Game 19, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · April 22, 2017 at 10:51 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Jharel Cotton, 1:05pm

The M’s are now 1-8 on the road, and in serious danger of a sweep in their current series in Oakland. After James Paxton’s unexpectedly poor start, the M’s got a remarkably encouraging game from Hisashi Iwakuma, but it still wasn’t enough. Now, they’ll face intriguing young change-up maven Jharel Cotton, and have to hope that their struggling bats can get their timing back against a pitcher adept at messing with it.

Last season, Cotton made 5 very encouraging starts for the go-nowhere A’s. He flew through the Dodger system, and continued after a trade brought him north to Oakland. His K rate wasn’t otherworldly, but he limited walks and thanks to a slow, screwball like change-up, got a lot of weak contact on pitches out of the strikezone. He seemed poise to build on that debut in 2017, but instead, the A’s seem to be pushing him to throw less of his fantastic change and more sinkers/cutters. A’s gonna A.

Throwing from a fairly high arm slot, Cotton’s four-seam had solid rise, and averaged about 93 MPH. It seemed to be a good pairing for his splitter-style change that came in at 77 or so. But as they’ve done with so many pitchers, the A’s seem to have called for a big change in pitch mix. He’s throwing more of what BrooksBaseball calls a sinker this year, and while it has surprisingly similar movement to his four-seam, it gets less rise (as you’d expect), meaning it’s more similar to the change. And as for the change, it’s now a clear 3rd or 4th pitch, and in its place is the typically-Oakland cutter. Cotton’s is 89 MPH, and has different vertical break from his four-seam, but can almost function like a hard change. It looked like a good pitch last year, and I’m not suggesting it’s bad, but it just seems like an odd choice to use in the place of Cotton’s best pitch.

Maybe it’s all the changes to his mix, or maybe it’s just small sample nothingness, but Cotton’s getting fewer swings out of the zone (compare this view of 2016 to this one from 2017), so he’s got essentially no chance to repeat his BABIP success of 2016. That’s meant he’s walked a lot more batters than he did last year; if the M’s can be patient, they may draw some walks.

So, Hisashi Iwakuma. When I heard Chase de Jong was coming up, my first thought was that Iwakuma was heading to the DL. Instead, he uncorked a couple of 90 MPH fastballs last night, something I would’ve bet plenty of money he was no longer capable of doing. In terms of velocity and stuff, he looked more like the Iwakuma of old…or at least, the Iwakuma of 2015-16. His command still isn’t right, and he really struggled to throw his fastballs for strikes. He’s throwing way more sliders, and it looks like he might have more control of that pitch than his fastballs, but whatever the issue, he can’t continue to give up so many free passes. He’s walked 10 and hit a batter this year, and struck out just 9. His FIP is nearly 7 and a half, so it’s to Iwakuma’s credit that he’s been as effective as he has, and hopefully he can build off of this game and move forward.

1: Dyson, CF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Motter, SS
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Heredia, LF
8: Freeman, 3B
9: Zunino, C
SP: Miranda

Mike Freeman gives Kyle Seager a day off today, and Jarros Dyson stays in CF, extending Leonys Martin’s break.

Tacoma got another comeback win in El Paso, thanks to another grand slam. Dan Vogelbach hit one on Thursday, and yesterday it was Zach Shank’s turn. That punctuated a 5-run 4th, and turned a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 lead they’d never give up – the final score was 11-8, as both bullpens had some issues in the 8th/9th. Shank only batted because Gordon Beckham was hit on the arm by a pitch, but he homered and walked twice. DJ Peterson also homered and Boog Powell walked three times. Steve Cishek got the start and worked 2/3 of an IP before hitting his pitch count. He walked 2 and give up a hit before yielding to Brett Ash who was called up from AA. Today, Christian Bergman gets the start today.

Arkansas beat Springfield 5-3, as 4 Travelers notched 2 hits each. Jean Segura wasn’t among them, as he went 0-3 with a walk out of the lead-off spot (and DH’ing). The Travs got to Dakota Hudson, scoring all 5 runs off the first-round pick in the first 5 innings. Ryan Horstman got the win in relief, pitching the 5th and 6th IP, giving up 1 run, but striking out 5. Today, it’ll be Lindsey Caughel against Matt Pearce of the Cardinals.

Modesto and Visalia were locked in a pitcher’s duel last night, until the Nuts tired of that and scored 7 runs in the 6th. Nathan Bannister was the pitcher who benefited from this bounty, getting his first pro win. He went 5 IP with 7 Ks and no walks. Joey Curletta had 3 XBH, and Gianfranco Wawoe and Eric Filia both added three hits of their own. Nick Neidert starts today against Trevor Simms, who used to kick off for the Tulane football team.

Clinton lost 3-1 to Quad Cities, as Nick Wells gave up 2 HRs in 5 solid innings. The offense obviously never got much going, striking out 10 times and drawing just a single walk. Ljay Newsome starts today against someone with the striking name of Enoli Paredes.


20 Responses to “Game 19, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. Edward Baker on April 22nd, 2017 11:39 am

    As baseball names go, Enoli Paredes is pretty good. The greatest of the great names, of course, is the venerable Sig Jakucki of St. Louis Browns fame (hey, they won a pennant in 1944 with Sig pitching). Leafing through the 1977 edition of the Baseball Encyclopedia the other night I came across a guy who played a little infield for the Phillies in the late 40s and early 50s, Putsy Caballero. Great name, sensational oxymoron!

  2. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 1:25 pm

    Healy is a big strapping lad.

  3. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 1:27 pm

    One-ninth of the way through the season (7-11) and all is not well.

    They need to find a way to win this game today.

  4. mrakbaseball on April 22nd, 2017 1:34 pm

    Miranda past the 30 pitch mark in the first.

  5. Westside guy on April 22nd, 2017 1:55 pm

    Dyson may be a good center fielder and baserunner, but his fans and vacuum cleaners are way overpriced.

  6. Westside guy on April 22nd, 2017 1:58 pm

    Okay, a good center fielder anyway. 😀

  7. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 2:01 pm

    Hang in there Westy, that joke has not yet lost its “suction.”

  8. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 2:06 pm

    Good AB by Motter – that’s the good news.
    Valencia now needs a hit.

    Let’s see if his suction continues.

  9. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 2:09 pm

    That was an unfortunately quick answer. Man does he ever stink.

    Two backup catchers, a defense only 1B and a CF who can’t hit his own ass with both hands. Hopefully changes come quickly. The overly rested Martin may be the first/best sign that some changes are coming.

  10. Westside guy on April 22nd, 2017 2:11 pm

    oh man, that response may have been worse than my joke…

  11. Westside guy on April 22nd, 2017 2:12 pm

    I gotta wonder how much longer Valencia has the starting job – I hope you’re right, Mike.

  12. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 2:25 pm

    The teams plan was thwarted by Vogelbach just not yet being ready and the “stop gap” has been hapless, but he’s not the only hole in the lineup.

  13. WTF_Ms on April 22nd, 2017 3:31 pm

    This game is looking like the entire line-up is a hole.

  14. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 3:41 pm

    I hope Seager (as bad as he’s been so far this season) is getting ready to hit for Freeman or Valencia and go into the game.

  15. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 3:46 pm

    Atta baby Kyle!

  16. Westside guy on April 22nd, 2017 3:50 pm

    It seems as if Seager has gotten off to a better start than was the case in most past seasons.

  17. Westside guy on April 22nd, 2017 4:17 pm

    Shoot, I may be watching sooner than expected…

  18. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 5:00 pm

    Westy, are you saying that Seager has had slightly less “suck” than he has in past April’s?

    I think you are, man … I think you must – in light of today’s thread theme.

    This team, however … be in some serious need of Dr. Scholls gellin’

  19. msfanmike on April 22nd, 2017 5:31 pm

    I think the A’s are going to enjoy Yovani Gallardo tomorrow – a lot more than we will. No, not a euphemism.

    Baseball is weird enough for our stud #5 starter (#8 on any respectable staff) to break the losing streak tomorrow …. ha … no, hahahaha! I couldn’t write it without laughing at myself.

    Hahahahafreakinghagaha! Sure … Gallardo. Hahahahahaha!

    Tomorrow should be a good day to dig some holes for fenceposts. Again, not a euphemism.

  20. Grayfox3d on April 23rd, 2017 3:13 am

    Looks like something is about to happen… Vogelbach got pulled today.

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