve, I thought you meant one-time Pacific Northwest sportscaster Linda Cohn was going to return and start randomly killing people at Safeco.

  6. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 7:38 pm

    Funny! No, but she may be needed to take out Adam.

  7. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 7:40 pm

    nice strike zone tonight…. *facepalm*

  8. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 7:47 pm

    I’m becoming less and less fond of Aoki!

  9. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 7:51 pm

    Well that sucked.

  10. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 7:56 pm

    Servais needs to pull the plug on stolen base attempts–especially with Aoki. Wasted opportunities, time after time. Enough is enough.

    Now pass me the glue, I want to forget what I just saw.

  11. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 8:04 pm

    Anyone else think Cano looks like “Kid” from Kid ‘n Play?

  12. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 8:07 pm

    Doesn’t he need taller hair for that, Steve? Or am I thinking of someone else?

    Oh I guess not, now that they’re old…

  13. stevemotivateir on May 24th, 2016 8:18 pm

    Cano’s hair is getting up thair.

    I’m pretty sure that’s a line from one of their songs.

  14. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 8:44 pm

    All right, Aoki, how about not getting thrown out at second this time?

  15. msfanmike on May 24th, 2016 8:45 pm

    Nice play by O’Malley to end that previous inning.

  16. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 8:51 pm

    I only saw it on replay, but it did look pretty good.

    He may be a utility guy, but he’s better than Taylor unfortunately.

  17. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 9:02 pm

    Well this should be turning into another fun night of struggling at home real quickly.

  18. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 9:11 pm

    I’m not very optimistic when it comes to playing Oakland so I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say were gonna lose this game. I called last nights game after 1 run and you an just tell there’s nothing there tonight.

  19. SilverLance on May 24th, 2016 9:13 pm

    The “Buhner in the Booth” curse is on

  20. WTF_Ms on May 24th, 2016 9:27 pm

    Why on earth are we this bad against OAK, and at home in general?

  21. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 9:41 pm

    2 of 3 in Balt, sweep the Reds, come home and shit the bed against Oakland…sounds like a good time if you asked me.

  22. msfanmike on May 24th, 2016 9:55 pm

    Looks like the Mariners (and maybe even grayfox 3D) are rallying, assuming the latter did not jump off the ledge.

  23. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 10:05 pm

    I’m still falling from said ledge lol

  24. msfanmike on May 24th, 2016 10:18 pm

    Who is this lol of which you chat speak?

  25. msfanmike on May 24th, 2016 10:23 pm

    Nice tidy little comeback!

  26. Longgeorge1 on May 24th, 2016 10:23 pm

    Holy Shit! I do not fuckin’ believe it!

  27. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 10:24 pm

    I’m back! i survived the fall haha.

  28. mrakbaseball on May 24th, 2016 10:26 pm

    Does that one guy still want Patrick Kivlehan back?

  29. MrZDevotee on May 24th, 2016 10:30 pm

    Who loves these M’s? Huh? Come on, who loves these guys… This is a fun team. We’ve waited a LONG TIME for this… May not last, but for now it sure is fun… Big, stupid smile on my face after that ending…

    Go M’s!

  30. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 10:32 pm

    Woo hoo!

  31. Grayfox3d on May 24th, 2016 10:35 pm

    As much as the frustrate me, I still love them.

  32. WTF_Ms on May 24th, 2016 10:45 pm

    Lol! I’m with Grayfox3d! Frustrating as hell, but I love’em!

  33. Westside guy on May 24th, 2016 11:23 pm

    From this fan’s perspective, this was a big win. So often it has felt like Oakland has the Mariners’ number… so it’s nice to see it’s indeed possible for our boys to come back and win against them!

  34. SonOfZavaras on May 25th, 2016 12:44 am

    I am beginning to believe this team is for real.

    And I have waited a long time to be able to say that.

  35. Mid80sRighty on May 25th, 2016 8:42 am

    Not sure why it feels like Oakland always seems to have the M’s number. In the last 10 years the M’s are 100-98 vs. Oakland. 51-49 at home and 49-49 in Oakland.

  36. djw on May 25th, 2016 10:21 am

    ^Yeah, and over an era when the A’s are about 6-8 wins better than the Mariners on average. What’s the basis for “the A’s seem to have our number?” We’ve overperformed against them over the last decade.

  37. Westside guy on May 25th, 2016 11:14 am

    Well, the last decade would be irrelevant to me in this “analysis” because the Mariners have largely sucked… generally I’ve expected most any team to beat them regularly. 😀

    However going back further than that – back when the Mariners last mattered – while Oakland did play tough against the M’s, it’s not as if Oakland inordinately dominated the games compared to both teams overall records. So I’m not sure what the source of my feeling is. It could just be that whenever the Mariners had a good team, so did Oakland – so while it was frustrating as a fan, of course they won their share of games.

  38. Mid80sRighty on May 25th, 2016 11:53 am

    It feels like Oakland typically kicks the crap out of the M’s to me as well. But, obviously, that isn’t the case. So, I don’t know why it feels that way.

  39. MrZDevotee on May 25th, 2016 2:30 pm

    With Oakland I think the perspective gets skewed, ’cause they never seem to have that great of a lineup, so even if we go .500 against them, it feels like defeat…

    Even when they were WINNING the West, it didn’t always feel like they had the best players, so maybe losses to them just seem to hurt more than losing to a Rangers or Angels team, who might have a worse record, but have players that seemed better than ours… Losing to Pujols and Trout, or Beltre and Fielder, doesn’t feel as bad as losing to Coco Crisp and Jack Cust.

  40. Westside guy on May 25th, 2016 2:35 pm

    I wonder… I was looking at Baseball Reference:

    I noticed that, in 2005 and (especially!) 2006, the A’s pretty much owned the M’s. That was when the Mariners started to really stink out loud after the heady days of earlier in the decade – perhaps we were just overly sensitized at the time?

  41. Westside guy on May 25th, 2016 3:16 pm

    That’s a good point, MrZ.

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