Game 103, Red Sox at Mariners

marc w · July 26, 2017 at 12:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Andrew Moore vs. Chris Sale, 12:40pm

Last night’s extra-inning win was huge, as it allowed the M’s to keep pace with the Yankees and Rays, and ensured a big series win ahead of today’s game…which looks like it might be a tough one.

Chris Sale’s having his best year in the majors, and has established himself as the AL’s preeminent starting pitcher. After consciously trying to induce more contact last year as a way to get deeper into games, he’s implemented Boston’s get-whiffs-with-high-fastballs plan and it’s worked incredibly well for him. His K% – which was still plenty good last season – is up by over 10 percentage points, to 36.4%. That figure leads baseball, which means he’s outpacing Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer in strikeouts despite the fact that those two get to face pitchers a few times a game. Not only that, but Sale’s working on a career-low walk rate, at just 4.7% (yes, his K-BB% leads baseball as well). Escaping Chicago’s small-ish park has meant that his HRs rate is down, too.

But wait, wouldn’t a lefty pitching half his games at Fenway be MORE likely to give up HRs thanks to the short LF dimensions? It doesn’t look like it – Boston’s actually giving up the fewest HRs of any park in the AL this year. Yes, Sale/Price/Pomeranz have something to do with that, but it’s still pretty remarkable. That gives rise to the one bit of hope about today’s game: Sale’s worse on the road, and Safeco’s now a much more HR-friendly spot than Fenway. Sale’s dominating right-handers like never before – they’ve got an OBP of just .235 this year – thanks to a wholesale change in how he attacks them. When he came up, there was nothing special about where he threw his fastball – it had elite movement and all, so being intentional about where to put it may not have been a huge priority. Now, his fastball comes in up and away to righties, and then he buries breaking balls down and in.

I talked about Andrew Moore learning from Drew Pomeranz, but Sale’s another great lesson in the importance of *how* to use one’s fastball. Of course, he throws nothing like Sale, so he can’t straight-up emulate the guy. Still, having a (different) plan should really help, as the natural movement on his fastball is already pretty remarkable. Of all pitchers who’ve thrown at least 100 pitches this year, Moore’s vertical ‘rise’ ranks 4th in baseball. Fellow rookie Jacob Faria (of the Rays) is 3rd, and like Moore, throws in the low 90s. Faria’s K rate is double Moore’s, and he’s gotten great results in his first few MLB starts. The king of fastball “rise” – and a guy who’s fought serious HR problems at times – is Marco Estrada, who throws even slower than Moore. There are precedents here, and guys who’ve shown this overall skill set can work. But what Moore’s done in his first 5 starts hasn’t quite worked, and it’s time to make some changes.

1: Segura, SS
2: Gamel, LF
3: Cruz, DH
4: Valencia, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Heredia, CF
7: Haniger, RF
8: Ruiz, C
9: Danny Espinosa, 2B
SP: Moore

Speaking of guys who need to make some changes, welcome to the line-up, Danny Espinosa. Shawn O’Malley’s rehabbing in AA at the moment, so we’ll see if Espinosa’s just keeping a seat warm, or if they’re intrigued enough by his power/defense profile to keep him around as an Edgar project.

A day after Anthony Misiewicz’s 8 shutout IP earned him the M’s MiLB pitching line of the day, Lindsey Caughel nearly matched it, tossing 7 shutout IP against NW Arkansas in a 5-0 win. Caughel’s peripherals were even better, actually, as he K’d 7 and walked 0, giving up just 3 hits. Batting line will go to Everett’s Eugene Helder. The Aruban 2nd baseman went 4-5 with a 2B and a 3B.


2 Responses to “Game 103, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. mrakbaseball on July 26th, 2017 3:55 pm

    April Mitch Haniger was fun though.

  2. Westside guy on July 26th, 2017 10:04 pm

    Chris Sale is a very good pitcher.

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