Game 21, Mariners at Tigers

marc w · April 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 4:10pm

Happy Felix Day!

The M’s take on a Tigers team that’s tied for the lead in the AL Central, and – if the projections are any guide – one of their primary rivals in the hunt for a wild card. They’ll do so with Felix on the mound against Jordan Zimmermann, the former Nat who signed a $110 million deal with Detroit to replace/upgrade the hole in their rotation left by Rick Porcello.

Zimmermann was a low-key star, a pitcher with a fastball that averaged nearly 95 and who racked up at least 3 fWAR in 5 consecutive seasons, and who’d kept his ERA and FIP under 4 while averaging 200 IP for his last 4 years in Washington DC. In his first three outings for Detroit, he tossed nearly 20 innings and didn’t give up a single run. Still, there were some warning signs: Zimmermann’s fastball was down 2 ticks, averaging just 92.4 MPH. And while his walk rate was still better than average, it was higher than his own established level of performance – Zimmermann had kept his walk rate in the vicinity of 5% for years. As the summer wore on, Zimmermann started to feel pain in his neck, and he was DL’d in July after giving up 12 runs in 9+ innings. After returning, he was still not quite the same, giving up another 12 runs in just 2 1/3 IP in 2 disastrous starts. Between bouts of ineffectiveness and trying to work his way back into game shape, he failed to pitch more than 4 IP the rest of the season. The result was a poor overall season line, with K rates far below his established average, higher walk rates, higher HR rates, and lower velocity.

It wasn’t all bad, of course, as he showed flashes of his previous self, and ultimately figured out what was bothering his neck/shoulder (a pinched nerve, apparently). But three starts in to 2017, it’s not like Zimmermann’s back to being the exceptionally steady #2/#3 he was in DC. He’s still walking people, and his K rate is stuck well below average. In DC, Zimmermann’s fastball had slightly less “rise” than most, and was thrown from a 3/4 arm slot. In Detroit, he’s moved his arm slot up, albeit very slightly. This has led to more rise, as more of the spin is back spin as opposed to side spin. There are plenty of reasons why a pitcher might want that, but the results for Zimmermann are a fastball that’s easier than ever to elevate, and one that gets fewer whiffs. In general, a fastball with more vertical movement might be expected to get MORE swinging strikes, but Zimmermann’s ceteris is not very paribus: the significantly lower velocity swamps any effect of more vertical movement (and the movement/arm slot differences are pretty minor).

Zimmermann relies on his fastball quite a bit, and also throws a slider and curve. He’s been toying with a change-up for years, and seems to be throwing more of it this year, but I don’t know if that’s just a fluke or if he has more confidence in it now. He has fairly normal platoon splits – probably a bit on the small side, actually, which is somewhat surprising for a fastball/slider guy. The M’s have their first-choice line-up in there, so hopefully they can get to him early or at the very least run up his pitch count.

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

Welcome back, Jean Segura. The debate about how to get Taylor Motter ABs will pick up after Kyle Seager returns from his hip issue, but until then, hey, more Motter. Minor leaguer Jonathan Aro, whom the M’s acquired in the Miley-Carson Smith deal, was suspended 50 games for a positive drug test.

Lots going on in the minors, with more players joining affiliates who started the season in extended ST or on the DL. One such player was the unfortunate starter in Tacoma’s bullpen day in Albuquerque yesterday, Rafael Pineda. Pineda was a 30th round pick back in 2013, and first played in Pulaski, a level of pro ball the M’s did away with not long after. Pineda’s been hurt for a while, but made his first appearance since getting a handful of innings in Bakersfield last year. It didn’t go well. He gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning, and that was essentially that for Tacoma in an 12-8 loss. Mike Freeman had 2 hits in his return to AAA, Tyler O’Neill hit his 3rd HR and also had 2 2Bs, and Boog Powell had 4 hits including 2 2Bs of his own. The R’s and Isotopes were scheduled to play today, but it was rained out.

A day after Andrew Moore’s first not completely successful start (the Travs lost to Cards prospect Jack Flaherty and Springfield 8-1), Max Povse had a nearly identical start in a nearly identical game (this time, the Travs lost to Tulsa 8-1). Not creepy at all! Povse gave up 4 runs to Moore’s 3, so his ERA is now 1.82, while Moore’s is *totally different* at 1.46. Chuck Taylor doubled and tripled in a losing effort. One reliever who pitched in the game for Tulsa was a familiar face – Edward Paredes, now in the Dodger org, who pitched for Tacoma and Everett 10 years ago. He was a decent prospect in the M’s system what seems like a lifetime ago. He’s been in the minors so long, he appears in our ancient “Future Forty” prospect lists (Carlos Triunfel – projected star)! Arksansas looks for revenge tonight with Dylan Unsworth on the hill.

Inland Empire scored 7 runs in the middle innings to pull away from Modesto, 9-4. Rehabbing Angel Luis Valbuena had a 2-R 2B, and Matt Thaiss added 2 2Bs for the 66ers, while Braden Bishop extended his hitting streak to 15 and Ricky Eusebio homered for the Nuts. The two clubs play again tonight; no word on the pitching match-ups.

Clinton completed the org sweep by losing 10-7 to the Beloit Snappers. A furious comeback fell a bit short, as Clinton scored 5 in the 9th, but they needed at least 8. Joe Rizzo, the M’s overslot 2nd rounder last year out of a Virginia HS went 4-5, and is now 5-8 in 2 games. This is an aggressive assignment for the teenager, but it’s a great sign that the org believes he can handle it. Nick Zammarelli, one of Everett’s best hitters last year, played his 2nd game and 1st at 1B – he’s off to a good start as well, going 3-9 with a HR in his first action of 2017. Tim Viehoff takes the mound for the Lumberkings tonight.


31 Responses to “Game 21, Mariners at Tigers”

  1. globalalpha on April 25th, 2017 1:37 pm

    Hi Marc, just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your commitment to putting up these game threads. I don’t post much but read them most every day, great pitcher analysis and the like. Thanks very much!

  2. MKT on April 25th, 2017 4:23 pm

    Bonus points for using “ceteris paribus” in the post.

  3. marc w on April 25th, 2017 4:27 pm


    Thanks so much – I Really appreciate that.

  4. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2017 4:30 pm

    Felix command looks a little out of whack this first inning, hopefully he gets it going with a lead in his pocket.

  5. msfanmike on April 25th, 2017 4:52 pm

    The “human Hoover” at 1B … can’t bend over far enough to backhand a ball. Too much Vogel-front.

  6. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2017 4:53 pm

    No Cabrera no JD Martinez no problem I guess for the Tigers. Ugh.

  7. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2017 5:03 pm

    Just started watching, already gave up 4 runs? Apparently Felix is only good at home now. Then, Hanniger tweaks a wrist diving back into 1st base. Valencia back in the lineup means more strike outs.

  8. mrakbaseball on April 25th, 2017 5:08 pm

    Weird game, Haniger out with an apparent injury and Felix done after just 2 innings.

  9. msfanmike on April 25th, 2017 5:14 pm

    Strained oblique for Haniger. Damn.

    That’s a bad injury for a baseball player.

    I’m guessing Gamel will not be playing for Tacoma tonight.

  10. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2017 5:22 pm

    The “M’s” should be short for the “Murhpy’s Law’s” team. These guys….if it can go bad, it has or will.

  11. mrakbaseball on April 25th, 2017 5:27 pm

    Gamel shamel, looks like Motter will put his outfielder’s glove to use.

  12. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2017 5:30 pm

    April for this team seems to be a nightmare every year. We get so far behind early, that it’s nearly impossible to come back.

  13. msfanmike on April 25th, 2017 5:33 pm

    If Haniger is placed on the IR (which he likely will be) who do you think they will call up? I think it will probably be Shamel

  14. msfanmike on April 25th, 2017 5:34 pm

    Or maybe a 9th reliever.

  15. msfanmike on April 25th, 2017 5:42 pm

    Valencia should stand wherever Haniger stands – more often.

  16. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2017 5:57 pm

    At this rate we’ll need that ninth reliever.

  17. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2017 6:08 pm

    *sigh* to think I thought we had a chance.

  18. mrakbaseball on April 25th, 2017 6:11 pm

    Can Shamel pitch?

  19. msfanmike on April 25th, 2017 6:13 pm

    James Jones may be available … he can “play” the outfield and pitch.

    I think Marshall needs to take one for the team and throw 80-100 pitches. Neither he or Heston will be with the team tomorrow.


  20. stevemotivateir on April 25th, 2017 6:18 pm

    Ok, who’s pulling my leg? I just tuned in to see what clearly can’t be a score of 16-5, and certainly Haniger can’t be injured.

    If Felix can’t pitch and Haniger can’t play, what’s left?

  21. MKT on April 25th, 2017 6:22 pm

    Yeah, I was about to start listening to this game … and have decided to try to find a basketball game to listen to.

  22. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2017 6:31 pm

    I went to get dinner, and it was “only” 10-4. Just checked. Another “bad day” game. We can’t have too many more of these.

  23. Grayfox3d on April 25th, 2017 6:50 pm

    I’m trying to remain positive, after this loss were only 5 games out of being .500, outside of Houston, the only teams in our division have not really opened any eyes.

  24. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2017 6:54 pm

    There’s the division, but even if we’re 2nd best in our division, we don’t make the playoffs. We’ll have to win our division if there’s any chance.

  25. stevemotivateir on April 25th, 2017 7:04 pm

    Ok boys, gotta get out there and get a few more tonight.

    …just a few more.

    …then a few more.

    …then a few more.

    …and then some.

  26. mrakbaseball on April 25th, 2017 7:10 pm

    Well, at least Segura’s back…

  27. Notfromboise on April 25th, 2017 8:01 pm

    In all seriousness, that is the best we’ve hit all season.

  28. mrakbaseball on April 25th, 2017 8:19 pm

    Felix and Haniger, both flying back to Seattle. Yep.

  29. JMB on April 25th, 2017 9:30 pm

    “Dead arm? I’m sure it’s nothing.”

    Said no one who has been a fan of this team for longer than 15 minutes… sigh.

  30. Mid80sRighty on April 26th, 2017 10:05 am

    Scoring 9 runs should win you a ballgame. I’m not a believer in voodoo, but after watching several seasons of what can go wrong will go wrong, I’m starting to think maybe Seattle is a black hole. WTF did Seattle do to the baseball Gods???

  31. msfanmike on April 26th, 2017 1:11 pm

    They forced too many of them to the pen … the baseball Gods like to have a starting role.

    JD is double/triple/quadrupling down with the 8 man pen … so good for him. Let it ride. Overton and Fien – hahahaha! Overton and Fien for crapping out loud.

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