Game 156, Mariners at Astros

marc w · September 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Collin McHugh, 5:10pm

The M’s enter the final week of 2016 with a shot at the playoffs. That’s an unalloyed good thing, but to win they need to be nearly flawless AND get a lot of help. They’re long shots, and to give themselves any chance at all, they’re going to need to figure out Collin McHugh. The righty’s made 4 starts against Seattle, and won all 4, yielding 16 hits and 8 walks in 25 IP, with 24Ks; he’s given up a grand total of 3 runs to them. The M’s are hitting just .186/.263/.279 against him, while the rest of the league is hitting .306/.346/.457. The M’s inability to hit one of the league’s more hittable pitchers has been both bizarre and, as we’ve seen down the stretch, incredibly important.

In recent games, McHugh’s been much tougher, with three straight solid outings against the M’s, Cubs and A’s. He’s only really had one clunker in the past month – a forgettable start against Texas immediately on September 4th. In the past month or so, he’s been using his four-seam fastball a bit more, but it’s been pretty subtle. He used it even more against the M’s, and that’s something to look for tonight – the degree to which he goes after the M’s with elevated fastballs. He’d all but scrapped his change-up, but brought it out of storage against Mariners like Robbie Cano back in Seattle; we’ll see if he does that again, or just sticks with his curve and cutter. The curve in particular’s been good of late, and he’s using it a bit more too. Throughout the year, he’s had decent results with both of his breaking balls, but he’s also allowed a lot of HRs – like so many pitchers this year, his mistakes have been punished much more severely than in the past.

I’ve always thought of Houston as a launching pad, particularly with the short porch in LF. It’s obviously cavernous to center, but it’s a park that can reward contact that isn’t quite perfect, particularly down the lines. Of the 161 HRs hit there, 54 haven’t been ‘barreled’, the 2nd highest percentage in the league. But it’s also giving up fewer HRs on contact that IS perfectly struck. In this sense, Houston’s like the anti-Safeco: Safeco was always a smothering pitcher’s park especially for fly balls, but it’s now seeing a flurry of HRs. Houston always allowed HRs, but it’s now playing like a solid pitcher’s park overall. Baseball-Reference’s park factor for it this year is a stingy 94. While Statcast still shows that it inflates HRs, it also reduces run scoring. Both Astros hitters and pitchers have large splits; the pitchers’ OPS against is *127 points worse* on the road, and their ERA is a full 1.50 runs better at home, while the batters have an OPS that’s 46 points better away from Houston.

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: Marte, SS
SP: Iwakuma

So many great articles and tidbits in the outpouring of grief following Jose Fernandez’s death yesterday. Dave Cameron’s article at Fangraphs was great and includes some amazing links. Here’s one of them:

Be happy

Fernandez’s Reaction to Stanton HR

For scoreboard watchers, the Blue Jays host the Yankees, with JA Happ facing off with Luis Severino. The Yankees clean-up hitter is the actual Billy Butler.
Cleveland heads to Detroit, where the match-up’s a bit better for M’s fans: Corey Kluber takes the hill opposite Buck Farmer.


16 Responses to “Game 156, Mariners at Astros”

  1. msfanmike on September 26th, 2016 5:39 pm

    Hey, new format. I like it.

    Same SS and LF … I like that a lot less.

  2. mrakbaseball on September 26th, 2016 6:00 pm

    Sounds like Dipoto wants Aoki back next season.

  3. WTF_Ms on September 26th, 2016 8:12 pm

    Argh! I hates me some Altuve. What a pest.

  4. Grayfox3d on September 26th, 2016 8:14 pm

    What the actual F!!! well, this loss will all but guarantee the end, barring some miracle from god.

  5. WTF_Ms on September 26th, 2016 8:16 pm

    Our bullpen is messing it up at exactly the wrong time.

  6. WTF_Ms on September 26th, 2016 8:25 pm

    We suck. How are we this close to the playoffs? That was a horrible at bat by Seager.

  7. Milendriel on September 26th, 2016 8:29 pm

    Add Zunino to the list of terrible at-bats. That first pitch slider was incredibly flat and he just watched it go by.

  8. WTF_Ms on September 26th, 2016 8:30 pm

    It’s a collective “we”. 1-9 looks lost.

  9. californiamariner on September 26th, 2016 9:04 pm

    Whew.. that’s a game it feels like they always lose. Boy that was so fun from Cano tonight

  10. JMB on September 26th, 2016 9:06 pm


  11. eponymous coward on September 26th, 2016 9:19 pm

    1-9 looks lost.

    Yeah, that Cano guy really sucks. We should cut his ass.

  12. JMB on September 26th, 2016 9:49 pm

    ^ this.

  13. Notfromboise on September 26th, 2016 10:08 pm

    Game ball goes to Vincent. I know Gattis is essentially the love child of Rob Deer and Dave Kingman, but with the season on the line… two on, one out.. and he just made Gattis look silly on all 4 pitches… It looked like Gattis was starting his swing when the ball was already in the catcher’s mitt.

    Two back with 6 to play. But for the first time in a while we are on top of the Tigers/Astros/ Royals/Yanks, etc.

  14. MrZDevotee on September 26th, 2016 11:50 pm

    Can’t believe we pulled that out… There’s hope. Toronto faces off against Baltimore for 3 games starting tomorrow…

    So one of those two teams is gonna lose at LEAST 2 games… Or a sweep would be beautiful at this point…

    We need Felix to beat the Astros tomorrow, which would pretty much eliminate Houston (making a sweep possible Wednesday morning), and then do some damage in the last 4 against the A’s…

    This could come down to the weekend…

  15. djw on September 27th, 2016 1:57 pm

    Sounds like Dipoto wants Aoki back next season.

    Did he say something to that effect?

    If you’re talking about his option vesting, I don’t see it. He’d need an average of 5.67 PAs in the last six games, a number he’s not likely to reach that number, even if he leads off and finishes each of the remaining games. Even one day off would make it almost certainly unattainable.

  16. Alec on September 27th, 2016 2:12 pm

    Yes, he did:

    It’s not any kind of official confirmation, but it’s a vote of confidence and an indication that there’s something from Aoki that he likes. Like most of these things though, it will come down to dollars.

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