Game 124, Yankees at Mariners

marc w · August 22, 2016 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Cody Martin vs. Michael Pineda, 7:10pm

The trade was so long ago now, but it still feels weird. You want to move on, but the Jesus Montero career arc won’t let you.

So, the Yankees are in town, with a 63-60 record that leaves them with almost no chance of a playoff spot, and a roster in transition. With guys like Carlos Beltran and Andrew Miller traded away, A-Rod retired, and new RF Aaron Judge now installed, the Yankees are in a transition period, and for once they’re not trying to jumpstart the process by bringing in more veteran guys.

If the Yankees were realistically going to challenge for the AL East this year, the key was going to be their starting pitching. In Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, they’d built one of the most fearsome bullpens in history, but with an aging line-up, they needed their starters to hand the ball off to their reliever cerberus with the Yankees close enough for that late-inning dominance to matter. That didn’t quite happen; though their starting pitching FIP is middle-of-the-pack, their ERA ranks 21st. The big culprit has been HRs, as their K-Bb% is 7th best. Masahiro Tanaka’s been solid, and CC Sabathia has fought the demons of aging and attrition to a draw, but the back of the rotation’s been something of a mess.

Michael Pineda was a pivotal player, in that he was supposed to be a strong #2, bridging the gap between Tanaka and the questionable arms like Nate Eovaldi or Ivan Nova and the youngsters like Luis Severino who started the year in the minors. Fully healthy now, Pineda’s velocity is creeping back to the 95 or so he sat at with Seattle all the way back in 2011, and he’s destroying his previous career high in K%. But like so many of his teammates, the batters who have put the ball in play have hit it really hard. Pineda’s given up 21 HRs on the year, along with 41 doubles-and-triples, meaning he’s surrendered an extra-base hit to 10.6% of all batters he’s faced. That’s absurdly high for someone with his skills and K rate.

Pineda statline yields a bunch of these seeming contradictions. His o-swing rate is at a career high, approaching 40%, showing that he’s fooling batters like never before. His overall swinging strike rate is also up. But his BABIP is .334, almost dead on last year’s mark of .332. In his past 300 IP, Pineda has looked like an absolute ace at times, and like a batting practice guy at others. Over that period, he’s got a K-BB% of 20%, well above average – but batters are slugging over .600 every time they’ve put the ball in play off him, way above the league average, which was .547 in 2016 and .523 in 2015.

When he was coming up in Seattle, a worry was that given his FB/SL repertoire, lefties might be able to hit him, but that’s not what’s happened. In pretty much every year, he’s had very even platoon splits, and that’s still true today: lefties are hitting him better in 2016, but then, so are righties. He’s changed his primary fastball from the four-seamer he had with the M’s to a hard cutter. It’s got similar velocity, but has very little horizontal movement. All told, it’s not a pitch with great results – he’s given up some loud contact on the cutter, and it gets fewer whiffs than his old four-seamer did. That said, it’s more of a ground ball pitch, and that can be important for a guy whose HR/FB is spiraling out of control. Still, I just wonder about the cutter-slider combo; if you’re going to essentially use two pitches – and Pineda throws 50+% cutters and *40+%* sliders – then you’re minimizing the gap between your pitches. You’re taking armside run out of the equation. Given Pineda’s injury issues, if the cutter’s any easier for him to throw, then sure, you use it. But absent that, it just seems like the cutter/slider combo means the hitter can quickly rule out certain zones: if the ball looks like it’s on the inside corner, then you just don’t have to worry about it running in and off the plate. If it looks like it’s off the plate away, you can forget about it perhaps running back over the outside corner.

Cody Martin will make his second start tonight for the M’s. The righty’s velocity’s down a bit from 2015, though that makes some sense, given that he was used out of the pen in the first half of last year. The cutter he developed with Oakland’s still a part of his arsenal, but it looks like he agrees with me on the whole cutter/slider combo deal: he ditched the slider in favor of his curve once he started throwing the cutter. He throws the cutter low and away to righties, so it kind of functions as a hard slider, which further differentiates the pitch from his four-seam, which he throws up in the zone, much the way he did in Atlanta at the start of last year.

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

Big news in the minors today, as the California League announced they’d be contracting two teams, the High Desert Mavericks and the Bakersfield Blaze. That’s the M’s last affiliate and their current affiliate. It sounds like the Carolina League will add a couple of teams, one in Fayetteville and one in Kinston. High Desert’s already clinched a playoff berth and Bakersfield’s close, so they’ll go out with some post-season games, at least. It’s looking likely that the M’s may have a team in the Carolina League for the first time in team history.

Nick Neidert highlights the pitchers starting tonight for M’s affiliates. Last night’s games featured an org sweep, 2 players with 2 HRs (Joe DeCarlo and Kristian Brito), and Jake Brentz extending his scoreless streak since joining Clinton to 7 1/3 IP, with 1 1/3 scoreless in relief of Luiz Gohara.


26 Responses to “Game 124, Yankees at Mariners”

  1. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 6:59 pm

    Please just win! I have to get that sour taste of last nights game out of my mind… I’m gonna lose my sanity if we lose… and yes I do care way to much about sports lol.

  2. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 7:17 pm

    Gonna be one of those kind of nights huh…. cool…

  3. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 7:23 pm

    Are we the top GIDP team or what?

  4. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 7:31 pm

    Hah! I give up…

  5. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 7:41 pm

    If you guys could stop doing that and letting Pineda off the hook that would be great….thanks.

  6. Sowulo on August 22nd, 2016 8:12 pm

    more crap baserunning!

  7. Westside guy on August 22nd, 2016 8:14 pm


  8. WTF_Ms on August 22nd, 2016 8:38 pm

    Yeah, this guy’s working out. There HRs. Time to go.

  9. WTF_Ms on August 22nd, 2016 8:42 pm

    My bad 4 HRs. Left him in a couple of innings too many.

  10. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 8:43 pm

    Awesome pitching tonight Cody! way to keep us in the game… 4 home runs.. how the hell are we above .500 again? jeeze.

  11. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 8:48 pm

    This does not bode well… Houston is on a winning streak and are going to catch fire again, this series could end up being the break point depending on how you look at it, especially this game.

  12. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 9:05 pm

    Gameday is pretty accurate right? because this strike zone is atrocious! my god man!

  13. Sowulo on August 22nd, 2016 9:08 pm

    I like this new Zunino kid. Where did he come from? ;-P

  14. Sowulo on August 22nd, 2016 9:16 pm

    My oh My O’Malley! Great catch!

  15. Westside guy on August 22nd, 2016 9:26 pm

    O’Malley is the new Willie Ballgame.

  16. Westside guy on August 22nd, 2016 10:01 pm

    Oh, I forgot Texiera was still on their team.


  17. Westside guy on August 22nd, 2016 10:04 pm

    Man, I hate balks.

  18. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 10:04 pm

    ugh cmon!!!!!!

  19. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 10:05 pm

    No command still on his fastball, its all over the place damnit!

  20. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2016 10:07 pm

    Thank the baseball gods! we needed that oh man, my adrenaline is thru the roof.

  21. Westside guy on August 22nd, 2016 10:10 pm


    I mean – woo hoo!

  22. Woodcutta on August 23rd, 2016 4:42 am

    So….was Storen’s “availability” in the last game against the Brewers not known before that game? Seems strange to wait a day to put someone on the DL especially with how overworked Diaz has been the last few days/week.

  23. JMB on August 23rd, 2016 9:34 am

    OT: Dodgers trying to “give away” Puig… anyone want to take a chance on him? I think it’s worth the gamble, though maybe after the season as not to upset the current clubhouse.

  24. Grayfox3d on August 23rd, 2016 2:53 pm

    Puig reminds me of a young Cespedes with no personal discipline. The kid can hit (maybe not this season) he’s got a cannon for an arm, just needs a good ass kicking by some tough coaches that are willing to put the time in to help him.
    I’d take a shot at Puig, the benefits could be very high, it feels like a move that Carrol/Schnieder would make if they ran the baseball team.

  25. Notfromboise on August 23rd, 2016 4:41 pm

    We put Aoki in the outfield. Obviously we’d welcome him for his glove and wheels alone, not to mention the chance that he might regress to the mean and start hitting like 2014 Puig.

    But lets be realistic. Teams place value on guys who might be good ‘someday’.. Puig was really good for 2 years at a *major* league level. The Dodgers aren’t looking to give away Puig. It’s going to cost something in return.

    I like to recall the offseason hub-bub about Brett Gardener of the Yanks. We needed a solid corner outfielder. Someone to lead off. Someone worth 13 mil a season. .257/.347/.369 slash, OPS+ of 93 (2nd worst since he started playing everday years ago).. etc.. And thats the guy I thought was the bridge. I was way wrong, as were a few other posters on here.

    Look at Zunino’s resurgence. That could be O Malley and Romero. Or the next guy. Let’s enjoy the expanded September roster and imagine what may soon come. And lets do that instead of lusting after someone another playoff team decided wasn’t worth one of their 25 slots.

    The Dodgers more often than not know what they are doing, and when there is smoke there is fire.

  26. JMB on August 23rd, 2016 8:42 pm

    I was thinking they’re just tired of his antics.

    And to me the ass kicking you speak of would come from Cano, Felix, Cruz, Edgar… teach him how to be a professional.

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