Game 78, Astros at Mariners

marc w · June 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Francis Martes, 1:10pm

The M’s won the game they were supposed to win, battering Joe Musgrove so comprehensively that the Astros demoted him to AAA. Then the Astros won the game they were supposed to win, when #2 starter and potential Cy Young candidate Lance McCullers drew M’s 5th starter Sam Gaviglio. That left today’s game, which initially looked like a tough one as suddenly effective Brad Peacock was scheduled to match up with Ariel Miranda. But Peacock’s expecting his first child any minute, and he made the appropriate/wise decision to fly back to be with his wife. Thus, the Astros turn to one of their top prospects, and a guy who cracked the top 30 prospect list in all of baseball in 2016, Francis Martes. This is a good thing for the M’s.

The Astros’ vaunted pro scouting department nabbed Martes as a throw-in in a deal involving Jarrod Cosart years ago; he’d been in rookie league for the Marlins. Almost immediately, he started carving through the minors; I remember Clinton facing him in the MWL in 2015 when his ERA was solidly below 1. He pitched in 3 levels that year, only slowing down when he hit AA. After a very good year in AA last year, he kicked off 2017 in the PCL, with everyone knowing he was the most important piece of pitching depth in the Astros system. Meanwhile, though, the PCL rudely started bashing him around. His last start in AAA came against the Tacoma Rainiers, oddly enough, and the Rainiers got to him for 6 hits and 7 runs in just 2 2/3 IP. Martes walked 4 in that game, and that’s become an increasingly big concern. In the big leagues, his walk rate’s down a bit from where it was in Fresno, but it’s still above 10%. He’s got swing and miss stuff, but he’s still got to throw strikes. By BIS or pitch fx, the percentage of his pitches that have been in the strike zone is about 7 percentage points below average. That can work if you induce a ton of out-of-zone swings, or if you have an incredible change-up that can elicit such swings. Martes’ o-swing rates are essentially dead-on average, so this approach is going to lead to plenty of free passes.

Ok, ok, so big time pitching prospect struggles a bit with command in his first MLB tour of duty. That could apply to about anyone, right? True, but the other reason this match-up looks somewhat favorable, despite Martes’ 95 MPH velocity, is that Martes’ pitches move eerily like someone the M’s just saw: Joe Musgrove. Martes and Musgrove both throw a flat four-seam fastball without a ton of vertical rise. It’s not a sinking fastball, but it’s also not a backspin-crazed riseball, either. Martes’ moves about 2″ laterally and 9″ vertically. Musgrove? 3″ and 8″, respectively. Both rely heavily on sliders, throwing them at least 30% of the time. Martes’ is a sweeping slider, moving 6″ gloveside, and dropping by 1″ more than if it was thrown without spin. Musgrove’s moves 6″ gloveside and with -1″ of vertical movement. They’re essentially identical. I know that there’s more to a pitch’s effectiveness than its movement, and it matters that all of Martes’ pitches come in 2 MPH faster. But just as there’s an advantage to a new pitcher facing a team that’s never seen him, that advantage is weakened/eliminated if you’re throwing pitches that look ~ the same as pitches the team just saw a few days ago.

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

The A’s youth movement continues, as they’ve called up a bunch of their top prospects, including Franklin Barreto, the centerpiece of the Josh Donaldson deal (lol). Barreto homered in his debut yesterday, one of three A’s to collect their first MLB HR in the same game.

Mike Zunino’s hitting 6th today, something he’s only done once previously this year. He did it a few times down the stretch last year, after his torrid streak after coming up from AAA, but he’s been stuck in 7-9th this year, and hasn’t been in 6th regularly since 2014.

In ex-M’s news, Ichiro just set a record by becoming the oldest player to start a game in CF, besting Ricky Henderson’s record. Congrats, Ichiro.


9 Responses to “Game 78, Astros at Mariners”

  1. mrakbaseball on June 25th, 2017 1:12 pm

    Per Josh Horton, Gamel is out of the lineup due to a groin issue (lymph node). He’s on antibiotics now, said he doesn’t expect to be long term.

  2. stevemotivateir on June 25th, 2017 1:31 pm

    Please deliver, Kyle.

  3. stevemotivateir on June 25th, 2017 1:34 pm

    Thanks for nothing, Kyle. Maybe try opening your stance with 2 strikes instead of trying to be the hero with a dinger every time?

  4. djw on June 25th, 2017 2:04 pm

    Haniger’s safe.

  5. stevemotivateir on June 25th, 2017 2:04 pm

    Haniger was safe. Let’s see if NY screws this one up as usual.

  6. stevemotivateir on June 25th, 2017 2:07 pm

    WTF was that?! NY must have said “yeah, he’s safe, but go ahead and screw them some anyway”.

  7. Grayfox3d on June 25th, 2017 2:55 pm

    If we’re gonna have any type of run this season, the 3-4-5 hitters are gonna have to step it up, I love Kyle Seager but maybe he needs to drop a few spots in the line up.

  8. Grayfox3d on June 25th, 2017 4:13 pm

    Go back to the National League ASStros…. that’s my childish remark of the day… have a good one Ladies n Gents.

  9. Westside guy on June 26th, 2017 11:24 am

    It’s amazing how fast the Astros have turned their club around… it’s certainly complicating things for the Mariners, given their rapidly closing window for contention – at least with the current core.

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