Game 86, Mariners at Royals

marc w · July 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Danny Duffy, 5:10pm

The M’s hid croutons of excellence amidst a vast sea of iceberg-lettuce mediocrity in Houston, and they paid the price in the form of a three game sweep. It’s not just that the M’s gap to 2nd place in the AL West is now 3 games, but that it was the Astros, and not the M’s, who chipped away at the suddenly-mortal Rangers. The M’s playoff odds got trimmed by 8 or so percentage points, and the Astros’ own odds are now above 60%. It was a series of bad outcomes, headlined by Tai Walker’s trip to the DL and the M’s overall problems in the clutch.

The M’s now face Kansas City, who are in a very similar position. Despite having a slightly better record, the Royals find themselves in 4th in the AL Central, which, combined with their poor preseason projection, has their playoff odds in the single digits. I don’t think they’re that bad, and think they could/should pass Chicago and possibly Detroit fairly soon, but they’ve got problems. Their starting pitching is an absolute mess, and I say that despite seeing the back end of the Orioles’ rotation not too long ago. Baltimore at least had some competence at the top, but Kansas City’s starters are the worst in the AL for a reason: they’ve got more depth to their badness. Chris Young’s weird HR/FB luck has snapped back this year, and he’s now packing a career’s worth of gopher balls into a half season.

Into this mess has stepped Danny Duffy, the guy who’s been projected as a key contributor to the rotation for what feels like a decade or so now. Thankfully for KC, he’s actually producing now, although he’s only made 10 starts to date. The lefty’s once-poor control’s now one of his greatest strengths, as his walk rate’s only 5% this year. Coupled with a K% near 29%, and you’ve got the makings of a dominant pitcher. Unfortunately, getting more of the plate often means giving up more dingers, and that’s the case here. No, it’s not as bad as Chris Young’s 4 HR/9, but it’s a problem – 9 of his 10 HRs allowed have come in his 10 starts. Now, the M’s DID just face a Houston team that’s also struggling with their rotation, and that didn’t go well. It’s not enough to score runs – the M’s rotation has to step up, too.

Duffy’s always had a big fastball for a lefty; it’s averaged around 95 for his career. But like his opponent today, it’s playing up this year, averaging 96+. Sure, sure, that’s partially the product of some relief appearances at the beginning of the year, but even while starting, his velocity’s a bit higher than his 2013-15 baseline. It looks like it took a jump up at the end of 2015, and it’s stayed there throughout 2016. Of course, no velo jump’s as insane as Paxton’s, but this will still be a fun match-up of high-octane lefties. He throws a hard slider to lefties, and then mixes in a change-up to righties. The slider’s a plus pitch, and as a result, lefties fare poorly against Duffy – over his career, they’re putting up a line of .205/.277/.287. Righties, though, have done just fine (.254/.337/.427), hence the right-handedness of today’s line-up:

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


17 Responses to “Game 86, Mariners at Royals”

  1. Dennisss on July 7th, 2016 6:45 pm

    ESPN says Paxton threw 35 pitches through 5 innings. At that rate, he should be able to stay out there 15, 16 innings.

  2. Dennisss on July 7th, 2016 6:51 pm

    I guess 4 double plays keeps your pitch count down. 4 hits, 1 walk, and he’s pitched to one batter over the minimum.

  3. Grayfox3d on July 7th, 2016 7:15 pm

    57 pitches over 7 innings… I don’t recall ever seeing that low of a pitch count before. Hopefully Paxton does NOT hit his proverbial wall and flop around the plate like he has before. Keep it strong kid! lets get it.

  4. Grayfox3d on July 7th, 2016 7:39 pm

    Please don’t blame me for that…..

  5. Dennisss on July 7th, 2016 7:49 pm

    Still hanging in…

  6. Dennisss on July 7th, 2016 7:50 pm

    Oh crap Cishek.

  7. Grayfox3d on July 7th, 2016 7:52 pm

    So im watching on gamecast, how do you double on a grounder to short stop?

  8. JMB on July 7th, 2016 7:54 pm

    What a stupid loss. Turn the flipping double play, Paxton, help yourself out!!

  9. Grayfox3d on July 7th, 2016 7:54 pm

    What an absolute waste of a good Paxton performance! this is very reminiscent of a few years ago where we were in contention and lost what like 11 games in a row right before the all star break.

  10. Dennisss on July 7th, 2016 7:58 pm

    After a game like that, I tend to feel like the whole team played well enough to win, except one guy couldn’t do his job, and he, all by himself, lost the game for them. Not quite entirely and completely fair, but close enough.

  11. Dennisss on July 7th, 2016 8:02 pm

    Cishek -.803 WPA.

  12. Grayfox3d on July 7th, 2016 8:03 pm

    So at this point, I don’t see any moves being made as far as the all star break/trade deadline and getting this team back into contention. So now it turns into a sit on your hands and hopefully dont go too bald by the end of the season.

  13. mrakbaseball on July 7th, 2016 8:25 pm

    Sell, sell, sell.

  14. Grayfox3d on July 7th, 2016 8:53 pm

    Id be fine with a sell sell sell honestly, They got alot of dead weight they probably can’t get rid of, but it would be nice if they could.

  15. groundzero55 on July 8th, 2016 2:27 am

    What dead weight? Aoki is already at Tacoma and isn’t hurting anyone. Lind? Can’t really blame the rotation or bullpen since half our pitching staff is on the DL and we are running guys out there regularly who should still be in AAA.

  16. Grayfox3d on July 8th, 2016 4:42 am

    Maybe I’m jumping the gun, who knows. I get very irrational after a dumb loss such ass last nights game, and after that sweep in Houston, it only adds to my annoyance. TBH when I was talking about dead weight, I was putting it in terms of the amount of money being spent vs. the return, In my head its probably alot different then it appears on paper.

    I like to pretend im a GM and make good decisions.

  17. LongDistance on July 8th, 2016 6:33 am

    Here we are, pretty much midpoint in the season, and I have to confess: I still don’t know what to make of this team. Not on Opening Day, not now. I always knew how I felt about them in the past, for better or for worse, or optimistic or pessimistic, both right out of the chute and at midpoint. But this. Nothing. Except for how they seem to be playing Yin to any Texas team’s Yang.

    Bring on the next series. Please.

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