Game 87, Mariners at Royals

marc w · July 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Yordano Ventura, 5:10pm

It’s been a rough week, for the M’s and for the country, and I can’t blame anyone who tunes out the rest of the campaign, or checks in a lot less frequently. I can’t do so (I think I need baseball more than ever, just due to how depressing the news has become), but I don’t want to demean those who will. As a .500 team, the M’s aren’t far out of contention, but the volume of clubs clogging their path forward and the sheer pain that bullpen collapses bring mean there’s a case for taking the under on Fangraphs’ now-under-10% playoff odds.

Yordano Ventura was supposed to do a lot of things. Build on his promising 2014-15 and anchor the rotation. Grow up a bit, stay out of trouble. Take the leap from high-velo prospect to vital #2 starter on the Royals’ thin rotation. Well, maybe next year. Ventura’s regressed in pretty much every way he can – his walk rate’s shot up, his strikeouts are down, he’s giving up HRs, and he’s already been suspended for beaning Manny Machado last month.* After FIPs right around 3.60 in his first two MLB seasons, he’s sitting at 5.12 now, and his ERA’s even higher. If the Royals had anyone else, he might move to the bullpen.

The problem for him this year is his fastball. It no longer averages 98 the way it did in 2014, but at 96+, it’s still got above average velocity. That hasn’t mattered though, as he’s given up 11 HRs on his four-seamer already, more than he gave up in either 2014 or 2015 – seasons he threw 80-100 more IP in. In a stat so odd you wonder what’s going on with KC’s pitching instruction, here’s a table showing the pitchers that have given up the most HRs on four-seamers this season. In first place by a mile is Chris Young, with 19. In second place is Ian Kennedy. Tied for 5th is Yordano Ventura, who’s thrown hundreds fewer pitches than some of the guys he’s tied with or behind (Scherzer, Verlander, Sale). Three Royals in the top 5. His change-up and curve still seem solid, and batters – especially lefties – are having real trouble with them. But he can’t *get* to those pitches when batters have an ISO in the .330s against his primary fastball.

Ventura’s never been great at getting batters to chase, but he’s now struggling to miss bats anywhere – batters are making more contact against Ventura than the league average, and they’re obviously doing more damage when they put it in play. Despite a lower BABIP, Ventura’s slash line against and OPS against are the worst of his career. Why? Part of it is the apparent velocity on his pitches isn’t quite up to his pure pitch fx readings. Thanks to a short stride and therefore release point, the 97mph pitch Kyle Seager hit for a HR back in late April “appeared” to be only 94, according to Statcast. That helps, but it doesn’t quite explain what’s going on – why is he getting hit hard in pitcher’s counts, why are lefties and righties alike destroying his four-seamer, etc.? I wondered about tipping pitches, but then I wouldn’t think his results on NON-fastballs would be as good as they are. If batters just ambushed fastballs in obvious-fastball counts, that’d be one thing, but they’re hitting fastballs wherever and whenever they find them.

James Paxton had a stretch like this recently, but in that case, the problem seemed more due to an inability to command his other pitches. His results aren’t great on his cutter, and his FB’s getting hit hard too – at least when batters catch up to it – but that seems like it could be related to finding his command/release point after altering his mechanics and release as much as he did.

Hisashi Iwakuma’s given up 5 HRs on his best pitch, his splitter. That’s one more than he’s given up in any other MLB season.

1: Martin, CF
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Marte, SS
8: Sucre, C
9: Robertson, RF
SP: Iwakuma

Welcome back, Sweet Jesus!

Charlie Furbush makes a rehab start tonight in Everett, so go check that out if you can. Tickets are still available, unlike for Sunday’s game, when King Felix makes HIS first rehab start. He’ll be in Tacoma after that.

Zach Lee faces off with Chris Stratton in Sacramento tonight, while Brett Ash faces Rays prospect Taylor Guerrieri in Jackson. Osmer Morales and Bakersfield are in Visalia, while Luiz Gohara makes his second start for Clinton today at Quad Cities. That game’s apparently on, too, so you can watch it and then shift over to the Rainiers/RiverCats game. Danny Garcia makes the spot start for Everett tonight.

* The pitch that hit Machado was his 2nd fastest pitch of the entire season, one of only 2 that Statcast measured above 100mph. He really reached back for something extra when he wanted to plunk Machado.


9 Responses to “Game 87, Mariners at Royals”

  1. Notfromboise on July 8th, 2016 5:20 pm

    One thing that’s struck me about this season is how well our additions have done.

    Ianetta has been solid if unspectacular. Dae Ho Lee is practically a Seattle Legend (off the basepaths anyway). Adam Lind has struggled at times, but he’s been far better than the Corey Harts and Logan Morrisons that predated him.

    Ketel Marte has avoided the sophmore slump that bit Brad Miller. Leonys Martin has done an amazing Mike Cameron impression in CF, the one rock in a largely inconsistent outfield.

    Aoki you can single out as the only real disappointment.. Which in itself is amazing considering how many of those guys I mentioned above are on the wrong side of 30. In 2015 the Mariner offensive slash line was : 249/.311/.722. In 2016 the Mariner offensive slash line is : .262/.328/.774.

    Now the pitching.. heh.. Miley and Karns have been hit or miss, and the bullpen is an unqualified disaster. Even the savior that got away (Carson Smith) has spent the entire season on the 60 day DL and pitched a whopping 3 games for Boston.

    But give Dipoto and Servais credit. This club needed to hit a ton better and they accomplished that. Go to Fox or ESPN or whatever and just look at the starting pitching #s we have put up this year. The fact that we are even .500 is pretty incredible.

  2. mrakbaseball on July 8th, 2016 7:33 pm

    Adam Lind has been garbage.

  3. Dennisss on July 8th, 2016 8:12 pm

    Cishek is back in the saddle, sort of.

  4. bookbook on July 9th, 2016 6:09 am

    No one talks about it, but Ketel Marte hasn’t been good. A 75ish OPS+ combined with fringe-average defense may not be a black hole at SS, but it’s also not the start of a long starting career. He’s a placeholder at this point, until the M’s can find a SS who helps win games.

  5. Dennisss on July 9th, 2016 2:37 pm

    As the Mariners reconstruct their starting rotation post-break, I have to wonder if Miley is going to be part of it. His FIP is 5.01 after 87 innings, and he’s having another pretty lousy day, although maybe he escapes with three runs, probably 5 or 6 innings.

    You have Felix, Iwakuma, probably Walker, and I think Paxton probably gets a spot now. After that, could be Miley, Karns, or Montgomery. Both Karns and Montgomery have pitched better than Miley.

  6. stevemotivateir on July 9th, 2016 2:38 pm

    Hello, ello, llo, lo…

    Where is everyone? As if there’s something better to do on a Saturday afternoon.

  7. Dennisss on July 9th, 2016 2:44 pm

    Well, it’s a good game. Would have been better without that caught stealing, but whaddaya expect?

    I, too, have something to do soon though…

  8. Dennisss on July 9th, 2016 3:13 pm

    Miley 5.1 innings, 10 hits, 2 walks, 4 runs, if Wilhelmsen keep it to that. Get well soon, Taijuan.

  9. Dennisss on July 9th, 2016 3:14 pm

    The Bartender, back with Seattle (where he belongs) and suddenly good again. And I’m sticking with that story as long as I can.

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