Still More Cactuses: M’s at Rangers
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Tyler Wagner, 12:10pm
Good to see Iwakuma take the mound, as he’s going to be critical to the M’s playoff chances this year. After an injury-plagued 2015 and his worst MLB season last year, Iwakuma’s kind of at a crossroads. If he bounces back to his career averages, he gives the M’s an excellent mid-rotation starter and allows the M’s starting pitching depth to be deployed to back up Yovani Gallardo or whoever gets hurt. If Iwakuma’s ineffective or hurt AND Gallardo struggles, the M’s are in trouble. He’ll turn 36 shortly and his X-rays looked scary enough that he’s had two contract offers rescinded, but it’s impossible not to root for the guy. A mild rebound – which is essentially what the projections systems have him down for – is a huge help: a slightly above-average starter who’s durable enough to soak up a lot of innings.
Texas starter Tyler Wagner’s bounced between the Brewers, D-Backs and now Rangers in his brief career. He moved from Milwaukee to Arizona alongside new M’s shortstop Jean Segura actually, in a package for Chase Anderson/Aaron Hill/SS prospect Isan Diaz a bit more than a year ago. If you’ve been reading the minor league recaps, you’ll recall I’ve actually mentioned Wagner a few times – which is strange for a low-round draft pick without much in the way of raw stuff. Still, Wagner opened enough eyes in AA in 2015 that he got a cup of coffee with the big club, and he was seen as polished enough to be a part of a big trade just before the 2016 system. Back in 2015, I called him a sinkerballer, but BrooksBaseball calls his fastball a four-seamer…albeit one that has a lot of sink. He throws a slurve at 79 that’s got a fair amount of spin, and he’s had some success with a straight change that doesn’t look like it should be effective, but has been thus far. An interesting pitch for him is a hard cutter – it’s thrown at 90mph, essentially as fast as his four-seam FB, which averages 90-91. The cutter has similar vertical movement, but half a foot or more less armside run. It looks and acts like a fastball, so Wagner uses it accordingly: in his very brief MLB career, he’s thrown about 35% four-seamers and 30% cutters. He’s not a big strikeout guy at all, and his minor league walk rates aren’t anything special, so if he’s going to succeed, it’s going to be by keeping the ball on the ground.
1: Dyson, CF
2: Segura, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Haniger, RF
8: Gosewisch, C
9: Powell, LF
Should get a look at more of the NRI relievers the M’s picked up this offseason, like Christian Bergman and Ryan Weber, today.
Sounds like Andrew Moore and Chase de Jong will pitch in a split-squad game on Sunday vs. the Dodgers. Moore gets the start in that one, while Felix starts the other game. That one’s important because it’ll be the first M’s game to get televised. It’ll be on Root Sports.