Game 50, Padres at Mariners
Nate Karns vs. Andrew Cashner, 1:10pm
Let’s just forget about that last series, shall we? What better way to do that than with the adrenaline rush that only the M’s natural rivals can bring? Everything means a bit more, every inside pitch seems laden with evil intent. Ok, not so much. The Padres come into the series in last place in the NL West, with a below-average pitching staff and an even more below-average line-up.
After AJ Preller’s failed go-for-it bid in the 2014 off season, the Padres changed course, attempting to fix their cover-your-eyes-bad defense, and moving guys like Craig Kimbrel for prospects. For whatever it’s worth, these moves seem fairly solid – prospect folks like the haul they got from Boston from Kimbrel more than the guys they shipped to Atlanta FOR Kimbrel, and their defense has graded out a bit above average thus far, with Jon Jay replacing the ill-advised Wil Myers in CF experiment (Myers is now the Pads first baseman, so, y’know…) and the strangely ineffective Will Venable.
Moving on from the likes of Justin Upton and Kimbrel hasn’t really helped the 2016 team, though. Their offense has posted a .284 OBP, tied with Cincinnati for the worst in baseball, and their wOBA is dead last in the game, thanks to a line-up (and park) that’s relatively power-free. Their pitching staff’s given up the 3rd worst walk rate, and their bullpen’s been somewhat unlucky. The arms are merely a bit disappointing, as opposed to the out-and-out bad of the bats, but it still seems kind of remarkable that this club decided that they could do without Nick Vincent near the end of spring training.
Today’s starter is Andrew Cashner, the hard-throwing right-hander who’s been with San Diego since 2012, and a member of their rotation since 2013. In his early years with Chicago and San Diego, he threatened the 100mph barrier pretty regularly, and had top-10 velocity for a few years. He’s dropped back a bit, now more 94-96, and the league has caught up a bit; pitchers throw a bit harder now, so Cashner’s velocity is no longer really remarkable. He’s thrown an evolving mix of four-seamers and sinkers. In 2012-13, he was primarily a four-seam guy, mixing in a rare sinker just to give the hitter something to think about. By 2014, he’d almost flipped, throwing 2 sinkers for every four-seam fastball. This pushed his ground ball rate up over 50%, but it meant Cashner missed remarkably few bats. For someone with an above average fastball, a decent change-up and a slider, his 18% K rates were disappointing. He was better last year, getting his K rate over 20%, but perhaps due to the Padres’ defense, his sky-high BABIP made his perfectly good FIP kind of irrelevant.
Thus far in 2016, he’s shifting back towards his four-seam fastball, and he’s picked up a new pitch – a curve ball. He threw it sparingly last year, but he’s going to it more in 2016, and while it’s not an obvious plus pitch, it might help change batters’ eye level, particularly paired with high four-seamers. That’s the theory, anyway. The reality is that his K rate is down to 16%, and his walk rate’s threatening 10%, somewhere it hadn’t been since his initial cups of coffee with the Cubs 6 years ago.
1: Aoki, CF
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, DH
7: Lee, 1B
8: Iannetta, C
9: O’Malley, SS
Sooo, the M’s have a playing-at-home problem. I’ll talk about this in the next post, but this seems to be a home run issue. Do the M’s pitchers, or at least a subset of them, pitch *differently* at home than they do on the road? I think so, and that means the M’s have some decisions to make.
Tacoma’s Donn Roach had another solid start for Tacoma, but came away with a hard-luck loss in New Orleans’ 2-1 win. Former Astros/Marlins starter Jarred Cosart got the win. Chris Taylor had two hits to lead the offense. Cody Martin starts today for Tacoma.
Jackson beat Montgomery 6-2, with Ryan Yarbrough getting the better of former M’s draft pick Ryne Stanek. Leon Landry homered off of Stanek in the 6th. The Generals are off today, and start a series against the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday, with Andrew Moore on the hill.
Bakersfield couldn’t make up for a 6 run first inning, eventually losing a 10-7 game to Inland Empire. Kyle Petty had two hits, two RBI and two walks in the game, and the 25 year old’s line is up to .337/.413/.500 on the year. Anthony Misiewicz starts for the Blaze today.
Clinton suffered a heartbreaking loss to Burlington, coming into the 9th with a 3-0 lead and giving up 4 runs, including a walk-off walk. The M’s first pick in last year’s draft, Nick Neidert, started and went 5 shutout IP with 3 Ks and just one hit allowed. Dalton Kelly homered and doubled for the L-Kings. Alex Jackson took home a golden sombrero, with an 0-4 with 4 punchouts. Nick Wells takes the mound today for Clinton.