Game 144, Mariners at Rangers – Org Churn

marc w · September 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ariel Miranda vs. Cole Hamels, 5:05pm

It’s pretty simple: the M’s currently sit in 4th place in the AL West, and to have any shot at the 2nd wildcard, they need to finish 2nd. They just took a series from the Angels, the team currently occupying 2nd place, but they remain 2 games behind them. Today, they begin a series against Texas, the team currently in 3rd, and just a half game ahead of the M’s. The M’s need to win the series, because time’s running out and they really need to start passing some teams. The fact that the 2nd wildcard is still pretty open is great, and being within a handful of games mattered how the M’s viewed their playoff odds and their club in general a month or two ago. Now, it’s not enough. There just aren’t enough games left.

Today the M’s activated pitcher Ryan Weber from the 60-day DL and outrighted him to Tacoma. This is what the M’s did with Christian Bergman on the 1st of the month, and it essentially means Weber’s tenure in the org is over. They picked Weber up on a waiver claim from the Braves, as he seemed to offer decent depth, given his experience both as a starter and a reliever. Weber didn’t disappoint; after an outing or two as a reliever, he moved into the Rainiers rotation in mid-April and proceeded to absolutely dominate, running an ERA of 0.85 over 31+ innings, which earned him a call-up in May. He blew his arm out 3 innings into his M’s career, and has been on the DL until today. I bring it up because that means that 4 of the Rainiers’ primary April starters have been DFAd – Weber, Sam Gaviglio, Christian Bergman, and Chris Heston. The other two, Chase de Jong and Dylan Unsworth ended up demoted to AA, and only de Jong is on the 40-man. Of the Rainiers 9 opening day relievers, only Emilio Pagan and Tony Zych are still in the org, and Zych was only in Tacoma on a rehab assignment. The sheer number of DFAs, waiver claims and minor league transactions this year has been staggering, and while some of that comes with the territory, the degree of attrition and replacement this year feels well nigh unprecedented. The Rainiers used 54 pitchers this year. Texas’ club used fewer than 40. Beyond the churn, though, I think I have *less* of a sense of how to prioritize the club’s pitching depth. This wasn’t throwing a bunch of prospect spaghetti at the wall and seeing who sticks. This was throwing minor league free agents at the wall, and even if they stuck, those guys can just go elsewhere. The M’s *had* to rely on minor league vets because they didn’t have a ton of homegrown players. Now, having sent off pretty much every remaining M’s-drafted player, it’s not clear where they go from here. They’re going to need to do it again next year just to fill out rosters, so get ready for the M’s to be active on the waiver wire and in minor league free agency. That’s…fine, I guess, but there’s no way to spin this season as anything but a failure in terms of pitching development overall.

There have been so many stunning stat lines this year from guys with essentially zero power who’ve knocked a bunch of home runs and pushed their SLG% way up. Jake Marisnick, Chris Taylor, the list goes on. We saw Elvis Andrus run an ISO far beyond his career averages last year, but you still wouldn’t call him a slugger or anything – he slashed .302/.362/.439, which is a very good season for an up-the-middle defender, and he posted his career high in HRs with 8. So, this year, he’s slashing .306/.348/.497. He’s sitting on 20 HRs and counting, and could tip over the .500 mark in SLG% by the end of this series (or game). He went from a bad hitter, to someone posting Jean Segura-in-2017 last year, and now he’s posting Segura’s 2016 slash line. It’s remarkable, and it’s remarkably frustrating as an M’s fan. Andrus in 2015 hit .257/.309/.357, and in a few years is within a few percent of Kyle Seager’s *best* batting season.

Cole Hamels had a velocity spike from about 2014-16, where he went from 92 on his fastball to nearly 94, but that seems to have run its course now. He’s back at 92, so the big change from his heyday with the Phillies is that he’s now throwing a sinker a lot more. His usage has gone from about 5% to over 20% these days, so while he’s still known mostly for his change and to a lesser extent his cutter, he’s got two different fastballs that he features pretty often. Lefties see the pitch a lot more, and it’s been effective against them. His change is still quite good, but he’s run normal platoon splits for several years. They’re even for his career, but righties have hit him a bit better than lefties over the past 3-5 years, as you’d expect.

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

Modesto finished off Stockton to sweep their first round series in the California League playoffs, so they’ll kick off the championship series against Lancaster on Tuesday. Lancaster’s the Astros affiliate, and they’re led by Cal League batting champ Yonathan Daza, who hit .341/.376/.466 on the year and went 10-18 in their playoff series win over Rancho Cucamonga.


5 Responses to “Game 144, Mariners at Rangers – Org Churn”

  1. Longgeorge1 on September 11th, 2017 6:00 pm

    Ugly Early

  2. mrakbaseball on September 11th, 2017 6:11 pm

    At least Mitch Haniger believes it’s April again

  3. Grayfox3d on September 11th, 2017 6:27 pm

    Well it will be nice to see what Felix and Paxton have to offer. Not expecting much from Felix… I love the guy but unless he gets a late career CC Sabathia type resurgence, it’s gonna be tough to watch him pitch.

  4. stevemotivateir on September 11th, 2017 7:22 pm

    You meant Dylan Overton, I assume, rather than Dylan Unsworth.

  5. mrakbaseball on September 11th, 2017 8:15 pm

    James Paxton turns 29 in December and assuming he makes his start later this week, that will be the first time he makes more than 20 starts in a season. Going forward, it’s obviously frustrating the de facto ace simply cannot endure anything close to pitching a full season.

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