Game 132, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · August 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Cole Hamels, 5:05pm

The M’s have now lost 6 of 7, and everyone wants to know why. Nathan Bishop’s article at LL notes that the M’s have struggled because they’ve ran into some really good opposing starters, all bunched together – a string that continues tonight, with Cole Hamels on the hill. Greg Johns of refines this by noting that the M’s are really struggling against left-handed starters; it’s not just that the M’s have run into a string of top starters, it’s that the majority of them have been southpaws, and for whatever reason, the M’s just don’t do very well against such pitchers.

After reading Johns’ article, I looked at the batting splits at BBREF, and if anything, it’s even worse than Johns thought. The M’s line-up has been much worse against lefty starters than either righty starters or lefties in general. While Robbie Cano, Nelson Cruz, Franklin Gutierrez and even Kyle Seager have been solid or better against lefty starters, the drop off from there is severe. Chris Iannetta, Adam Lind-and-Dae Ho Lee, Leonys Martin, Guillermo Heredia and especially Norichika Aoko have all been varying shades of disastrous, and that’s been a big factor in the fact that the M’s are now 20-29 in games started by an opposing southpaw. Lind and Seth Smith were never supposed to *play* in these situations, and guys like Leonys Martin had so many question marks, the fact that we’re only talking about very specific platoon splits is encouraging in itself. But Iannetta (and Zunino too, by the way) and Ketel Marte needed to be better. Marte and Martin are up-the-middle defenders, and that means it’s much harder to think about platoons, so the bat-first platoon guys really needed to step up.

The other factor that I’d bring up to explain the M’s sudden slide is the bullpen. This is all really obvious and hardly needs stating, but here we go: the M’s bullpen was never as good as the group that looked unhittable in early August, and they’re not as bad as the group that’s given up 8 HRs in their last 41 IP. This is what happens when you build a bullpen out of high-K, high-HR hurlers, which seems to have been the plan all along. Because Ks are relatively frequent and HRs are relatively infrequent, they’ll have strings of games where they strike out errybody and keep the ball in the park, and look amazing. Then, some of those balls in play go over the fence, and you get a flurry of gut-punches. The back of the pen is now as good as it’s been in years thanks to Edwin Diaz, but the middle of it goes as Vidal Nuno or Nick Vincent or Tom Wilhelmsen, three of the more predictably volatile relievers you’ll find.

Cole Hamels is putting together another good year for Texas, with a sub-3 ERA despite a merely ‘good’ FIP. Hamels is walking a few more batters, but he’s still a tough match-up for right-handers thanks to his excellent change. That said, he’s been throwing more of his cutter in recent years, and that’s pushed his platoon splits more in the ‘normal’ direction after years of running slightly reversed splits. I’m hoping he’s still atypical enough that the M’s bats that have scuffled against lefties might have a chance, but 1) he’s a very good pitcher and 2) commanding his cutter has made him tougher on left-handed bats like Martin and Cano. We’ll see. His change is still a weapon, but he’s prone to mistakes with it. Righties have a low batting average against the pitch, but they’ve always connected for a fair number of HRs. Just like the M’s reliever corps, he may get some Ks against this M’s line-up, but a HR or two will really change the game.

1: O’Malley, RF
2: Marte, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Gutierrez, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lee, 1B
7: Martin, CF
8: Zunino, C
9: Heredia, LF
SP: Paxton

That’s an…that’s not a great line-up. Nelson Cruz is out with an injured hand, which leads to O’Malley starting at corner OF against Cole Hamels. Marte batting 2nd? I have no idea.

Tyler O’Neill headlines three Jackson Generals named to the Southern League All Star team – the others are Ryan Yarbrough and 2B Tim Lopes. O’Neill’s in the running for league MVP, an award that’ll be announced tomorrow.

The Arizona League playoffs kick off tonight, and the AZL M’s are playing in the league’s first round – the top 2 teams in the league have first-round byes. The team’s lead by CF Anthony Jimenes, 3B Joe Rizzo and SS Christopher Torres.

After losing last night, the Rainiers turn to Sam Gaviglio to beat Fresno and keep the M’s on track to win the PCL north. The game’s at Cheney, so head over if you’re in town.

Jackson’s on a losing skid, punctuated by yesterday’s double header sweep at the hands of the Biloxi Shuckers. Paul Blackburn takes the mound for the Generals as they look to hit the playoffs on a winning streak.

Tyler Pike leads Bakersfield against the San Jose Giants.


25 Responses to “Game 132, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. WTF_Ms on August 30th, 2016 5:31 pm

    I hate that odor….er….Odor. Why can’t we get a player like that??? I remember once, when the M’s tried to get “that” player…Chone something or other???

  2. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2016 5:35 pm

    2nd inning.. and that will just about wrap up this game lol.

  3. WTF_Ms on August 30th, 2016 5:38 pm

    Lol! Grayfox3d….This is a pretty standard start for the M’s this year. I turn the game on, and wonder how many runs they give up in the first 2 innings. Hopefully, the bats show up tonight…but I ain’t holding my breath!

  4. mrakbaseball on August 30th, 2016 5:50 pm

    Paxton injured once again…

  5. Notfromboise on August 30th, 2016 6:25 pm

    I’m the eternal optimist. We got Cole almost 70 pitches in through 4 innings and we halved the deficit without hitting the ball out of the infield after loading the bases with one out.

    On a side note, Odor baserunning escapades might come back to bite Texas.

    I’d love to see Paxton right the ship and at least get through 5 innings here.

  6. JMB on August 30th, 2016 7:19 pm

    Apparently we’re leading.

  7. Notfromboise on August 30th, 2016 7:38 pm

    Hey i called my shot. Somehow everyone in the lineup has a hit or a rbi besides Heredia and they drove Hamels out of there in the 5th..

    Had to hurry up and brag before Cishek burns everything down

  8. WTF_Ms on August 30th, 2016 7:44 pm

    Since Cishek started falling apart early, he’s given up runs like dum-dums in a barber shop.

  9. Westside guy on August 30th, 2016 8:25 pm

    Beltre is still really, really good.

  10. Westside guy on August 30th, 2016 8:32 pm


  11. Grayfox3d on August 30th, 2016 8:33 pm

    Oh look at that! we lost again! what a suprise.

  12. JMB on August 30th, 2016 8:46 pm

    So this is how the 2016 season dies, to thunderous applause.

  13. Notfromboise on August 30th, 2016 9:23 pm

    No lie, this one was kinda like getting pushed to the ground and then kicked in the nuts.

    Just mean spirited and uncalled for.

    On a side note, Odor managed to get himself tossed off the bases twice. He’s should be considered an honorary Mariner.

  14. LongDistance on August 31st, 2016 1:32 am

    Speaking of odors. Earlier in the season, there were periodic spurts of true gas. It’s hard now to expect how September can offer more than just whiffs of fumes. Although it looks like we’re going to experience quite a bit of Tacoma new car smell, or at least reconditioned, and is hopefully more than just Forest Fresh Magic Tree.

  15. Grayfox3d on August 31st, 2016 1:59 pm

    When it rains it pours…..

  16. Westside guy on August 31st, 2016 4:22 pm

    Darn it Grayfox, if you hadn’t of posted we could’ve pretended today’s game (#133) never happened. 😀

  17. WTF_Ms on August 31st, 2016 4:24 pm

    Should they shut Felix down for the year? Is 6.5 games too big? Lots of questions!

  18. mrakbaseball on August 31st, 2016 4:29 pm

    I don’t know, I was under the impression that the Mariners are paying a player $175 million to pitch, no?

  19. WTF_Ms on August 31st, 2016 6:14 pm

    Well, I’d rather pay a lot to pitch for longer, than have him collecting a paycheck while on the long term disabled list. Same with Paxton. He’s fragile, and should maybe be limited in innings. Toss in the towel, and let the youngn’s take the mound. They can’t do much worse than the rest.

  20. Westside guy on August 31st, 2016 6:30 pm

    “Is 6.5 games too big?”

    When you combine being that many games behind with the fact there are six teams ahead of them in the standings… yeah, I’d say that’s too big a gap to reasonably expect to close.

  21. Westside guy on August 31st, 2016 7:12 pm

    Not to mention that they’d have to, you know, WIN A FLIPPING GAME.

  22. JMB on August 31st, 2016 9:15 pm

    Westside, what is this “win” of which you speak?

  23. Notfromboise on August 31st, 2016 10:19 pm

    Actually it would be a major loss to shut Felix down from management’s standpoint. Waving a white flag shouting ‘We are not competitive” really isn’t the vibe you want to send to your franchise cornerstone *any* earlier in the season than you have to.

    Potential Season Ticket sales losses probably factor in, too. Players are competitive, and no one on that side of 30 wants to be sitting in September until all is *truly* lost.

  24. eponymous coward on September 1st, 2016 1:11 am

    Should they shut Felix down for the year?

    If he’s not injured, why would you do that? Shutting him down for the year while uninjured isn’t going to take a year off his age next year. It hurts his career stats and chances to get into the Hall of Fame. It hurts the team’s chances at winning ballgames in 2016, which even if they don’t make the playoffs, winning 85 games is better than winning 75.

    So why would you do this?

    You know, these are actual human beings we’re talking about here, not just pitching machines we bought for $175 million.

  25. Mid80sRighty on September 1st, 2016 6:24 am

    Taking it back to Paxton. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s traded this offseason. Dipoto understands the value of durability and he’s now seen first hand how “un-valuable” Paxton is.

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