Game 145, Mariners at Rangers – There’s Always Next Year

marc w · September 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Miguel Gonzalez, 5:05pm

Whoa, wait, Miguel Gonzalez is on the Rangers now? He’s made one start for the club, which is to be expected as he pitched – for the White Sox – on the waiver trade deadline of August 31st. The Rangers, like a few other teams, probably had to rethink things during August as they stumbled back into the race for the 2nd wildcard after dealing ace Yu Darvish to the Rangers.

Gonzalez is still the same fly-balling righty we got to know from his days with the Orioles – he still throws a rising four-seam fastball at 91-92, doesn’t miss a ton of bats, and gives up a fair number of home runs as a result. It’s somewhat odd that he’s been so consistent in ground ball rate after developing a sinker and throwing it much more than he used to. Despite that new pitch, his GB% is still within a percentage point of his career average. His HRs-allowed are more volatile, of course, but given his fly-balling ways, he’s managed to run a low BABIP and thus post better ERA’s than his FIP would predict.

This is essentially what we’d like to see out of Andrew Moore, and Moore showed some encouraging signs last night. He had 7 strikeouts, and *all* of them came on fastballs. Moore’s got even more rise on his fastball than Gonzalez, and that should help him get a couple more whiffs on the pitch. Of course, Gonzalez also has a decent slider and a splitter, while Moore’s secondaries are still works in progress. His change-up looked better last night, and he certainly threw it often, but his fastball seems like his putaway pitch, which is unusual. Former Reds starter and current Dodger reliever Tony Cingrani struck out staggering numbers of minor league batters with a fastball that sat at 91 and that he threw over 80-90% of the time. It was remarkable, and it still pretty much is – he’s been in the majors full time (pretty much) since 2013, and he’s still a one-pitch, low-velo fastball guy. As impressive as that is, it’s not been a great career, and he obviously got bumped from the rotation along the way. His 2013 season is essentially what we’d all hope to see from Moore someday, while his 2014+15 seems more like Moore’s season line from this year. Moore’s fastball is an interesting one, and last night was his most successful usage of it yet. But it still got dinged for a home run, and thus Moore needs better secondaries. The change is the furthest along, and it’s great to see his growing confidence in it, but I’d love to see his slider improve. The curve – again, it kind of reminds me of Cingrani’s for its lack of vertical movement – may be a lost cause. Still, that performance will likely earn Moore another shot to start, just as Marco Gonzales’ great long relief game made tonight’s start possible.

It certainly didn’t hurt him in his last outing, but Gonzales seems to have a very different release point for his fastball than his change or breaking balls. Here’s his release point from the 2nd against Oakland:
Spot the fastballs!
There’s a big grouping of pitches represented by the black squares around 2′ to the first base side. Then, there’s a smudge of yellow and blue, over 2.5′ towards first. The change is the furthest away, and the fastball grouping is distinct; there’s zero overlap between fastball and non-fastball. Gonzales has always had somewhat distinct release points, but it looked more like a continuous blob as opposed to two distinct groups. Here’s a start of his from 2014:
gonz release 14

So does this matter? I’m not sure how much, but you’d think it’s something hitters would pick up on. We’re talking a few inches here, so it’s not like it’s going to be as obvious to a hitter as it is in those tidy graphs, but hitters, hitting coaches, and other personnel using technology (apple watches!) get paid to turn observations into actionable information, so I bet at least some are taking advantage.

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

Jarrod Dyson’s having surgery to repair a sports hernia, so he’s done for the year and may have just played his last game in an M’s uniform. That, coupled with last night’s loss, would certainly seem to put an end to this year’s playoff race. No, they’re not eliminated yet, but the drop from Dyson to Heredia defensively is pretty steep, and while the rotation’s looking better than it has in a while – particularly with Paxton/Felix ready to return on this road trip, there just isn’t enough time to track down the Twins/Angels. Assuming Dyson goes elsewhere, the M’s have some shopping to do in the offseason to build another contending team. They’ll need a 1B, as Alonso/Valencia can walk, and they may need another true CF. Would Dyson take a cheap extension to stay, given that his value may be hurt by the way his 2017 season ended? Either way, the M’s will probably be buyers as they can fairly easily contend for the wild card next year in Cruz’s final year in Seattle. It gets more interesting after that, when the M’s either need to have developed more star-caliber players (Kyle Lewis?) or they’ll need to spend even more in free agency. The make up of the club and contracts make it a pretty easy decision to essentially stay the course for 2018, but 2019 could look very different.


2 Responses to “Game 145, Mariners at Rangers – There’s Always Next Year”

  1. ndevale on September 12th, 2017 6:49 pm

    Living dead versus Un-dead
    We approached the corpse of the 2017 Seattle Mariners, esq., and conducted the following, semi-structured interview and survey of their collective demise and their self-ascribed roles.
    -Nelson Cruz – Living Dead or Un-Dead?
    Bueno, ya que me sepultaron antes de firmar el ultimo contrato, creo que merezco…UNDEAD!
    Ben Gamel – Living Dead or Un-Dead? BABIP Brains Acquired Brains Ingested Permanently ALL DAY ZOMBIE!
    Kyle Seager – An older brother should eat his younger brother’s brains before living in his shadow… ZOMBIE!
    James Paxton – The DL is HELL I AM COMING BACK
    King Felix – Los reportes de mi difuncion estan muy adelantadas y exageradas.
    Mike Zunino – How close to good can I be without being chosen sacrificial lamb?
    Robinson Cano – Mira que pregunta es eso si ya ando con Wagner, Speaker, Vlad D, Musial!

  2. LongDistance on September 13th, 2017 1:43 am

    There’s Always Next Year. Could be the effing team motto.

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