Game 101, Red Sox at Mariners

marc w · July 24, 2017 at 5:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Eduardo Rodriguez, 7:10pm

Sorry for the radio silence over the weekend; I was extremely busy with family stuff. I had fun, and didn’t mind (too much) that the M’s limped into the Red Sox series having lost 3 of 4 to the Yankees.

The Red Sox come in with a 2.5 game lead over New York in the AL East. Clearly a playoff-caliber team, they’re kicking the tires on deadline acquisitions, but their biggest move was an internal one. Today, the Red Sox have called up their top prospect, 20-year old 3B Rafael Devers. He’s not starting tonight, but is expected to tomorrow. Devers takes over for Pablo Sandoval, who was DFA’d a little while ago. In less promising news, lefty David Price was in the news on the flight up to Seattle for berating Red Sox color commentator Dennis Eckersley for some comments the latter made on air about a rehab start made by tonight’s starter, Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez missed essentially all of June and half of July recovering from a knee injury.

Rodriguez is a hard-throwing lefty the Sox acquired for Andrew Miller in what was widely seen as a steal – for Boston. Miller left for greener pastures while Rodriguez turned heads in the minors, often sitting in the high 90s with his fastball and dominating lower-level hitters. After a couple of up-and-down seasons, he seemed poise to make the leap to #2 starter this year, and put up solid numbers in April and May, leading to a flurry of stories about him turning a corner. The injury and a so-so start in Toronto have put that supposed developmental leap in question, as he struggled with command in the minors (hence Eckersley’s Price-enraging comments) and walked 4 in 5 1/3 IP in his return to the big leagues. He was great against the M’s back in May, when he shut them out over 6 IP, but even then, he walked 3 and K’d just 4.

His velocity is, at this point, down significantly from the perhaps-over-enthusiastic reports of 97 MPH. He’s averaging a bit under 94 now, and it gets less-than-average vertical movement. Movement-wise, it reminds me of Thyago Vieira’s fastball, though Vieira of course throws 1) much harder and 2) right-handed. Rodriguez’s best pitch may be his running change-up, thrown around 87 MPH. Like Marco Gonzales/Mike Montgomery, it has 10″+ of armside run, but gets more drop than either of them. This pitch is the primary reason he’s shown essentially no platoon splits over his big league career. He has a cutter and slider, too, with the slider his primary breaking ball to lefties. It’s nothing much to write home about, but then he doesn’t see enough lefties for it to matter much. The most notable thing about him is his reliance on his four-seam fastball; he’s in the top 10 in baseball in the frequency he throws it, at just under 65%.

Like many of his teammates, Rodriguez is targeting the high strike these days, and his ground ball rate and GB/FB ratios have dropped as a result. That’s made him somewhat vulnerable to home runs, but it should also keep his BABIP low – which it is, at .278. What’s remarkable is that he’s put up that BABIP despite a terrible infield pop-up rate; he’s been good at inducing pop-ups before, but they’re just not showing up this year.

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

I was going to use this space to write about how great Emilio Pagan’s been recently. The extreme fly-balling long reliever has been working not just in low-leverage situations, but in some close games, as he did twice in the Yankees series. Anyway, no need for me to go on about him, as Bob Dutton did it in the News Tribune. Check it out.

The M’s acquired former Nationals and Angels IF Danny Espinosa yesterday, a move that sent Taylor Motter to AAA. I’d assume the M’s will activate Espinosa before tonight’s game. Espinosa hit 20+ HRs for the Nats twice, but problems, er, controlling the zone led to abysmal batting averages and OBPs, which made him tough to play, even though he’s a good defender at SS. He cratered in Anaheim this year, slashing just .162/.237/.276 with the 2nd-lowest zone-contact and overall contact rates in the game. Once a high-ISO, high-K guy, Espinosa’s spent 2017 as Joey Gallo-but-without-power, which is not a bankable skill. Still, I understand the M’s desire to see if Edgar can coax some zone-control into a guy who hit 24 HRs as recently as 2016.

The long-rumored, on-again, off-again trade between the Twins and Braves involving LHP Jaime Garcia finally went through today, with the Twins getting Garcia in exchange for a package headlined by RP prospect Huascar Ynoa, 19, who’s scuffled a bit in the Appy League but throws hard and is already 6’3″, 220. Garcia’s a free agent at the end of the year, so it’s not really comparable to the Marco Gonzales deal, but… this isn’t going to make M’s fans feel any better about losing Tyler O’Neill. Ynoa was the Twins #22 prospect, and he returned a league-averageish starting pitcher, who’ll slot right into the Twins rotation. The Twins, of course, are a bit ahead of the M’s in the wild card race, and just acquired a rent-a-starter for live-armed peanuts, while the M’s traded for a guy who one day might pitch about as well as Garcia will down the stretch. I acknowledge that Jerry Dipoto is not playing for 2017 *alone* and that getting a contolled starter -not a rental- was a priority. That’s understandable. But paying inflated, deadline prices for cost-controlled depth looks suspicious not only in light of what such pitchers go for in the off-season, but what rentals cost. Sure, you’d RATHER have a pitcher under contract for 5 years rather than 5 months, but the M’s had already signaled that they wanted to make a run in 2017. Garcia would’ve worked pretty well, and now he’ll be pitching for a wild card rival. Great.

Speaking of the trade market, this piece says that the M’s are trying to get involved in the Sonny Gray market. There are a number of reasons this is unlikely, starting with the fact that Tyler O’Neill is now a Memphis Redbird, but extending to the fact that teams with deep farm systems are also likely to be involved. Gray’s a free agent after 2018, so he’s more than just a rental. If the M’s DID want him, it’d take pretty much every other big prospect they’ve got…so, Kyle Lewis and Nick Neidert.

This report says that the M’s have inquired with the Giants and Padres about pitching help, and with Giants’ farm team Sacramento in Tacoma, that’s where Jerry Dipoto was today. The day game in beautiful Tacoma was also Marco Gonzales’ first start in the M’s system, and the Gonzaga product got the win, pitching 6 IP, giving up 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB and 5 Ks. A perfectly solid game, and while I’m trying not to be too pessimistic, it’s the kind of start Christian Bergman’s thrown roughly 78 of for Tacoma this year. Dan Vogelbach homered in the R’s 4-3 win. One of the Giants’ top pitching prospects, Tyler Beede, was scheduled to start this game, but hurt his groin during warm-ups, so it was a bullpen day for the RiverCats.

Other probables in the M’s system tonight include Danny Garcia, Anthony Misiewicz and Jose Garcia.


6 Responses to “Game 101, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on July 24th, 2017 8:15 pm

    So far so good…

  2. Westside guy on July 24th, 2017 8:17 pm

    Whatever else is wrong with the Mariners – Big Maple is what’s right.

  3. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2017 9:11 pm

    Could it be that Dipoto’s insistence on controllable pitching led him off-track from his own plan? Would a rental really have been so bad/expensive?

    Depleting the team of A-level, mediocre starting pitching without any plus pitches is one thing, but we’ve now seen 5 top prospects from the beginning of the offseason moved for…wait for it…AA & AAA-level, mediocre starting pitching without any plus pitches–and…wait for it…rentals.

    Maybe it’s just me, but trading elite prospects for other elite prospects, or solid, established MLBers under control, would seemingly make much more sense.

    Extending Dyson and Valencia would soften things a little, and I would guess that there will be significant shopping via free agency this coming offseason.

    Having said that, at least we stand a chance this season and should be mostly set for 2018.

  4. stevemotivateir on July 24th, 2017 9:15 pm

    Good to see Paxton with another dominating start.

  5. Westside guy on July 24th, 2017 9:52 pm

    Woo hoo! Big Maple!

  6. HighBrie on July 25th, 2017 12:43 pm

    Just out of curiosity, should I read into the Dipoto in Tacoma story that he was interested in seeing Beede throw (but missed out)? Or was this also probably a scouting trip to see what Marco looks like in person?

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