Game 55, Mariners at Rangers
Nate Karns vs. Martin Perez, 6:05pm
No shame in dropping a road game to Yu Darvish, but the M’s need to grab some wins in series like this. M’s right-handed bats have been great against opposing left-handers, and Martin Perez is a southpaw. That said, they haven’t exactly punished lefty starters overall, because some of their lefties have struggled. Norichika Aoki, I’m looking at you. For a guy who’s shown reverse splits over his career, he’s getting destroyed by lefties in 2016. Hasn’t hurt the M’s thus far, but this sure feels like a good day to give him a day off (hey, looks like the M’s agree!).
Perez is a familiar foe to the M’s, having made 7 starts against them previously. He throws a fairly hard sinker around 93-94, and mixes in a number of four-seamers, too. He throws a firm change with very similar movement to his sinker – it comes in around 8-9mph slower, though. He’s got a slider and a curve that he throws about equally. Perez has struggled a bit in his career and this year in particular with righties, so he typically sees a righty-dominant line-up; tonight he’ll see another. More than most pitchers, Perez really struggles to miss bats against opposite-handed bats. Most everyone strikes out more same-handed hitters, but Perez has below average K rates specifically because he can’t whiff righties. This year, that inability to get Ks has been supplemented with a lot more walks; control problems were a sporadic problem for him in the minors. This hasn’t hurt him thus far, but his FIP’s well above his superficially solid ERA. “Beating” his FIP isn’t some repeated skill for him – he posted a much *worse* ERA than his FIP last year.
Nate Karns is an oddity in that, unlike Perez, he’s consistently struck out more *opposite* handed hitters. His career FIP, career K% and HR rate are all better against lefties than righties. The Rangers’ line-up is pretty well balanced, with 4 lefties in there today. Karns stands apart from his teammates too in that he’s actually been a bit sharper on the road. The M’s as a staff have a much, much better K:BB ratio at Safeco, but Karns’ has been better on the road. The M’s could seriously use a longer start after their starters have been battered around for the past week.
Speaking of which, the M’s just gave their beleaguered bullpen an upgrade, calling up top prospect Edwin Diaz. The righty will be available for tonight’s game, with Cody Martin heading back to Tacoma. A few weeks back, I mentioned my skepticism about the timing of his shift to the pen, but also that his two-pitch mix and deadly sinker could be valuable to the M’s at some point. While you don’t judge a move like this on the basis of a few weeks in AA, his transition to relief really couldn’t have gone any better. In 10 relief appearances, Diaz has tossed 11 2/3 IP, given up just one unearned run on just *3* hits and 2 walks while striking out 16. He’s done 2IP appearances, he’s made 4 out saves, he’s come in with men on base, and to start innings. He’s seen most situations he might encounter as a Mariner, and he’s essentially dominated in all of them. With velocity touching 98 repeatedly and a sweeping slider, he’s a tough match-up. Diaz seems to have seen more of a jump in velocity than many who make the shift. He’s added 3-4mph, ala Mike Montgomery, and clearly needs more of a challenge at this point than the Southern League can provide. I’ll be curious to see how Scott Servais uses him.
1: O’Malley, CF
2: Gutierrez, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Lee, 1B
6: Seager, 3B
7: Iannetta, C
8: Romero, LF
9: Sardinas, SS
Tacoma wrapped up their homestand with an exciting 3-2 win in 10 innings. Trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th, the R’s struck for two runs, one on a Chris Taylor swinging bunt single, and the other on a Mike Zunino fielders choice. The Rainiers then walked it off in the 10th, when Patrick Kivlehan led off with a dinger. The R’s are in Las Vegas tonight, with recently called-up Sam Gaviglio starting.
Jackson keeps rolling too, winning 2-1 over Tennessee. Tyler O’Neill homered yet again – his 10th on the year. Speaking of guys who might need more challenges than the Southern League can provide, O’Neill has been remarkable on the season. Kyle Hunter got the start and pitched 5 solid innings, and the Generals pen did the rest. Special mention goes out to Emilio Pagan, who K’d 4 in 2 IP, and now has 35 Ks in 25 1/3 IP, and has successfully converted all 8 of his save opportunities. They’re trying to play tonight, but it’s raining in Tennessee at the moment. Ryan Yarbrough was scheduled to start.
Bakersfield beat Stockton 8-6, keeping A’s prospect Casey Meisner winless for 2016 and touching him for 7 runs in 4 2/3 IP. Tyler Marlette had his third two HR game since May 18th, getting Meisner in consecutive innings. The Blaze head to San Jose and a series with the Giants beginning tonight.
Clinton beat Beloit 4-2 thanks in large part to a 3-run first. Braden Bishop had three hits to pace the offense, and Nick Neidert turned in another good start, going 5 1/3 with only 1 run given up. He’s walked only 3 in his 15 2/3 of full-season ball experience. Nick Wells starts tonight’s game in Beloit.
The M’s Dominican Summer League team opens play today, too. The team’s three July 2nd signings from last year are all on the team – the troika of 17 year olds are SS Carlos Vargas, P Ivan Fortunato, and C Daniel Santos. OF Brayan Hernandez is probably the biggest prospect on the team; he was a notable July 2 signing in 2014 – BA had him as the 3rd ranked International prospect that year.