Game 12, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · April 14, 2018 at 5:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Kendall Graveman, 6:10pm

After pulling away from the A’s late, the M’s face Kendall Graveman today under the roof at Safeco. America’s Large Adult Son hit his first home run to give the M’s some breathing room, and with Ryon Healy coming back soon, that’s good to see: Vogelbach needs to separate himself a bit and show that he can add value with his bat. He’s had a slow start after a torrid spring, but a 1B position that’s within shouting distance of league average would be huge for an M’s offense that’s probably gotten used to black holes over there.

Soooo, Kendall Graveman. I’ve mentioned it before, but there are a few pitchers that I seem to have to write about all the time. If a starter’s healthy and stays in the division for 3-4 years, the M’s face him 3-4-5 times a year, and that means I need to figure out something to say 3-4-5 times a year. Thankfully for me, Graveman’s changed rather dramatically since we first started seeing him midway through 2015. At that time, he was a low-spin, pitch-to-contact sinkerballer. He’d known about spin rate since college, as Mississippi state had a trackman unit, and he learned his low-spin sinker was great at getting ground balls. He threw 91 or so, and mixed in a cutter, curve and change, all with sink.

In 2016, he was similar, but he’d gained a tick or two on his fastball, and now averaged more like 93 with his fastballs. That boost in velo helped his spin, which bumped up to average, or a touch beyond. Far from reducing his ground balls, the extra velo made him more effective overall, and his GB% went from 50% to about 52%. His K rate dipped, but then it was never all that great to begin with, and thus not a big part of his game.

Last year, the same trends continued: suddenly, he could sit at 94, and touch 96-97. His spin rate was way above average, and he was off to a great start before being sidelined with an injury. Even though he was quite a bit worse after his return, he still posted a decent season, albeit an incomplete one. Thus far in 2018? Yep, same thing. He’s now sitting at 95 (and remember, pitcher velocity is down a MPH or two in April compared to later in the year. No, he’s still not able to miss bats, but this is a pretty remarkable thing. Of course, that lack of K’s limits his upside. Even though he’s now well above average in speed and spin, he’s not going to be a great (or even good) pitcher without strikeouts.

Still, he’ll improve from his first couple of starts in 2018 – he’s your classic “high floor” arm. Graveman’s sinker and cutter work surprisingly well to left-handed bats, which helps make up for the fact that they’re bafflingly mediocre against righties.

1: Gordon, CF
2: Segura, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Haniger, RF
7: Vogelbach, 1B
8: Ichiroooo, LF
9: Freitas, C
SP: Gonzales

Welcome back, Nelly Cruz! To make room for the return of Cruz, the M’s optioned Casey Lawrence back to AAA. Ben Gamel’s still in Tacoma, and may return next week. According to Ryan Divish (quoting Scott Servais), Gamel’s perfectly healthy – it’s just that the M’s are waiting until after they face some tough lefties to bring him back so he doesn’t get activated only to sit on the bench. The fact that this buys some time while they figure out what the corresponding move should be probably doesn’t hurt, either.

Tyler Herb and Rob Whalen matched each other for 6 IP yesterday; both gave up 2 runs in the first, and then both settled into a groove, getting through the next 5 innings without giving up another run. They each ended with 6 Ks. Shawn Armstrong and Erik Goeddel dominated the rest of the way, totaling 5 Ks in 3 IP, and thus the Rainiers emerged with a 3-2 win. Max Povse starts today.

Arkansas doubled up San Antonio, 8-4. Beau Amaral had 4 hits and 4 RBI, while Chris Mariscal homered – these performances helped balance out the red-hot Josh Naylor who hit his 6th dinger of the year for the Missions. Johendi Jiminian wasn’t as sharp this time, throwing 4 IP of 2-R ball, and giving up 2 dingers (including Naylor’s). The fascinating relief prospect Robert Stock finished things up for SA, giving up Mariscal’s HR; Stock was a blue-chip C recruit about 10 years ago, and enrolled early at USC, but had an up and down career in the Pac12. Drafted in 2009 by St. Louis, he played pro ball as a catcher for 3 or so years, before being moved to the mound in 2012. Command problems looked like they’d spell the end of that experiment, and he found himself without a team for a while. Training at Driveline seems to have helped his velo; we’ll see how his control looks by the end of the year – I’m rooting for the guy. Nathan Bannister faces off with Jerry Keel tonight.

Modesto edged Visalia 4-3 in 10 innings. The Rawhide scored a run in their half of the 10th, only to watch the Nuts walk it off in the bottom – we’ll see a lot more high scoring innings now that the minors start extra innings with a runner on 2nd. Evan White went 1-5, and the Nuts had 14 strikeouts to only 2 BBs, but somehow kept it close – it helped that their pitchers racked up 12 Ks and only gave up 2 walks themselves. Darren McCaughan takes the mound for Modesto tonight.

Clinton shut out Cedar Rapids 2-0 behind Tommy Romero, who went 6 IP, giving up just 2 hits and striking out *8*. Ariel Sandoval continued his hot start with a double. Clinton’s game today was rained out.


35 Responses to “Game 12, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:03 pm

    Just coming in… so far, so good. Mariners are up 3-0 in the top of the third.

  2. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:08 pm

    Hurry back, Mike Zunino. I think he’d make that play Freitas bobbled.

    … and it looks like the Mariners are gonna get a break with a ground rule double. Guys now on second and third, but still 3-0 for the moment.

  3. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:10 pm

    Okay, the A’s got the two runs back.

  4. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 7:12 pm

    Well of course they get the run back, then give up two immediately with 2 outs remaining–then give up a 3rd.

  5. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:13 pm

    Now it’s tied. The A’s seem to have solved Gonzales.

    Hello Steve.

  6. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:19 pm

    Nice to have Nellie back!

  7. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:22 pm

    Nice to see Seager getting some hits lately, as well.

  8. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 7:25 pm

    Well now, I may have been worried for nothing.

  9. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 7:28 pm

    Vogelbach with strike 3 on a fastball down the middle. Strike two came on a premeditated guess-swing.

    Belated hello, Westy!

  10. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 7:33 pm

    Seattle’s 1-6 hitters each have an OPS of .814 or higher.

  11. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 7:43 pm

    I swear, the 2 in “32” on Marco’s back is slightly lower than the 3.

    That would explain the run he just gave up.

  12. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:12 pm

    I was hoping to see Gonzales’ uniform after your comment, Steve – but alas, they pulled him before I could look!

  13. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:14 pm

    Sounds like the Twins could use a Safeco-esque roof… they had another snow-out today.

  14. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:15 pm


  15. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 8:15 pm

    Haniger is terrorist.

  16. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:20 pm

    Haha, Vogelbach is fun to watch run.

    … not that I wouldn’t be funnier.

  17. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:22 pm

    Sweet! Love to see Dee Gordon run.

  18. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:23 pm

    Uh oh, why was Gordon heading to the dugout?

  19. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 8:23 pm

    It really looked like Dee was going to try to check his swing, but failed perfectly.

  20. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:28 pm

    Okay, I could swear they went to (previous) commercial with a shot of Gordon heading into the dugout – but obviously not.

  21. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:29 pm

    He seems to get a fair bit of those sorts of hits, Steve. It’s like he makes bad contact, but it works for him somehow.

  22. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 8:35 pm

    Yeah, Gordon can get away with that as long as he has his speed.

  23. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 8:39 pm

    Studying offensive numbers this year between innings and it’s a tad depressing (and mystifying) to see what LA has done. They started the day with as many runs as they have strike outs and had yet to get caught stealing, though they’ve had considerably weaker competition.

    That said, Seattle’s held it’s own without Cruz and Zunino. 5th in the league in runs scored per game. That will likely change after tonight.

  24. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 8:43 pm


  25. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 9:07 pm

    Holy Crap, Vogelbach hit that a long ways!!

  26. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 9:07 pm

    Wow. Just, wow!

  27. mrakbaseball on April 14th, 2018 9:08 pm

    Vogelbach Wally Pipping Healy?

  28. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 9:09 pm

    I really want to see the estimate of the distance there.

  29. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 9:09 pm

    Vogelbach does actually have power–just in case anyone was wondering.

    I was in the middle of a comment suggesting it would be fun to see him tap one down the 3B line given the extreme shift.


  30. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 9:10 pm


  31. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 9:12 pm

    433 seems low for some reason.

  32. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 9:20 pm

    It does.

    Too bad Robbie couldn’t tack on a couple of more.

  33. stevemotivateir on April 14th, 2018 9:23 pm

    Good to see Nicasio’s velocity back up.

    Edit: Spoke too soon. Damn those dingers.

  34. Westside guy on April 14th, 2018 9:46 pm

    Woo hoo! Mariners win a 10-8 pitcher’s duel!

    It is fun to watch the homers though.

  35. mrakbaseball on April 14th, 2018 10:07 pm

    Regarding the 433′ figure on Vogelbach’s homer into the suites level, Mo Vaughn hit a homer into the upper deck, the 4th deck, in 1999, and the distance was measured at 441′.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.