Game 71, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · June 18, 2017 at 10:38 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Christian Bergman vs. Yu Darvish, 12:05pm

Happy Fathers Day!

After losing the first three games of the series and four in a row overall, the M’s turn to Christian Bergman to stop the skid. Bergman, who got annihilated in a 20-7 loss his last game. The guy now pitching for his job as the M’s wheel of 5th starters continues to spin. Bergman’s big test occurs in Arlington, where the ball’s been flying, and occurs opposite the Rangers’ ace, Yu Darvish. Fangraphs’ odds give the M’s a 36.1% chance in this one, a figure that seems almost charmingly optimistic.

The big M’s transaction of the day is notable not because Rob Whalen was optioned back to the minors (to AA, actually), but because of who’s coming up to replace him. The M’s have brought in an actual prospect, 6’8″ Max Povse, who looked dominant at times this spring and in early April with Arkansas, but has lost a bunch of time with a hamstring injury. He’s thrown just 3 1/3 IP since coming off the DL, and has thrown less than 6 innings in total since May 5th. There are a number of reasons NOT to do something like this, but it seems like the M’s have tired of rotating through fungible, replacement-level starting depth. Rob Whalen, Dillon Overton, Bergman…none of them have been consistently effective, and so the M’s – now that we’re safely past the Super 2 date – will try something different. I worry that given his injury-riddled past 6 weeks, Povse won’t be as effective as he would otherwise be; I worry that they’re putting him in a position to fail. But I sympathize with Dipoto’s plight here, even if it’s at least partially of his own making.

The other story regarding the M’s pitching depth is an easier, better one: Felix Hernandez was again dominant in his 3rd rehab outing, shutting out the Salt Lake Bees over 6 IP, giving up 4 hits, no walks and striking out 8. From all accounts, he was in complete control and ready to head back up I-5 to Seattle.

Darvish is still one of the most compelling pitchers to watch in all of baseball, with the deepest repertoire in the game, and impressive velocity. He’ll be a free agent after this year, and teams are probably already asking Texas about him for the stretch run. With Texas in 2nd place in the West and in the wild card mix, they may not move him unless they get a ridiculous offer, but Darvish is the kind of player that engenders such proposals. Unfortunately for the Rangers, he’s having a down year by his own lofty standards. Darvish’s ERA is more than a run below his FIP (so far, so Rangers), and that FIP’s crept up past 4. It’s never been close to that mark over his career. His K rate’s still great, but it’s declined, and his improvement in walk rate from 2012-2016 is gone, too. His ERA’s been saved by a career high strand rate and a .230 BABIP; he’s still good, but this just isn’t the guy we saw last season, to say nothing of 2014.

As Greg Johns of tweeted, the M’s now grade out as baseball’s best defensive OF by both UZR and DRS. Their improvement from a rough start has been consistent and rapid, and the team deserves credit for that. I’m still a bit suspicious of the magnitude of the numbers reported, just because the simple defensive efficiency numbers (the percentage of balls in the air they’ve converted into outs) lags many other teams, especially the Yankees (who are #2 by UZR). The M’s DE on fly balls, per Baseball Prospectus, is .901, good for 10th-best in the league. Oddly, the M’s 17th-ranked OF last year put up a DE of .906 on fly balls. There were 22 teams with a fly ball efficiency of at least .900 in 2016, while just 10 are on pace to do that now.

1: Gamel, LF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Dyson, CF
8: Ruiz, C
9: Smith, SS
SP: Bergman

Felix’s gem gave the Rainiers their 11th shutout victory of 2017. It’s just mid June, and they play in the PCL. Remarkable. Closer Jean Machi has given up just 1 run this year, and now sports an ERA of 0.40.

Nick Neidert’s the big prospect to watch among the M’s MiLB probables. Dylan Unsworth starts in AA, and the intriguing Robert Dugger starts for Clinton. The 18th-round pick from last year’s draft has given up 5 runs in his last 30+ innings, yielding just 20 hits.


12 Responses to “Game 71, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 1:18 pm

    Wow, M’s are up 5-2 in the third… and there are no comments! Can’t really blame people though, given the team’s performance…

    I’m not sure what Valencia was trying to do in the top of the inning, though. Dyson, I can see him trying to catch the infield napping. But Valencia isn’t exactly speedy.

  2. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 1:22 pm

    Ah, Chooch, the stars were against thee…

  3. mrakbaseball on June 18th, 2017 1:23 pm

    Darvish games are such a chore, he takes forever between pitches.

  4. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 1:44 pm

    Yeah, makes me think he’ll end up with the Yankees or the Red Sox – just because the time between his pitches will fit right in. 😀

    His repertoire is still amazing, though.

  5. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 2:07 pm

    Dyson was safe.

  6. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 2:49 pm

    Yeah, Mariners, you don’t want to make this too easy.

  7. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 2:51 pm

    Man, that ball two call was freaking awful. Not even close to being a ball.

  8. WTF_Ms on June 18th, 2017 2:59 pm

    I’ve noticed more this season than others past, that the umps are “squeezing” certain pitchers more lately. Seems like some starters get “LeBron” treatment, and others get nothing. In the Mairiners case, our relievers are NOT getting close calls up, or outside.

  9. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 3:11 pm

    Nice of the Rangers to get sloppy and give us another run there! Especially right after Seager almost got caught napping out there at second base.

  10. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 3:15 pm

    Yeah, this time Dyson was out. But New York owes us a call, so maybe they’ll call him… nope, reversed it and called him out.

  11. WTF_Ms on June 18th, 2017 3:19 pm

    A couple charity runs helps.

  12. Westside guy on June 18th, 2017 3:53 pm

    Woo hoo! Mariners win!

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