Cactus League Game 6: Brewers at Mariners

marc w · March 2, 2017 at 11:30 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Matt Garza, 12:10pm

Lefty Ariel Miranda was sharp in the M’s first game of the spring, but the list of guys he’s competing with keeps growing. The arrival of Chase de Jong (who may play in a split squad game this weekend) means the M’s now have even more options for rotation depth. Of course, most of those options are right handed, so Miranda’s got an edge, but even that’s a double-edged sword. Given the M’s interest in having lefty options in the pen, Miranda might get more of a look as a swingman/lefty reliever.

The M’s face the suddenly intriguing Milwaukee Brewers, who’ve been remaking their team quickly and effectively over the past year under new GM David Stearns. Today they’ll face long-time right-handed dude bro Matt Garza, who’s struggled mightily over the past two seasons with the Brewers. At his peak, he was successful against righties and lefties alike, with a curve and slider that were equal-opportunity weapons. Ultimately, though, his success was predicated on fastball command, as his four-seam and sinker mix drove his production. In 2014, his sinker in particular was difficult to elevate, and he was great (when healthy). Since then, though, his fastball’s been hit harder, and his breaking balls have been less effective against…righties.

A slight downturn in results by various pitch types is normal for a pitcher who’s now 33 years old, and his fastball results still haven’t been THAT bad. Instead, what’s killed him recently is an absolutely abysmal strand rate. Even in 2014, was devilishly low at 66.6%, and it’s only dropped further since. He finished 2016 with a 63.3% mark, which ranked 139th out of 142 pitchers to throw 100 IP. Of the 132 pitchers who’ve thrown at least 300 IP since 2014, Garza’s 65.3% average ranks dead last.

1: Dyson, CF
2: Segura, SS
3: Vogelbach, 1B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Haniger, DH
6: Ruiz, C
7: Motter, 3B
8: O’Neill, LF
9: O’Malley, 2B
SP: Miranda

The M’s will soon see an exodus from training camp, as Jean Segura will join Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz on the Dominican World Baseball Classic roster, while Tyler O’Neill will suit up for Team Canada and King Felix for Venezuela. In all, 12 players have some sort of commitment to the WBC, with Drew Smyly joining Team USA in the 2nd round. The complete list is here. Of the M’s top 10 projected players by WAR, 6 (Felix, Segura, Cano, Cruz, Smyly and Edwin Diaz) will play in the WBC.

The Brewers line up features ex-Mariner and ex-Korean League MVP Eric Thames, who’s trying to prove his utter destruction of the KBO wasn’t a fluke. His signing was a great, low-risk, potentially high-reward move by the Brewers. Today’s starters also include top prospects Lewis Brinson and Oswaldo Arcia, along with Brett Phillips. Phillips was a rising star in the Astros system before moving over with Josh Hader in the Carlos Gomez deal (man, did THAT work out for Milwaukee). He had a great pure hit tool, with K rates solidly under 20% up the chain for Houston, but starting striking out a ton as soon as he got to the Brewers. After a down year last year (ameliorated a bit by a great walk rate), he’s looking to prove he’s still a candidate for a promotion this year.


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