Game 159, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · September 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Kendall Graveman, 7:10pm

Baltimore’s late comeback spoiled a perfectly good opportunity to gain some ground. The Tigers earned a rain-shortened win last night, but their game against Cleveland today was rained out, which introduces an odd possibility: if the Tigers are within a half game of the wildcard at season’s end, they’ll need to make that game up. The Indians, who’ve already won the Central, will need to fly to Detroit and play a game that means nothing to them, except as an annoyance. Instead of a day of rest, they’ll have to go to Detroit. The M’s (or Baltimore’s) fate could be decided by this exceedingly odd high-stakes exhibition game, a play-in game for the play-in game.

Today, the M’s entrust their playoff hopes to Ariel Miranda. The lefty had his best outing recently against Houston, but wasn’t too sharp in Minnesota. He’s been homer-prone of late, with 4 given up in his last 11 innings and 9 in his last 7 starts. That’s tanked his fielding independent stats, but given his walk rate and middling bat-missing skills, Miranda’s never going to be a FIP superstar. If he’s going to make it as a starter, he’s going to have to use his weird arm angles and movement to get soft contact. Thus far, he’s done enough (a .221 BABIP) to resemble a decent 5th starter, but it’s a tough act to maintain. The bit of statcast data on him don’t offer a clear picture, either. His average exit velocity isn’t special, and it’s the product of really high velo on fly balls/line drives (that’d be the HR problem) and very *low* velo on grounders. I love his splitter and would love to think this is skill and not luck, but whatever the case, Miranda doesn’t give up enough grounders for it to matter a whole lot. Still, there’s enough here (he throws two different change-ups!) that you can squint and hope for some development that makes him a valuable back-of-the-rotation guy.

Kendall Graveman seemed like he had an even lower ceiling than Miranda, an unexceptional sinkerballer with HR issues of his own, and that’s without even getting into the fact that he must remind A’s fans of the worst trade in recent franchise history. Yet he’s now mostly through his second straight year of giving up a lot fewer runs than you’d think by watching (or, again, from his FIP). Unlike with Miranda, there’s been no BABIP luck/wizardry, and he doesn’t seem all that adept at pitching with men on. Somehow, he’s just made his sinker/cutter arsenal work, and fired just shy of 300 perfectly adequate innings for the A’s. One thing that may have helped him this year is that he’s added about 2mph to his fastball. It’s still not a swing-and-miss pitch, but it may help him get grounders and, even better, weak grounders. His exit velocity profile looks just about identical to Miranda’s in 2016, but with a key difference: Graveman’s a ground ball pitcher, so he’s got below average exit speeds on the type of contact he gives up the most.

The M’s as a team fare a bit worse against groundballers like Graveman. I say “like Graveman” because Graveman himself doesn’t seem to benefit. He’s given up 36 hits in 21 2/3 IP against the M’s. He’s got normal platoon splits, so this’d be a great day for another Cano HR or more of this strange, late-season surge from Nori Aoki. Aoki’d been remarkably, freakishly consistent in recent years, which made his collapse in the first half more surprising. With this extended hot streak, he’s actually pulled his season line up to the point where it looks like a normal Nori Aoki season, maybe with a touch of age-related decline. Like so many things (among them: the M’s entrusting their playoff hopes to Ariel Miranda), if you’d told me that in June, I would’ve thought you were crazy.

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: Miranda

Go M’s.


19 Responses to “Game 159, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. Mid80sRighty on September 29th, 2016 4:15 pm

    If you told me the M’s would be in the thick of the playoff picture in the last week of the season, in June, I would have thought you were Crazy

  2. WTF_Ms on September 29th, 2016 4:23 pm

    The next (last) 4 games are ALL must win…no question about it! Go M’s!

  3. Soda Popinski on September 29th, 2016 4:26 pm

    Mariners in the thick of the playoff picture? Hardly. Detroit getting rained out today is a huge blow to the M’s. Cleveland will even be resting their AAA players if they have to play a make-up game on Monday.

    1 in 20 chance that we see any playoff baseball played at Safeco Field in 2016. Oh well. At least Ichiro comes to town next year, and we still have great memories of 1995! Get your season ticket deposits in for 2017 NOW!

  4. Mid80sRighty on September 29th, 2016 4:32 pm

    Uh, I would consider being 2 games back with 4 to go in the thick of it. Regardless, I think you missed my point….

    Either way, this has been a great season. It’s nice having a fun team to watch again.

  5. Notfromboise on September 29th, 2016 4:39 pm

    If I’m the Tigers. I’m giving out about 20 intentional walks to Freddie Freeman this weekend.

  6. WTF_Ms on September 29th, 2016 4:42 pm

    Cleveland will field the “September Call-up” team for ANY game from now on….BUT, BUT, they may just get lucky!

    I agree with Righty, It’s kinda cool to be this close, this late. Maybe we can avoid the injuries to the bullpen, and an 8 game losing streak next year?

  7. Soda Popinski on September 29th, 2016 4:46 pm

    I’d consider being 2 games back of one team, with another team 1 game up on us (and playing the worst team in baseball this weekend,) giving us about a 5% chance to make the the Division Series. Not very thick to me.

    Our playoff odds were better in March, April, May, July, August, and earlier in September. (June gets left out there.) I’m a season ticket holder since 2006. I do not consider this a successful season.

    But hey, Go M’s.

  8. Grayfox3d on September 29th, 2016 5:13 pm

    For being Mariners fans, some of your expectations of a “successful” season are just too damn high. This team has been bad for how long?…. and we finally have a decent looking winning season and your claiming it’s not good enough for you? Wow…. maybe you should go to a more “successful” team, maybe one of the 20 teams that has a worse record than us.

    Need to get the Seahawks success out of your mind when you think about the Mariners. Be happy with a season finishing above .500 considering all the changes this season.

  9. WTF_Ms on September 29th, 2016 5:53 pm

    Anything above 80 wins is successful IMO.

  10. mrakbaseball on September 29th, 2016 7:07 pm

    Not to attack anybody here, but I’m surprised about how low some people’s standards are. Anything above 80 wins is successful? Do people need to be reminded that the Mariners have the longest playoff drought in baseball? Have some pride.

  11. WTF_Ms on September 29th, 2016 8:41 pm

    We like our team, they just suck. Winning isn’t a top priority of ownership, so we’ll be mediocre until we get lucky. Probably not soon.

  12. eponymous coward on September 29th, 2016 9:02 pm

    It’s looking pretty probable that it will take 90 wins to make the playoffs.

    You know how many teams have turned around from 74-88 to 90 wins in one year? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not that many. So the M’s have actually done pretty well getting as far as they have. It’s not an A+ effort, but it’s a solid B; did no violence to the farm system, didn’t take on any new stupid contracts, didn’t sell out for a pennant race.

    Now, you know how many teams have turned around from 74-88 to 90 wins WITHOUT performance improvements from young players? It’s an even smaller number. It’s pushing it to call Seager a young player; he’s right in his prime years. Usually “big leaps forward” come when you get good young players. The M’s haven’t gotten that. Paxton and Walker are still getting there.

    So yeah, I think being pleased at how this has gone is fine. We’ve gone from organizational dumpster fire to the verge of contention. Now it gets harder, but I have a lot more confidence in this GM to handle the curve.

  13. WTF_Ms on September 29th, 2016 9:38 pm

    E-coward, couldn’t agree more. I think JP has done a decent job of duct taping things together this year. We will see what’s done in the off season.

  14. Westside guy on September 29th, 2016 9:50 pm

    I agree this season has been an acceptable improvement over last year.

    … But I’ll definitely be bummed if they don’t make the playoffs, even though the odds are already against them. Don’t expect too much rationality from a baseball fan – even a sabermetrically-inclined one. 😀

  15. eponymous coward on September 29th, 2016 9:57 pm

    Yikes. Diaz is not exactly inspiring confidence these days, is he?

  16. WTF_Ms on September 29th, 2016 10:03 pm

    The story of this season. Making things harder than they need to be.

  17. Westside guy on September 29th, 2016 10:04 pm

    Come ON, Diaz…

    There you go!

  18. Westside guy on September 29th, 2016 10:06 pm

    Woo Hoo! Thank goodness!

  19. californiamariner on September 29th, 2016 10:07 pm

    While I know the playoff odds aren’t great, I’m going to enjoy and hope for as long as I can. 17 of the 30 teams are mathematically eliminated and the Mariners are not and if you gave me that deal before every season I would take it.

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