Game 75, Tigers at Mariners, the Psychological Barrier of .500

marc w · June 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Andrew Moore vs. Daniel Norris, 7:10pm

The M’s have had three chances to get above .500 this year, and each time they’ve failed, losing a few more and generally looking for all the world like a team who’s season is over. But to their credit, they’re back with another shot at it today, and as luck would have it, today’s their big pitching prospect’s MLB debut. This could go wrong, although I think the number of M’s fans who, given the stakes, are clamoring to give the ball to Yovani Gallardo or Rob Whalen are limited to direct family members of Yovani Gallardo or Rob Whalen. It could also signal that the M’s are going to go about the rest of the season a bit differently, and, pace the talk of a month ago, could even be buyers at the deadline.

Ex-Lookout Landing editor Nathan Bishop penned this great essay last night about the M’s fortune to find themselves, almost by accident, in a playoff race. As Bishop mentions, the key to this turnaround – beyond the M’s offense – has been the general mediocrity of the AL wild card hopefuls. For whatever reason, it’s generally taken 88-89 wins to grab the second wild card. That may not be necessary this year, as the group of teams below the Yankees/Red Sox pairing is all bunched up around .500. The Tigers have utterly collapsed, and look out of it. Minnesota can’t pitch, and while there’s some pot/kettle stuff going on when an M’s fan lays that charge…I mean, seriously, those guys can’t pitch. With the M’s offense clicking, you kind of have to like their chances against the likes of Tampa, Minnesota and Toronto. To be fair, just as the M’s weren’t as bad as they looked a month ago, they’re not going to score 7 runs a night from here on out.

That’s why tonight’s start is so important. We think, or at least hope, that Andrew Moore’s fundamentally different from Christian Bergman and Rob Whalen, but at just 23 years old, it’s not immediately clear that he is. He’s got better command and gets rave reviews for his competitiveness and guile, but this is a huge spot to land in for your MLB debut. This isn’t pressure you’d put on most rookies, so it just reinforces the fact that the M’s have all but said, “This is no ordinary prospect,” for the past two years. He’s not an ace, he’s not a fireballer, but the team believes in his ability to adjust and get people out. I hope they’re right.

Moore faces Daniel Norris, another 2nd round pick, but one who’s taken a very different path. Norris was drafted at #72 overall in 2011. Moore was drafted #74 overall in 2015. Norris was drafted out of high school, where his solid FB velocity, breaking ball, and change made him a very hot commodity. By 2014, he was a big-time prospect in the Jays org, and reached #18 overall coming into 2015. Andrew Moore wasn’t a big time recruit out of HS as he was less than 6′ tall and didn’t throw terribly hard; no big shock that he wasn’t selected in the draft back then. He went to Oregon State, coming out of the gate strong with a 14-2 season with an ERA under 2. After two more solid years, the M’s grabbed him in the 2nd round in what was widely seen as a bit of a reach. He’s gained velocity as a pro, and sat at 92 this spring. His trademark command has followed him up the ladder, and thus he’s forecast to have a below average walk rate. As I mentioned yesterday, that’ll be important if he continues to give up so many fly balls and home runs. I’d like to think that, thanks to that command, he may be the kind of guy – like Hisashi Iwakuma was – who consistently “beats” his FIP. How much that matters depends on that HR rate, which is essentially impossible to predict. Keep it in the park, Andrew, and you’ll be fine.

As I hinted at in yesterday’s oh-so-prophetic post (I thought Verlander was going to throw a perfecto just to spite me), Norris has regressed a bit after what looked like a breakout 2016. His walk rate’s way up, and while he’s not giving up too many HRs, his BABIP’s been quite high in recent years. He’s throwing fewer strikes with all of his pitches, and his four-seam fastball’s getting hit more than it ever has. Not sure what the reason is. His change-up and curve look like interesting pitches, and both are showing more vertical drop; the change in particular looks more intriguing from a movement point of view this year. The problem is that they’re dropping out of the zone, and batters aren’t chasing them. The change in particular is notable for just how often batters have taken it. A good change-up generally gets more swings than any pitch type, often including fastballs. Erasmo Ramirez is getting swings on 65% of his cambios. I’ve mentioned this in the past with regard to Iwakuma, who gets a ton of swings on his splitter (a subspecies of change-up) despite throwing it out of the zone. This year, Norris has the second-worst swing rate of anyone who’s thrown at least 100 change-ups. Ouch.

1: Segura, SS
2: Haniger, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Gamel, LF
8: Heredia, CF
9: Zunino, C
SP: ANDREW MOORE

Great performances in the M’s minors last night include Lindsey Caughel’s 6 scoreless innings in Arkansas’ 1-0 win over NWA and Greifer Andrade’s 2 hits in Everett’s loss in Vancouver. Modesto and Clinton are back at it tonight after enjoying their league all-star breaks.

Comments

13 Responses to “Game 75, Tigers at Mariners, the Psychological Barrier of .500”

  1. marc w on June 22nd, 2017 7:21 pm

    Moore hit 93 often in that 1-2-3 inning, including on his strikeout of Avila. That couldn’t have gone any better.

  2. Westside guy on June 22nd, 2017 7:33 pm

    Nice to tune into an in-progress game where they’re not already behind by four or five runs!

  3. marc w on June 22nd, 2017 7:54 pm

    Yeah, Moore’s been great, and Norris has helped push My Narrative by walking a couple (and throwing Gamel all fastballs!).

  4. Westside guy on June 22nd, 2017 7:58 pm

    Looks like Aaron Goldsmith is using one of those ginormous iPad Pros in the booth (for a sun shield at the moment).

  5. mrakbaseball on June 22nd, 2017 7:59 pm

    I can’t stand Ian Kinsler, another insufferable “play the game the right way” jerk.

  6. stevemotivateir on June 22nd, 2017 8:00 pm

    Ok, his nightly dinger is out of the way. He can get back to what he was doing now.

    Nice to see these lineups with no weaknesses.

  7. Westside guy on June 22nd, 2017 8:10 pm

    Woo hoo! Robbie Cano with a homer!

    Speaking of “playing the game the right way”, I noticed that both Verlander and the Tigers’ manager stated they had no issue with Dyson’s bunt hit yesterday. Baby steps, at least…

  8. Westside guy on June 22nd, 2017 9:33 pm

    Dammit, why doesn’t mlb.tv’s rewind function actually WORK???

  9. stevemotivateir on June 22nd, 2017 9:40 pm

    Never would have guessed that we’d be seeing both Moore and Povse in the same game in June. Moore’s obviously had a better first go.

  10. Westside guy on June 22nd, 2017 9:53 pm

    Don’t walk people, Zych. Sheesh!

  11. mrakbaseball on June 22nd, 2017 10:08 pm

    First 4-game sweep of the Tigers in Seattle in history. Congrats. Big test for Hernandez tomorrow vs the Astros.

  12. Sowulo on June 23rd, 2017 2:09 am

    I’d take 7 innings and 3 runs from my #4 or 5 pitcher every outing please.

  13. bookbook on June 23rd, 2017 5:20 am

    Sure. As long as we can figure out pitchers 1-3, we’re good to go.

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