Game 47, Twins at Mariners
King Felix vs. Pat Dean, 7:10pm
Happy Felix Day!
And happy “it’s another org guy making a spot start” day as well. I can’t believe I was worried about that Zach Neal just because he was similar to Kendall Graveman, a pitcher getting destroyed by the AL thus far. Anyway, Pat Dean is…a left handed pitcher. The Twins drafted him in the 3rd round out of Boston College several years back, but he took a long time to move up the ladder. An inability to miss bats and occasional HR trouble kept him firmly in the value-at-org-level range, until the stars aligned and he posted a great ERA for AAA Rochester last year.
If you knew nothing about the guy, not what teams he played for or anything, and you just looked at this Fangraphs page, I think you’d accurately pick him as a Twins hurler. In a few hundred innings across A-AA, Neal posted K% in the 10-13% range, marks that are essentially outside of the general big league distribution. From 2012-2015, 8 qualified pitchers posted K rates under 13%: Henderson Alvarez, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia, Jeremy Guthrie, Clayton Richard, Mark Buehrle and Scott Diamond. Of them, *three* pitched for the Twins – Correia did it twice, once for the Twins, and once the year before they acquired him. It’s hard to make a living at this level giving up quite so many balls in play. It didn’t used to be, and you can certainly question whether the focus on the three true outcomes has become a tic, more obsessive compulsive disorder than logical thinking about winning ball games. But the stats do indicate that pitchers with Twins-level strikeouts tend to have Twins-style flameouts sooner rather than later. Diamond, Correia and Richard never qualified for the ERA title again and Buerle retired.
Dean throws a fastball without much notable movement in the 89-91 range; it has some armside run, but is pretty much average in vertical movement. His primary breaking ball is a cutter at 85 with moderate sink. He’s got a change-up without much sink at all, and a curve in the high 70s. He doesn’t elicit lots of out-of-zone swings, and he allows plenty of contact, so you’d figure he’d need to be a guy with an extremely low BABIP, but he hasn’t shown any aptitude for that, either. In his brief MLB career, it’s sky high, but it was over .300 for most of his MiLB career, and only .282 in his low ERA year last season. He’s been a fly ball pitcher which *should* help his BABIP, so I’ll just throw up my hands and say I’m not sure how Dean made it, or how he’ll stick around. Kudos to him for shutting down a good Toronto line-up in his only other big league start, but there’s a reason ZiPS’s rest-of-season FIP projection for him starts with a 5.
The Twins offense has been the worst in the AL thus far, with a slash line of .235/.301/.374. That’ll beat out the AAA clubs at the bottom of the NL, but that’s still pretty atrocious – it grades out to a wRC+ of 84. With a low-ish walk rate and bottom-third power, this may be a good match-up for Felix. His command hasn’t been elite yet, but he hasn’t really paid a price for it. He should feel emboldened to attack the zone a bit tonight, especially against the softer underbelly of the offense. It’s not entirely bad; Miguel Sano has pop, as does newcomer Byung-ho Park. But the back end of the line-up, with SS Eduardo Escobar, CF Danny Santana looks very much like a chunk of a Mariners’ line-up from 2010-2014 or so. Santana’s up because top prospect Bryan Buxton completely face-planted in April, and 2B Brian Dozier’s break out seems like it was a long time ago; in the last calendar year, Dozier’s posted a wRC+ of 89 with a .222/.295/.400 line.
1: Aoki, CF
2: Gutierrez, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Lee, 1B
6: Seager, 3B
7: Iannetta, C
8: Romero, RF
9: Sardiñas, SS
SP: El Rey
With Leonys Martin’s hamstring injured, the M’s have a decision to make. They can DL him and bring up an OF, or hold off for a few days to see if he’s ready. Martin apparently doesn’t want to go on the DL, but the M’s may want to be cautious…hamstrings can be stubborn. Boog Powell is still with Tacoma, so that’s not it. As Mike Curto just reported, Stefen Romero – hitting .358/.417/.601 at the moment – is flying to Seattle in case the M’s decide to DL Martin. [Edit 5:46] Ok, now we know: Martin’s heading to the DL retroactive to yesterday, and as you can see, Romero’s up and starting.
Tacoma pitchers’ string of 27 consecutive scoreless innings came to an end in last night’s 4-1 loss to Round Rock. James Paxton started well, but gave up 2 unearned runs in the 6th, and then the bullpen let a few more. Efren Navarro’s HR accounted for the Rainiers’ lone run. It’ll be Brad Mills on the mound for Tacoma tonight against New Orleans and fellow big league vet Chris Narveson.
Jackson beat Montgomery 8-5 thanks to HRs from DJ Peterson and 2B Tim Lopes. Brett Ash got the win, but the story on the mound may have been Edwin Diaz, who got a 4-out save, coming on with men aboard in the 8th. He K’d 3 of the 4 hitters he saw. He’s now made 7 appearances in relief, tossing 8 1/3 scoreless innings. He’s allowed 3 hits, no walks, and has struck out 14. The M’s thought he could be ready soon when they made this move. If he shows he can handle pitching on back-to-back days (coming up soon, I’d think), then he’ll be ready. Performance wise, this has gone better than anyone could’ve hoped. Jordan Pries takes the mound today for Jackson.
Bakersfield’s 3 run 6th propelled them to a 4-3 win over Rancho Cucamonga. Tyler Herb K’d 6 in 6 solid innings, though he did give up 2 home runs. Kyle Petty had 3 hits including 2 2Bs for the Blaze. The story in the league last night was Lancaster’s drubbing of Stockton by a football score of 29-11. The only Ports pitcher who didn’t get absolutely lit up was their left fielder, Melvin Mercedes who ended the game with 1 1/3 scoreless and a strikeout. Anyway, it’s Tyler Pike’s turn in the rotation tonight for Bakersfield as they face 16-32 Inland Empire, the Angels affiliate who swept them earlier in the year.
Clinton beat Wisconsin 7-6 with a walk-off sac fly in the 11th inning. The Lumberkings held a 6-2 lead late, but gave up 4 runs in the 7th/8th to send it to extras. Art Warren started and went 5 IP with 8 Ks, and Darin Gillies K’d 5 in 3 scoreless innings to pick up the win. Zack Littell starts for Clinton tonight.