Game 45, White Sox at Mariners

marc w · May 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Heston, sure, why not vs. Derek Holland, 1:10pm

The M’s lost last night 16-1, and their most successful pitcher was probably Mike Freeman, the back-up utility infielder, who threw a bunch of 65-70 MPH “fastballs”* and somehow only gave up 1 run. The loss dropped the M’s into last place in the admittedly competitive AL West, and knocked their Fangraphs’ wildcard odds below 10%. It’s been a rough couple of days. Jose Quintana dominating this line-up you can kind of understand, but Mike Pelfrey?

I mentioned it on twitter, but M’s catchers now have all of 19 hits on the season – that’s Zunino, Gosewisch and Ruiz combined. Ex-Mariner Rene Rivera – actually Rene Rivera – had 17 hits in his 11-game hitting streak that was sadly snapped last night. The same Rene Rivera who used to play for the Mariners now has 24 hits on the season. Chris Taylor is hitting .338/.454/.588. This isn’t a “why do they always get better” lament – it’s just pointing out that baseball is getting surreal. I’d be happier about it if the Mariners were benefiting a bit more, but it’s hard to be too disappointed that the M’s aren’t winning at a game that’s obviously drunk.

Derek Holland’s a familiar foe, having pitched for Texas for so long. The oft-injured lefty’s the same as ever by fielding independent metrics, but has a shiny ERA thanks to a low BABIP. His velocity’s down a couple of ticks from where it was from 2013-2015, but he can still sit at 92. Chris Heston’s still down 1-2 MPH, and unlike Holland, he wasn’t starting at 94-94.5. With a sinker that’s averaging just shy of 88, Heston’s command has to be pinpoint, and it just hasn’t been this year. He’s pitched fairly well in AAA, but even there, his walk rate is about 3.4 per 9, and including HBPs with walks pushes it to about 4/9 IP. He’s pitched around that in AAA by getting ground balls and getting somewhat lucky on fly ball contact, but both of those things are much harder to do here. This isn’t to say that the M’s shouldn’t have called him up; there’s essentially no other options (everyone else who could’ve come up pitched in the last day or two). It’s to say that Heston still isn’t quite “back” from his TJ surgery. I hope he gets there eventually – that he can sit at 90 and that his sinker can rack up ground balls. But he’s always had essentially no margin for error, and at 87, even *good* command might get punished.

1: Segura, SS
2: Heredia, LF
3: Cruz, DH
4: Seager, 3B
5: Motter, 2B
6: Gamel, RF
7: Vogelbach, 1B
8: Gosewisch, C
9: Dyson, CF
SP: Heston

As you can see, Dan Vogelbach’s been recalled with Freeman heading to Tacoma. Maybe to stretch out his arm?

Heston’s recall sends Overton back to Tacoma.
The Rainiers stunned the I-Cubs with a 9th inning comeback last night, turning a 4-3 deficit into a 7-4 lead that they held on to for a 7-5 win. Mike Zunino’s HR was the big blow in that fateful 9th inning. All of the runs, heck, all of the baserunners, came with 2 outs, too. Andrew Moore went 7, giving up 4 runs and striking out 9 with no walks. They’re back at it today, with Modesto call-up Nathan Bannister on the hill.

Arkansas edged Tulsa 6-5. Brett Ash got the win and former M’s prospect Edward Paredes took the loss. Lindsey Caughel’s on the mound for the Travs today.

Modesto dominated San Jose 14-4.

* Gameday initially classified Freeman’s pitches as “knuckleballs” because it’s not used to 65 MPH fastballs, but Freeman told Ryan Divish after the game they weren’t knuckleballs. It’s obvious from their spin, too, but while some neutral observers may be upset that they didn’t get to see the very rare combination of position-player-pitching with a knuckler. I’d like to suggest that Freeman tossing slow pitches – one of which was about 59 MPH – that ARE NOT knuckleballs is actually more special, more rare. Position players pitching are pretty much all the same: a lot of mid-80s fastballs, and the occasional change or slider-type-thing. Freeman reared back gently leaned back and slung balls designed to be slower than batting practice. It…well, it didn’t exactly work, but it wasn’t a disaster. A knuckleball, even a bad one, is an attempt at deception. There was absolutely no guile or deceit in what Freeman did, and I think it was remarkably brave. I’m not saying Dillon Overton should try it now, but I kind of hope another position player gets weird instead of throwing 82 MPH straight pitches.
I’d be remiss without noting that while Brooks Baseball classifies all of Freeman’s pitches as “fastballs,” I think there were two cutter/slider-y things. With a pitch at ~59 and one approaching ~79, I just don’t think he was trying to do the same thing with each pitch. Two of them had a kind of gyro spin that make me think they were breaking balls.


16 Responses to “Game 45, White Sox at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 1:32 pm

    Just tuned in at the bottom of the first… ChiSox are already up 5-0.

    This team appears to be in free fall right now.

    … but Segura has just led off with a hit!

  2. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 1:35 pm

    … and promptly got erased in a DP. Why are the Mariners hitting so many ground balls lately?

  3. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 1:36 pm

    Nelly made an out, but at least it was in the air. 😛

  4. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 1:40 pm

    What a throw by Heredia!

  5. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 1:41 pm

    All right, a 1-2-3 inning for once.

  6. Notfromboise on May 21st, 2017 1:41 pm

    Hey, stranger things have happened. Its early.

  7. mrakbaseball on May 21st, 2017 2:12 pm

    Vogelbach showing off that much heralded agility of his.

  8. stevemotivateir on May 21st, 2017 2:54 pm

    They really needed to come out ahead in this home series. They get some tough opponents on the road next and won’t have as much help returning as initially believed.

  9. mrakbaseball on May 21st, 2017 2:58 pm

    There was actually some optimism after Thursday, that’s all but vanquished by now though. That series at the Nationals could be ugly.

  10. Grayfox3d on May 21st, 2017 3:08 pm

    The ship has sailed and left this band of misfit Mariners washed ashore.

  11. mrakbaseball on May 21st, 2017 4:10 pm

    Conservatively, let’s say 88 wins is enough for one of the wild card berths, the Mariners will have to go 68-49 .581 ball the rest of the season to reach that. .581 is a 94-win pace. Things look grim.

  12. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 4:54 pm

    While the fit isn’t perfect, this is pretty close to the worst case scenario everyone saw heading into the season. An expensive, aging core of players all get hurt, plus the team didn’t have much starting pitching depth to fall back on when the younger pitchers also started dropping.

    Many of Dipoto’s pickups seem like good additions… but the team really needed a lot to go right, while very little actually has done so.

    I don’t see the team throwing in the towel because of the second wild card – at least right now. But we are dangerously close to the point where, logically, Dipoto will have to declare the window (the chance to win before Jack Z’s expensive carryovers are too old to contribute) is closed, and the team has to start thinking about competing a few years out. If that happens, I’ll feel pretty bad for Felix.

  13. mrakbaseball on May 21st, 2017 6:27 pm

    Well, everybody would love to be put in Felix’s $175 million shoes. I feel bad for the fans.

  14. Westside guy on May 21st, 2017 8:51 pm

    Fair enough.

  15. LongDistance on May 22nd, 2017 6:35 am

    The only thing our catchers can do is … squat. Wandered over to see the comparisons in current payrolls, and then masochist that I am, the payroll percentages locked in for the next three years. Uh … word to the wise: don’t go there. Heartbreak Hotel. With Dipoto as a long term occupant.

  16. Notfromboise on May 22nd, 2017 1:59 pm

    The really brutal thing is we have gaping holes at first, behind the plate… and in every single spot on the pitching staff + bullpen.

    And we’re somehow only 5 games below .500.

    What do you do as dipoto? Do you make some Cliff-Lee type trades and eviscerate your future Adam Joneses?

    Dipoto has done a solid job restocking young talent. It would be a shame to empty the cupboard right away cuz of a rash of pitching injuries.

    Or you can look the other way and say an aging Felix/Kuma duo with Paxton wasn’t the makings of a playoff staff to begin with. But he turned Walker into assets and it wasnt really Dipoto’s fault that Wade Miley failed to be a 200 inning better-than-replacement guy for the first time in his career.

    So Either Dipoto is the saviour, but gotten royally snakebitten… or his plan was never good enough to make the Cano/Cruz/Felix era mariners world series contenders.. If the latter is true, thats quite a vicious crime. And that is what i’m worried about. Not so much that our pitching staff has been horrid as a whole.. but that it wasnt really in the plans for it to be that much better.

    Remember all the press about our outfield defense? That was literally the extent our pitching staff was bolstered in the off season. Well besides the bad luck with Smyly.

    Is pitching really that hard to find? It feels like after Paxton the other 9 slots have been royally disappointing.. All of them. It almost can’t be Dipoto’s fault.. except that it literally *has* to be Dipoto’s fault.. Even Dusty Baker couldnt misuse a pitching staff to the point that every single pitcher had a massive downyear.

    You can’t really blame it on Servais. Outside of maybe dropping Diaz as a closer because no one else was inspiring confidence either lol.

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