Game 89, Mariners at Royals
Mike Montgomery vs. Dillon Gee, 11:15am
Suddenly the All-Star break can’t get here soon enough. The M’s are .500, but trail six teams in the wildcard chase, and it’s looking like 86 wins or so won’t cut it. To make a run, they need to get significantly better, but it’s harder and harder to imagine Jerry Dipoto adding a significant piece at the trade deadline. This is a better team than they’ve shown. Whether it’s good enough to make a run (they’ll need to play at around a .600 winning percentage pace to do so) remains debatable.
Today, both the M’s and Royals trot out spot starters ahead of the four day layoff. For the M’s, it’ll be former Royals prospect Mike Montgomery, who’s been a revelation out of the bullpen. James Paxton’s big velocity spike gets the (deserved) attention, but Montgomery’s added 3-4 MPH himself this year. It’s apples to oranges, of course, as Montgomery’s role change is an important factor in his improvement, but it’s still a much bigger jump than average. The question now is how well he’s able to hold onto it as he moves back into starting. Carlos Carrasco of the Indians credited his time in the bullpen with his development from frustrating 5th-starter/swingman into a dominant-at-times #2 on a great Cleveland club. There’s something about UN-learning pacing that can be freeing for pitchers, though just as with anything in baseball, each pitcher responds differently. Personally, I’m just happy to see him throw more of his change, which I kind of figure he’ll do today. He’s throwing it far less often this year, and he’s become much more of a fastball/curve guy. Nothing wrong with that, but the change should be a good pitch against the Royals’ right-handers.
Dillon Gee is a sinker/slider/curve/change guy who’d been in the New York Mets rotation for years, but lost his spot when the club brought up Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. With a fastball in the 90-91 range, he’s far from overpowering. He relies on mixing his pitches and solid control to limit damage, and he’s actually been fairly good at it: his high strand rate’s allowed him to post a decent ERA despite so-so stuff and occasional HR problems. That’s not to say his 2016 line is sustainable – his 86% strand rate is off the charts good, and it’s needed to be. His FIP is 5.31 thanks in part to a very high HR rate. Gee’s in the rotation today because Chris Young dingered his way out of a job, but it’s only in comparison to Young that Gee’s HR rate looks acceptable.
Gee’s got some traditional platoon splits, as you’d imagine with a sinker/slider-heavy pitch mix, so the M’s will have plenty of lefties in there today. Another reason Dae Ho Lee’s sitting is the contusion/bruise in his hand that forced him out of yesterday’s game. Sounds like he’s doing OK, and that he’ll be good to go after resting it over the break.
1: Marte, SS
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, DH
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Iannetta, C
8: Martin, CF
9: O’Malley, 2B
Zach Lee was solid over 6 IP, and Mike Zunino had 2 HRs in the Rainiers’ 5-3 win at Sacramento. Jordan Pries takes the mound for the R’s today.
Montgomery blitzed Jackson starter Brett Ash early and then held on for an 11-8 win. Jackson scored 5 in the 9th, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Bakersfield’s 9th inning comeback was a bit more successful, as the Blaze scored *7* in the 9th to walk away with a shocking 9-7 win over Visalia. 2B Gianfranco Wawoe’s hot streak continued, as he knocked his 4th HR of the year. He’s hit safely in 28 of his last 29 games, dating back to early June. Not a lot of pop there, but the IF out of Curacao has some great bat-to-ball ability. Zack Littell starts for the Blaze today.
Clinton didn’t need any showy late-inning comebacks, as they simply blanked Quad Cities 3-0 behind Luiz Gohara’s 6 great innings and Alex Jackson’s 8th HR. Pablo Lopez, who’s been very sharp in his 44 IP this year, takes the hill for Clinton today.
Everett beat up Spokane 10-3, as Kyle Lewis hit his 3rd HR, and 5th-round pick Donnie Walton hit his 1st. With Walton in the fold, the M’s signed all of their top-10 picks.
The AZL Mariners beat the Angels 1-0 on an 8th inning RBI triple from Joseph Rosa, an international signing a few years back. Nicaraguan righty Kevin Gadea was the big pitching star of the day.