Game 59, Indians at Mariners
Taijuan Walker vs. Carlos Carrasco, 7:10pm
Last night’s win was a big one, not just to snap a losing streak that saw their playoff odds tumble, but because they needed to start winning games they should win. When Cody Anderson fills in for an injured Danny Salazar, you need to take advantage. Tonight, the M’s face a top-notch starter, but one who’s coming off a long layoff with a hamstring injury, and is having something of a let-down season. Can the M’s take advantage?
Carlos Carrasco turned heads in the second half of 2014, when the long-time swing man/reliever moved back into the rotation out of necessity and starting blowing people away. In 14 starts, he struck out 10 per 9IP, walked less than 2, and posted a FIP of 2.22 while sustaining 95mph velocity and throwing a nasty slider and change to back it up. Last year, Carrasco sustained the spike in K rate, posted another lovely FIP, but allowed quite a few more runs than his FIP would’ve predicted. His HR/FB rate went from good-lucky in 2014 to bad-lucky in 2015, and that essentially counteracted the improvements in K:BB. But the real story in his 2015 splits wasn’t platoon splits; lefties weren’t driving his increased dinger rate. Instead, it was his home park. Carrasco got hit much harder at home than he did on the road, giving up 12 HRs at home to just 6 on the road, despite logging more innings away from Cleveland. It pushed his home ERA/FIP well above his overall mark, but while Cleveland’s a good hitter’s park, it seemed like an oddity. Given the samples here, it probably *is* and oddity, but it’s a funny one. In 2016, that trend continues. He’s given up 5 HRs on the year, and *all* of them have come at home. At home, his ERA is 4.41, similar to last year’s 5.03, and his road ERA is 0.84 (2.49 last year). Are the M’s doomed because they’re playing in Safeco? No, and they should do their part to restore some balance to these nonsensical splits by hitting several homers tonight.
Carrasco’s velocity’s down about a tick on the fastball (he throws a four-seam and a sinker, both with some sink to them), and his fastball’s given him problems thus far. 4 of his 5 HRs allowed have come on FB, so he’s given up 4 HRs and struck out only 4 on four-seamers and sinkers combined. That’s good for the M’s, as Carrasco’s other pitches still look nasty. He throws a hard slider that looks cutter-y to me, so we’ll see two pitchers tonight who throw what look to any neutral observers like cutters, but they call them sliders. He’s also got a very hard curve (~82-83mph) with some good break. His change-up is, like everything else he throws, very hard at about 89mph. In speed and movement, it’s an absolute dead ringer for Felix’s hard cambio. At least in 2015, the results on it were similar, too – both get swinging strikes and a ton of grounders on that pitch, despite the fact that the velocity gap between change and fastball is quite different for each pitcher. The moral of the story here for the M’s is keep Carrasco in FB counts, and don’t take fastballs in the zone.
In the past two years, Carrasco’s been masterful at getting batters to chase, but his o-swing% has tumbled this year – it’s gone from 39% a year ago to just 26% this year. Given his layoff, the 2016 sample’s tiny, and Bauer’s awful o-swing numbers didn’t appear predictive in his start against the M’s. Still, it’s another encouraging sign that Carrasco’s not quite the ace-in-the-making he appeared to be in 2014.
1: Aoki, CF
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Gutierrez, RF
8: Marte, SS
9: Iannetta, C
Ketel Marte’s neck spasms forced him out after batting practice yesterday, but he seems to have healed up. Weird glut of short-lived neck spasms on the M’s this year…
As mentioned last night, the Rainiers had a forgettable day in Las Vegas, as Adrian Sampson got knocked around for the first time. So forget that. Today, the story is that Tacoma will host the 2017 AAA All-Star game, quite a coup for Cheney and Tacoma. That should be a fun one – I look forward to seeing some pretty good prospects play at Cheney next year. Tacoma’s off today, but look for Leonys Martin in the line-up tomorrow as the R’s return home to face Reno. Martin’s supposed to get 7 IP, but with Donn Roach on the mound, I don’t know how busy he’ll be.
Jackson beat Pensacola 4-1, getting two runs in each of the first two innings and coasting to victory. Dylan Unsworth, one of SEVEN Generals named to the Southern League All Star team, pitched one scoreless IP before giving way to Kyle Hunter. We’ll have to see what’s going on there – no word on a promotion as yet. The Generals magic number to clinch the first-half title is now at 3 with 12 games left.
Bakersfield completed a 7-0 road trip and won their 8th in a row overall with a 7-3 win over San Jose. Tyler Pike wasn’t great, but pitched out of trouble, but the bullpen was solid behind him. Kyle Petty and Austin Wilson each had 3 hits for the Blaze. Bakersfield will have three representatives at the California League All Star game: 1B Kyle Petty, SP Tyler Herb and RP Kyle Schepel. The Blaze have a day off.
Clinton blanked Wisconsin 6-0, as Zack Littell dominated for 6 IP, striking out 8. Logan Taylor had 3 hits and a homer, while Dalton Kelly doubled and tripled for the Lumberkings. Art Warren starts for Clinton tonight.