Game 124, Mariners at Rays – Struggling Pitcher vs. Struggling Line-up

marc w · August 19, 2017 at 1:41 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Jake Odorizzi, 3:10pm

The M’s win last night pushed them closer to the 2nd wildcard, and continued a dreadful string for the Rays, who seemed to have the inside track at the wildcard a few weeks back. There’s really no mystery as to what’s gone wrong: the Rays have simply stopped hitting. In the 2nd half of the year, the Rays wRC+ is just 73, far and away the worst in MLB. Their team OBP in just .290 over that stretch, and the team that hit the 3rd-most dingers in the AL in the first half have the fewest in the second. Their big deadline acquisition, Lucas Duda, has been fine. The problem’s widespread among the rest of the Rays’ line-up. Brad Miller’s in a deep freeze, as was Tim Beckham, who seemed to snap out of it upon being shipped to Baltimore. Corey Dickerson, Adeiny Hechevarria, Logan Morrison, Mallex Smith – there are very few signs of life from 1-9. As a group, they’re better than their current form, as their first half form illustrates. But it’s got to be frustrating that the Rays positioned themselves really well to make a run and then fall into a team-wide slump like this one.

The M’s offense hasn’t been great themselves; Nelson Cruz’s hot streak has coincided some poor stretches for others, and thus the M’s offense is slightly below average in the 2nd half. The M’s pitching hasn’t been all that great either, thanks to their long-standing dinger issues, but they’ve been much better in pure strikeout and walk terms. It’s funny – the M’s and Rays pitchers have looked eerily similar since the trade deadline, with solid K rates and low walk rates. Both have had HR troubles, with the M’s predictably giving up more, and both have been GOOD at turning balls in play into outs (and thus both have ERAs below their FIPs). But the Rays offense has absolutely killed them while the M’s have been blessed by the sequencing fairy and have been a solid team despite a slightly worse than average offense AND slightly worse than average pitching.

Speaking of slumps, Ariel Miranda knows the feeling well. After being one of the M’s most unlikely heroes through June, he’s faltered badly since then. His last win and last quality start came on June 30th, and his RA/9 is 7.71 since then. The big problem, as we’ve talked about ad nauseum, has been the longball, as Miranda’s yielded the 2nd-most in baseball. As Bob Dutton’s preview notes, Jake Odorizzi’s been just as bad, as his HR/9 is actually the worst in the league (he just hasn’t pitched as many innings as Miranda). For the longest time, Odorizzi’s secret weapon has been his reverse platoon splits. Thanks to a great splitter – a pitch he throws about twice as often to lefties – he’s kept the ball in the ballpark and generally stymied left-handers. Righties have always been tougher for the right-handed Odorizzi, as his cutter’s not been great, and he doesn’t seem to trust his slider too much. He throws his splitter to righties as well, but it’s not quite as effective, and the bigger issue is that righties tee off on his fastball. Add it up, and his FIP is 1.5 runs higher against righties over his career. Those reverse splits are still there in 2017, but the ball’s just flown off of everyone’s bat, and thus he’s now giving up plenty of dingers to lefties…it’s just that righties are hitting even more.

This would be an interesting test of the M’s line-up construction, but as has happened far too often, injuries have made that impossible. Mitch Haniger’s back with the club after missing time after taking a Jacob DeGrom fastball in the face, but the M’s have lost CF Jarrod Dyson to a groin injury. The M’s also recalled Casey Lawrence, sending Sam Gaviglio back to Tacoma.

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

Alonso 2nd against Odorizzi? At least Dyson’s injury forces Heredia in there, and Haniger’s return helps the right-handedness of the line-up as well. Good match-up for Nellie Cruz who’s never homered off of Odorizzi. Let’s see if that changes today.


4 Responses to “Game 124, Mariners at Rays – Struggling Pitcher vs. Struggling Line-up”

  1. heyoka on August 19th, 2017 5:05 pm

    Nelson Cruz, the ball he will abuse.

  2. mrakbaseball on August 19th, 2017 6:34 pm

    Still unbeaten vs the Rays this season.

  3. mksh21 on August 20th, 2017 6:27 am

    Love it. I can’t quit them. One more today SHOULD effectively bounce the Rays out of the picture I would hope. Man that Angels series still hurts. Hopefully Haniger can smack the ball around for a few weeks before getting hit in the face again.

  4. eddieranch on August 20th, 2017 8:10 pm

    @mrakbaseball I believe you did what they used to call “jinxed them,” though don’t know what the young’uns call it.

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