Game 106, Red Sox at Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Rick Porcello, 7:10pm
You may be able to steal a game against the regular M’s bullpen, Boston, but you – and everyone else – must yield to Edwin Diaz. Jeff’s post at Fangraphs adds some great detail to what we M’s fans have seen: folks can’t hit Edwin Diaz, and they look funny when they try.
Let’s be clear: Steve Cishek is not the reason the M’s turned sellers at the deadline, but when a team underperforms its BaseRuns and pythag the way the M’s have, questions are going to be asked about the bullpen. And while the pen in general and Cishek in particular have ok K:BB and runs-allowed numbers, they’ve struggled in the clutch. Edwin Diaz, especially after a tiny mechanical tweak, doesn’t look capable of struggling – in the clutch or not. Of course, one good reliever can’t change a team’s fortunes – we know that from watching Diaz pitch well on an M’s team that continues to be about .500. But it’s nice to think that we may see fewer of the heartbreaking, yelling-at-the-tv kinds of losses the M’s have suffered in the late innings.
Rick Porcello is both a testament to FIP and an object lesson in its weaknesses. From 2011-2016, his yearly FIP has stayed in a narrow band from about 3.4 to 4.10. His K rate’s grown since his days as a pitch to contact sinkerballer, while his BB rate’s consistently good. He’s had HR trouble occasionally (especially last year), but still his FIP pegs him as a remarkably consistent, a-bit-above-average, SP. Look at his ERA, though, and consistent isn’t a word that’d spring to mind. His ERA approached 5 last year, but a touch *under* 3.5 this year and 2014. After approaching 4.80 in 2011, it fell every year until last year’s post-extension stinker. More than HR fluctuation, Porcello has had trouble in the past with BABIP and stranding runners (the two are related, of course). This year, he’s been solid in those areas, and thus, this year his FIP and ERA are pretty close. When he doesn’t – like last year – they diverge.
Despite the up-and-down results, Porcello signed a big four year extension with Boston last year. The deal was a signal to many that starting pitching – even pitching with a few warts and ‘hasn’t lived up to his potential’ – commanded big bucks and lots of value in trade. In completely unrelated news, Ariel Miranda will make his M’s debut and get the start in Thursday’s game.
1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Martin, CF
8: Zunino, C
9: Sardiñas, SS
I first saw it in a tweet by Jamey Newberg, but all of the M’s beat writers have confirmed it: the Rangers are shifting ex-M’s OF James Jones to the mound. The M’s selecting him as an OF out of Long Island U was somewhat controversial at the time, as many scouts preferred him as a pitcher (he touched the mid-90s as a collegiate pitcher). Best of luck to him. After a dreadful year at the plate in AAA, it seems like his best chance to get back to the bigs.