Game 123, Brewers at Mariners
Ariel Miranda vs. Matt Garza, 1:10pm
The M’s closed to within a game of the 2nd wild card by beating the hapless Brewers yesterday, and they go for a sweep today behind Ariel Miranda. I mentioned before that Miranda reminds me of ex-Mariner lefty Roenis Elias, but the parallels are adding up. Elias may have more swing and miss in his game (though neither are ever going to be high K pitchers), but they have two of the *least* consistent release points in the game. With the M’s, Elias was famous for having very different release points for righties and lefties, and then he’d alter it more when facing left-handed bats:
Miranda doesn’t do that, but his release point varies by nearly *two feet* from pitch to pitch. This probably makes some pitching coaches cringe, but if a pitcher can command it, it’d give each of his pitches a very different look. When the M’s acquired him, I noted that he had really odd movement on his fastball, with the high vertical movement that you might get throwing straight over the top, and the high horizontal movement you’d get throwing low 3/4. I don’t think Miranda’s altering his *vertical* release point all that much, but changing his position on the rubber and changing his horizontal release point might give him different angles on his fastball and may make it tougher to hit.
Here’s Miranda’s release points in his last start – note the smear of pitches stretching from right about 0 all the way to 2′.
At least, that’s the theory. It’s too soon to say much, but he hasn’t shown an ability to limit BABIP, walks or hard contact. Given his raw stuff, I’m not sure Miranda will ever be more than a back of the rotation starter (like Elias), but I kind of like that there’s something odd about his game. It’s just kind of strange that the M’s sent Elias away, seemingly as a throw in, and then found someone similar on another team’s scrap heap.
Soooo, Felix. Last night’s game provides the best evidence both that Felix is back to being a top of the rotation starter, and that Felix’s ability to make adjustments is still just about unparalleled. Every time he hits a rough patch, and to be honest, they’re coming more frequently now, he’s able to snap out of it. He’s at an age where it’s not enough to assume it’s regression (although that’s certainly playing a part, too); he’s got to do something differently. In his last few games, he’s actually striking people out – something he wasn’t doing before his injury – and he’s throwing his change a lot more. In addition, the change is moving a bit differently than it did earlier, with a bit less sinker-like run. A good version of Felix makes me much, much more optimistic about this playoff chase.
1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Iannetta, C
8: Martin, CF
9: Marte, SS