Game 101, Mariners at Cubs

marc w · July 29, 2016 at 11:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Jon Lester, 11:20am

The M’s visit Wrigley Field to take on the team with baseball’s best record, the Chicago Cubs. The M’s starting pitching has been better recently, despite an off game from James Paxton the other day, but even at full strength, the M’s would be several steps behind the Cubs’ arms. The Cubs have allowed 3.5 runs per game this year, the best in the league. That translates into the best team ERA, of course, and their rotation’s been the key. Jon Lester’s not quite repeating his dominant 2015 (neither is Jake Arrieta, of course), but he’s still been remarkably good, and his age 30-32 seasons have been the best of his career. While Lester’s ERA’s great, his FIP is only average to good thanks to some slight HR difficulties. It hasn’t hurt him that much thanks to a great BABIP of .261.

Limiting hard contact isn’t something Lester’s been known for (his BABIP was over .300 last year), but the Cubs may be on to something here. Their TEAM BABIP is even lower – it’s .256, far and away the best in baseball. In fact, the gap between them and the 2nd place Dodgers is as wide as the gap between the Dodgers and the Mariners, all the way down in 14th. They had an excellent team BABIP last year as well. A big part of this is their excellent team defense. Addison Russell’s been better than advertised at SS, Dexter Fowler’s been great in CF, and they added one of baseball’s best defensive corner OFs in Jason Heyward. But it kind of makes you wonder – has Joe Maddon and/or the Cubs brain trust figured something out regarding positioning? Are their pitchers using their command to induce weak contact? Some of them – Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks – almost certainly are…have they taught Lester a thing or two? Probably not, and it’d be impossible to prove, but the Cubs staff has been so *good* it’s hard to avoid conspiratorial thinking about them.

The Cubs offense has also been one of baseball’s best. Their combination of age, defense and pop makes them far and away the best position player groups in the game. The Cubs have been better than their best-in-baseball record indicates (by pythagorean record, they should’ve won 6 more games), which is probably why they upgraded their bullpen recently, trading for Mike Montgomery and then just a few days ago, Aroldis Chapman. This is a tough test for the M’s, but it’s a good one.

1: O’Malley, SS
2: Gutierrez, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lee, 1B
7: Martin, CF
8: Iannetta, C
9/SP: Iwakuma

Jeff had a great article on Iannetta’s abysmal framing stats this year. Iannetta was excellent last year after working with Hank Conger to perfect his technique; not sure what happened to it this year. Variance is normal, and players have good and bad years at everything, but the magnitude here makes you wonder about the metrics themselves. That said, the article mentions that multiple measures using very different methodologies agree not only that Iannetta’s been below average, but way, way below. Hard to hand-waive this away.

Pablo Lopez and Ryan Yarbrough headline the starters in the M’s affiliate minors tonight. Luiz Gohara’s 10 Ks in 6 IP was the standout performance in yesterday’s slate of games.

Site note: I’m going to be traveling a bit over the next 2 weeks. I’ll try to post when I can, but I’m going to miss some posts.


63 Responses to “Game 101, Mariners at Cubs”

  1. Dennisss on August 1st, 2016 9:03 pm

    Just for fun, I looked through the whole season and found that Cishek was in great measure responsible for 7 of the M’s losses this year:
    April 8
    May 13
    May 14 (gave up 3 runs)
    June 11
    June 23
    July 7
    July 31 (3 more runs)

    He has been a decent pitcher, but not exactly a dominant closer. That’s a lot of leads to blow. Everyone is going to give up some runs, but take a good closer and get back 4 or 5 of those, and the M’s are a game or so out of a playoff spot.

  2. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2016 9:04 pm

    BTW…Guti should be on another team. I do NOT like that guy. Nothing specific. Just a feeling.

  3. Dennisss on August 1st, 2016 9:08 pm

    Iannetta, 3 at bats, 3 K’s. He has become the black hole in the lineup.

  4. Dennisss on August 1st, 2016 9:12 pm

    Guti has a 115 wRC+ and positive 0.8 WAR. Not exactly All-Star caliber, but jeez, that’s a fan favorite there.

  5. Dennisss on August 1st, 2016 9:17 pm

    Another good start for Paxton. For a guy who started the year in the minors, he has looked good.

  6. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2016 9:24 pm

    I keep seeing the numbers for Guti, but I just don’t like him. Stats be darned.

  7. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2016 9:28 pm

    Arghhhh! These guys are frustrating!!!! Stop swinging weakly at ball 4!

  8. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2016 9:31 pm

    Oh yeah. There it goes. FIRE SALE!!!!

  9. Grayfox3d on August 1st, 2016 9:32 pm

    Cishek you are a bum! Thanks for coughing up even more runs.

  10. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2016 9:37 pm

    Si we leave it to Dae Ho, Kyle, and that other guy. Please don’t leave it up to him. Please???

  11. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2016 9:46 pm

    This team is in disarray. Bringing in Mike Z. Wow. This is what it’s come to.

  12. Notfromboise on August 1st, 2016 9:50 pm

    Wow, Cishek skipped foreplay entirely tonight.. I swear to god that was the 2nd pitch he threw…

    Mike Z might need to steal his way home from first here..

  13. Mid80sRighty on August 2nd, 2016 7:04 am

    Cishek was a good gamble, but unfortunately, didn’t turn it around like many hoped. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dipoto tried to trade him and just couldn’t get much interest.

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