Game 136, Athletics at Mariners – Roster Moves and Lookout Landing Night

marc w · September 2, 2017 at 3:55 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yovani Gallardo vs. Jharel Cotton, 6:10pm

As mentioned yesterday, the A’s offense hasn’t been too bad. They’re not great defensively, but they’ve hit the ball hard, and they’re doing it with a lot of homegrown young talent. The A’s are also 18 games under .500, which tells you something about their pitching staff. Sonny Gray was fine, but in a lost season, the A’s shipped him to New York to restock their farm system. Kendall Graveman started the year on fire, then got hurt and hasn’t been the same since. Andrew Triggs got off to a decent start, then needed hip surgery and was gone for the year. Jesse Hahn’s FIP is right where it was when he was an effective starter for Oakland back in 2015, but his ERA most certainly is not. Sean Manaea also started well, but, last night excepted, has been awful down the stretch. But perhaps the biggest difference between what was expected and what’s been delivered is in Jharel Cotton’s stat line.

Cotton came over in the Rich Hill trade from the Dodgers a year ago, a year after rising from the single-A Midwest League to the Pacific Coast League. Last year, the change-up specialist pitched well for Nashville after the trade, and then made 5 starts for Oakland that opened a lot of eyes. He walked just 4 in those 5 starts, and used his screwball-like change (it’s thrown at 78 MPH, the same as his curveball) to post very low BABIP rates. All of that led to a very good ERA, and while his FIP was higher (thanks to 4 HRs allowed), it wasn’t problematic. The A’s seemed to have acquired a useful middle of the rotation piece who’d be decent for years without commanding much in salary. So far, so Oakland. But instead, Cotton’s regressed in every possible way, with a FIP and ERA both well over 5. His K%’s down, and his walk rate’s soared, meaning his K-BB% has been nearly halved. His HR rate’s climbed even further, and he’s been especially bad with men on base.

His change-up’s still his best pitch, but it’s looking quite a bit worse this year. Batters had 1 single on the pitch in 2016, but they’ve knocked 9 XBHs off of it this year, and are slugging .462 on it. Perhaps worse, the A’s are doing what they seemingly always do, and are directing him to throw more sinkers and cutters. Those have come at the expense of his rising four-seam fastball at 93-94 and his change. There’s nothing wrong, theoretically, with using a cutter more against same-handed bats, but righties have hit well against it, and his sinker’s clearly still a work in progress. With a huge gap in vertical movement and velocity between his four-seam and change, Cotton seemed well positioned to either get whiffs or mis-hit contact. I get not wanting to show too much of the change and allow batters to sit on it, but Cotton’s far from the only Athletic who’s been given a pitch mix overhaul with questionable goals and results. It’s possible that the ultra-slow change was something of a trick pitch, and once batters learned to recognize it, they could feast on it. It’s possible that they’ve seen something in him that would make a sinker-heavy approach work well. But I’m suspicious.

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

With Jarrod Dyson back and rosters expanding, the M’s have made a bunch of roster moves over the past 48 hours. Leonys Martin didn’t make it through waivers a second time, and he’s been acquired by the Cubs, who’ve already brought him up to Chicago. The M’s continual shuffling of pitchers has resulted in a lot of outright assignments, as Christian Bergman was just outrighted for at least the second time. The M’s also tried to slip Sam Gaviglio through waivers, but like Martin, he didn’t make it; he’s been acquired by Kansas City.

Tacoma’s season ends on Monday, so the M’s will probably call up a few more players on Tuesday, but for today, they’ve brought up C Mike Marjama and RP Ryan Garton, both picked up in a late summer trade with Tampa, SP Andrew Moore (who’ll work out of the pen for now), and RP Shae Simmons, the intriguing reliever they got from Atlanta in the offseason and who was shut down in spring training. David Phelps is on the 10-day DL with an impingement in his elbow, which, I have to say, sounds really bad given it’s his second arm injury of the second half of the season.

Before the game tonight, the M’s are hosting Lookout Landing night with the current staff of the venerable M’s blog along with some previous writers who’ve gone on to other gigs. Nathan Bishop now writes over at Dome and Bedlam, while Colin O’Keefe and Jose Rivera were picked up by the Mariners themselves. GM Jerry Dipoto’s doing a Q and A so go ask some tough questions!


4 Responses to “Game 136, Athletics at Mariners – Roster Moves and Lookout Landing Night”

  1. Notfromboise on September 2nd, 2017 6:50 pm

    Bummer about losing Leonys Martin like that.

    Even more of a bummer watching Gallandro rack up 60 pitches over 2 innings.

  2. mrakbaseball on September 2nd, 2017 7:21 pm

    Hopefully baseball will establish a rule limiting the active roster to 25 players a game. Games are already played at such a sluggish pace with endless pitching changes and 8-man bullpens before roster expansion in September. Teams can still call up players, but please limit the game day roster at 25.

  3. Grayfox3d on September 2nd, 2017 7:28 pm

    Turn on the game to a Matt Joyce home run… turning the game back off now.

  4. Grayfox3d on September 2nd, 2017 9:53 pm

    yay umm Haniger? nah SEGURA!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.