Game 52, Mariners at Rockies

marc w · May 29, 2017 at 10:56 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Sam Gaviglio vs. Tyler Chatwood, 12:10pm

Happy Memorial Day. Let’s all remember that this is more than just a Monday for day-drinking and baseball.

The M’s visit the surprising Colorado Rockies, owners of the second-best record in the game, and the best in the National League. They’re scoring 5.13 runs per game, so is this team just a throwback to the 2000-era sluggers of Vinny Castilla, Andres Galarraga, and Larry Walker? Well, no – they’re a high scoring team, but far behind the Yankees and Nationals. Their slash line of .267/.323/.443 looks decent enough, but Fangraphs gives that a wRC+ of just 83, one of the worst in the game. Park effects matter, of course. The real story is on the run *prevention* side of the ball, where the Rockies are giving up just 4.27 runs per game, about 7-10ths of a run less than the Mariners *every game*.

The pitching staff has been decent, and even by BaseRuns, their runs allowed are quite low. There are a few reasons why. The first is one I talked about a week or two ago in the article about fastballs and home runs: the Rockies are near the lead in ground ball rate despite the fact that they’re ALSO leading the league in high fastballs. Their home park is rather famous for yielding home runs (you may have heard of this before), but its dimensions make it the most difficult park in baseball to defend: they’re so much area, that doubles and triples flourish as well. By Statcorner’s park factors, the park inflates 2Bs/3Bs significantly more than HRs, in fact. The remarkably high GB rate is critical in that it lowers the opportunity for extra base hits, counteracting the park’s tendency to produce tons and tons of extra base hits. I’m not sure *how* they’re doing it, but the results say it’s happening.

The second reason for their surprising run prevention is that the team’s been very good at turning batted balls into outs. The outfield defense is solid, but again, there’s no way anyone can cover that much ground. Thus, their outfield defensive efficiency is fair to middling – they rank 15th in fly ball defensive efficiency. Look at ground ball defensive efficiency, though, and they’re #2, just behind Zack Cozart and the Reds. The pitching staff induces a bunch of grounders, and the infielders turn those grounders into outs. By BBREF’s hit trajectory splits, the Rockies are allowing a .436 OPS on grounders, good for an OPS+ of 71. It’s a nice little system they have. Add it up, and the Rockies have allowed a remarkably low BABIP.

The final reason is that their bullpen’s been dominant. Greg Holland and Jake McGee make up a formidably one-two punch at the back of the pen, and they’ve gotten serviceable innings from Adam Ottavino and Chris Rusin, too. They lead baseball by two full WINS in WPA thanks to the most shutdown appearances in the game. I’ll admit I was one of the many people who thought it was strange for a team seemingly in a rebuild to spend money and talent to bring in a closer like Holland (one coming off injury at that) and a set-up guy like McGee, but after watching the 2017 Mariners, I’m just jealous. The M’s didn’t need a closer, but the Rockies sent a surplus OF to Tampa for McGee and they’ve reaped the benefits of it. The M’s weren’t really a good trade fit with Tampa in that case (the M’s have obviously made plenty of trades with the Rays), but man, McGee would fit nicely here.

Today’s starter, Tyler Chatwood, is a familiar player to M’s GM Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto became the Angels GM in the fall of 2011, and one of his first big moves was shipping Chatwood to Colorado – where Dipoto’s worked years before. Chatwood wasn’t great, but he’d logged 140+ innings as a rookie with the Halos in 2011, his awful K and BB numbers ameliorated by his ground ball ability. In return, the Angels got Chris Iannetta, who Dipoto had presumably seen as head of pro scouting for the Rockies (he’d acquire him again with the M’s, of course). In Colorado, Chatwood kept his GB profile, but has been stung by the long ball, a product of persistently high HR/FB ratios. More worryingly, he’s missed lots of time to injury. He’s always had good stuff, if you like velocity and sink, but hasn’t quite put it together as a consistent big league starter.

This year, his fastball’s averaging 95 MPH, faster than it was when he came up with Anaheim. He’s throwing it all over (and out of) the zone, and, like the rest of his teammates, getting GBs with it wherever he throws it. He hasn’t been as extreme as teammates Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland, who’ve racked up nearly 30 ground balls on fastballs at least 3′ high (the physics of this baffles me), but then, Chatwood’s real GB ability manifests itself on his secondary pitches. He throws a slider at about 89 and a big breaking curve at 79 that both generate plenty of ground ball contact. To top it off, he throws a change-up that’s even more of an extreme GB pitch.

1: Segura, SS
2: Gamel, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Dyson, CF
9: Gaviglio, P

Tacoma beat Salt Lake 9-7 thanks in part to a 4-run 7th. Kyle Hunter got the win in relief of Tyler Cloyd. Tyler O’Neill doubled twice. Today, Dillon Overton takes the hill in SLC.

Arkansas was locked in a close game with Frisco but then decided that pitcher’s duels are lame and uncorked a 13-run 6th inning. Highlighted by a Grand Slam by Tyler Marlette, the Travs sent 14 men to the plate, and had 11 consecutive reach base. Thyago Vieira’s still scuffling a bit, but coming in with a 15-run lead is a good way to get some extra work in. The Travs are off today.

Modesto’s bats couldn’t back up a brilliant effort from SP Nick Neidert, as the Nuts lost to San Jose 1-0 in 10 IP. Neidert went 6 hitless innings, striking out 9 against just one walk. Spencer Herrman kept it going with 2 more hitless IP in relief, and then Bryan Bonnell completed 9 no-hit innings with three groundouts in the 9th. He gave up 3 hits in the 10th, though, and that was that. The Nuts had 4 hits and *7* bases on balls, but couldn’t push a run across. Anthony Misiewicz starts today and hopes to get a bit more run support than Neidert got.

Clinton jumped all over Wisconsin in an easy 9-2 win. Clinton led 6-0 after 2 and coasted after that. Bryson Brigman and Rayder Ascanio homered, 2 of the L-Kings 6 extra base hits. Robert Dugger and Danny Garcia teamed up for the win; Dugger started and went 3, and then Garcia went the next 4 IP. Brandon Miller starts today’s game.


6 Responses to “Game 52, Mariners at Rockies”

  1. Westside guy on May 29th, 2017 1:41 pm

    Cruz is swinging at obvious balls. With one out and guys on first and third, that seems like a sub-optimal approach. It’s not like Zunino is hitting behind him.

    Okay, he finally walked.

  2. Westside guy on May 29th, 2017 1:49 pm

    Nice hit by Kyle!

  3. Westside guy on May 29th, 2017 3:07 pm

    Bases loaded, so what?

    Wouldn’t want to win too easily, apparently…

  4. mksh21 on May 29th, 2017 3:29 pm

    Edgar has been retired for 15 years, cmon Seattle just move to the NL and get it over with.

  5. Westside guy on May 29th, 2017 3:38 pm

    Woo hoo! Mariners hold on to win again!

  6. Grayfox3d on May 29th, 2017 3:57 pm

    Good win today boys! Diaz looks a lot better hopefully he can keep it up.

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