Game 57, Indians at Mariners

marc w · June 6, 2016 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Trevor Bauer, 7:10pm

That Texas series was a serious blow. As Jeff detailed today at Fangraphs, the Rangers have overtaken the M’s as the playoff favorites in the AL West. Their ace starter is back, and many of the things that impeded them early on – Shawn Tolleson, Delino DeShields – have been demoted. They are by no means a juggernaut – their DH is expensive and suffering through a terrible year, and is now whining about his playing time. Their 1B has been nearly as bad. Their pitching staff has a terrible FIP thanks to a ton of HRs allowed. Still, they exposed some weaknesses on the M’s, and now we’ll see how Seattle responds.

One of the Rangers’ strengths this year has been their depth, and thus when Rougned Odor got suspended, they called up ex-top prospect Jurickson Profar, who’s been amazing. Profar’s play – and the, uh, needs at 1B – has essentially made it impossible for the Rangers to send him down again. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’d love to see James Paxton force the M’s hand with a couple of eye-popping starts. He had unreal velocity and stuff the other night, but zero command of it, and he paid the price with tons of hard contact. The new velo means he doesn’t need pinpoint command, just something better than what he showed in San Diego.

His opponent tonight is enigmatic right-hander Trevor Bauer. I’ve probably spent more words on Bauer than any non-M’s pitcher over the past few years – attention that his performance to date doesn’t seem to warrant. There’s something remarkable about his very public discussion of strategy, training, and study of the game that’s remarkable for fans (no need to have that information filtered through the press), and for sabermetric fans in particular. The fact that he came up throwing pretty much every pitch under the sun, like a nerdy American Yu Darvish, didn’t hurt, either (screwballs! Woo!!). Yet here we are, over 400 innings into his big league career, and he’s put up about 3 fWAR. So much of the promise he showed at UCLA and in the minors remains to be tapped, and you start to wonder why.

It’s certainly not due to any lack of effort on Bauer’s part. Whether working with Kyle Boddy at Driveline Baseball here in the northwest, or working with Ron Wolforth in Texas, and of course his own coaches with Cleveland, Bauer’s diligent about training and talking about his process. His work on “pitch tunneling” – or making sure different pitches look very similar at the point where a batter chooses to swing or not – is a great example, and we’ve now got data suggesting that being good at doing this leads to much better outcomes. He’s not just training for the hell of it, he’s got a (very good) plan, and he’s attempting to execute it. In fits and starts, it shows a hell of a lot of promise.

But it’s not working nearly enough, and I’m not quite sure why. 119 pitchers in baseball have thrown at least 50 innings this year. Of these, Bauer ranks 115th in o-swing%, or getting batters to swing at balls. By itself, that’s not a kiss of death – there are some decent pitchers in the 100-119 range. But they’ve all got some way to mitigate that deficiency. Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon just don’t throw balls to begin with. Same with Rich Hill, who gets batters looking with his curve, and has very low contact rates when batters DO swing. Steven Wright’s 119th and having a great year, but hey, the knuckle ball really is a different animal, and it can lead to plenty of whiffs on strikes. Aaron Sanchez gets a ton of ground balls. Bauer doesn’t really have these mitigating circumstances – he walks too many batters, so the fact that batters seem to recognize pitches that are going wide (even if “tunneled” correctly) is bad news. He’s not a big ground ball guy, so HRs have been an issue as well. There’s nothing weird about his BABIP, unlike, say Chris Tillman, so he’s giving up plenty of baserunners.

All he can do is keep tinkering, the way he’s always done. Last year, his slider was his primary breaking ball, with a rising four-seamer as his #1 fastball. In 2016, he’s basically thrown no sliders at all, replacing it with a cutter, and gone to his good curve a bit more. This year, he’s throwing his sinker more than his four-seam, which may be why his GB% is up substantially. He’s not afraid to throw it up in the zone, but its movement is different enough that it gives batters a different look. That’s great. But his ERA/FIP are both around 4.25, and that’s just not what the Indians expected when they acquired him, nor is it what Bauer would expect of himself. Through years of training, through years of honing, altering, and remixing his repertoire, there’s been remarkably little change in his results. He’s never had an ERA or FIP under 4.

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

Welcome back, Ketel Marte! Leonys Martin’s eligible to be activated on the 10th, I believe, but it’ll be longer than that for King Felix. Fingers crossed.

Good pitching day in the minors, with Tacoma’s surprising Adrian Sampson starting in Vegas, and Tyler Herb in San Jose. Brett Ash and Jackson host Pensacola.

Andrew Moore was solid for Jackson yesterday, but benefited from some good offense in the Generals win over the Blue Wahoos. DJ Peterson led the way with 2 HRs. Joe DeCarlo also hit 2 dingers for Bakersfield, part of a 4 HR day for the Blaze, in a 7-5 win.


32 Responses to “Game 57, Indians at Mariners”

  1. Grayfox3d on June 6th, 2016 7:18 pm

    I thought I was gonna be happy that Marte was back….. but right now im not.

  2. mrakbaseball on June 6th, 2016 7:40 pm

    Where did Paxton get this unreal velocity? He hit 100 mph in the first.

  3. Westside guy on June 6th, 2016 7:47 pm

    I like the version of Paxton we’re seeing at the moment.

  4. Grayfox3d on June 6th, 2016 8:02 pm

    Supposedly he changed his arm angle or something and it upped his velo.

  5. WTF_Ms on June 6th, 2016 8:27 pm

    And….here we go again. Losing streak looming!

  6. Grayfox3d on June 6th, 2016 8:47 pm

    Thank you Paxton for showing up tonight, too bad the offense is still asleep on the plane….

  7. Dennisss on June 6th, 2016 9:01 pm

    Paxton hits 100 mph, gets 10 strikeouts, 1 walk. Probably all for a loss, but that’s encouraging. Not a bad weapon to have stashed in AAA.

  8. Dennisss on June 6th, 2016 9:06 pm

    Diaz throwing harder than Paxton. Welcome to the big leagues!

  9. Grayfox3d on June 6th, 2016 9:28 pm

    I think pitchers have found a new weak spot for Cano… he’s has swung and miss at a ton of pitches inside and low lately…. I dunno if anyone else has noticed that but it’s crap and needs to change.

  10. Westside guy on June 6th, 2016 9:46 pm

    Well, the pitching has improved lately, at least…

  11. mrakbaseball on June 6th, 2016 9:57 pm

    Looks like by this weekend, the Mariners are going to be struggling to stay above .500.

  12. Notfromboise on June 6th, 2016 10:32 pm

    Loved seeing Paxton bounce back tonight.

    Texas can start losing games anytime now, please. Unreal they are 7-0 against Houston this year lol.

  13. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 7:45 pm

    So Game 58.


    Pitcher: Mr. Miley

  14. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 7:51 pm

    Damn you, auto-correct!

    That’s supposed to be Aoki at lead off.

  15. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 8:21 pm

    Hey the Mariners are winning this game, 2-0. I suspect everyone is holding their breath…

  16. Grayfox3d on June 7th, 2016 8:26 pm

    holding my breath, crossing my fingers, knocking on wood… doing whatever it takes.

  17. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 8:31 pm

    Whatever you’re doing, it’s working!

    Clevenger comes through!

  18. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 8:32 pm

    Yeah! O’Malley!

  19. Grayfox3d on June 7th, 2016 8:34 pm

    Great job bottom of the order! I foresee Aoki being the Rally Killer… stay tuned!

  20. Dennisss on June 7th, 2016 8:35 pm

    Keep it going Aikido!

  21. Grayfox3d on June 7th, 2016 8:36 pm

    1 pitch was all it took Aoki.. lol

    6 – 0 Mariners! lets go boys!

  22. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 8:46 pm

    Hahaha Dennisss.

  23. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 8:54 pm


  24. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 9:12 pm

    Nice! Seager!

  25. msfanmike on June 7th, 2016 9:29 pm

    Westy: could you please guide me through how to find Nelson Cruz’ stat line after 58 games – last season. It can’t be far from his ’16 numbers after the same number of games.

  26. Grayfox3d on June 7th, 2016 9:31 pm

    I think he is a bit behind what he did last year. If i remember correctly, last season he didn’t really dip below .300

  27. Grayfox3d on June 7th, 2016 9:33 pm

    I think Benoit will be the next arm to get the boot when Zych or Furbush ever come back.

  28. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 9:38 pm

    Uh… as soon as I figure it out, I’ll let you know Mike!

  29. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 9:47 pm

    Well it’s not what you really want, but I did find the month-by-month Fangraphs splits, anyway.

    Mar/Apr 198 wRC+
    May 181
    June 80

    Mar/Apr 139 wRC+
    May 157
    June (so far) 144

    Boy he stunk up last June! But didn’t it turn out he was hurt?

  30. Westside guy on June 7th, 2016 9:48 pm

    Woo hoo!

  31. msfanmike on June 7th, 2016 9:51 pm

    Thanks Westy. I now know about as much as I knew before. I do appreciate the effort, though.

    There is some kind of way to find full stat lines – between years – after a specific number of games. I will begin that quest tomorrow.

  32. msfanmike on June 7th, 2016 9:55 pm

    Or, I can conclude that he has a few less collective WRC+ so far this season.

    That’s probably how it works.


    Fist bump.

    Post that

    Twitter it.

    Going viral now.

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