Game 24, Mariners at Indians

marc w · April 26, 2018 at 2:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Mike Clevinger, 3:10pm

Another day, another really odd start time for a baseball game.

After yet another series win, the M’s head into Cleveland with a bit of confidence. They’ve won every series save one, and they’ve already beaten Cleveland 2 of 3 to open the season. For most of the first month, Cleveland’s offense was undetectable. Their pitching was clear, and still amazing, but they were having scoring, and so they languished below .500 for a while. They’re up at 13-9 now, a reflection, in part, on the first stirrings of life from that offense, and the weakening of the almost comical BABIP woes they had. To be clear: they still have woes, and their offense is still something of an anchor on another historically good staff, but it’s a weakness they can work with. Sort by BABIP and the Indians are still dead last, and last by a mile; the gap between the Indians in 30th and the Orioles in 29th is the same as the gap between the Orioles and the White Sox in 12th. They’re dealing with slow starts from everyone from Yonder Alonso to Francisco Lindor to Edwin Encarnacion to Jason Kipnis (whose slump is particularly virulent), but they still lead the Central.

Part of that has to do with the relative weakness of the Central, but a part of it is their brilliant pitching staff. The Indians are famous for missing bats, and they’re still doing that. But with guys like Trevor Bauer and today’s starter, Mike Clevinger, the rotation behind Corey Kluber seemed to allow too many walks. They seem to have fixed that; they’re now tied with the A’s for the lowest walk rate in baseball. Meanwhile, Clevinger’s the poster boy for improved contact management. I’m always a bit hesitant to ascribe skill to this, but he was middle of the pack in terms of his contact-allowed last year, and is now clearly in the top echelon, with a low average exit velocity and low velocities for fly balls/line drives. That’s helped the staff make up for the loss of the injured Danny Salazar, and the expected regression from Corey Kluber, who pitched most of the second half of 2017 on a historically great run.

Clevinger’s always been a four pitch guy, with a fastball around 93-94, a good change-up, and then a slider and curve. The righties see a bunch of sliders, while the lefties get the change. Add it up, and he’s essentially the same guy against both – he has essentially no platoon splits. Even by FIP, there’s essentially no change at all. The M’s need to focus on putting out their best line-up, and not tailoring it to Clevinger’s weaknesses….and that’s what they can now do, as Ryon Healy’s been activated from the DL, while the M’s optioned Dan Vogelbach to AAA.

That move, like the Heredia option, removes the ability (temptation?) to platoon, as the M’s now don’t have a lefty behind the right-handed Healy, just like they don’t have a righty behind their two lefty OFs, Ichiro and Ben Gamel. They sent Heredia down because they were facing a bunch of righties in a row, but curiously, that reasoning didn’t come up today. Instead, they’re giving the job over to Healy (which, admittedly, was the original plan), and instructing him he needs to produce to keep it. Vogelbach’s struggles probably made the decision easier, too.

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

Paxton’s been giving up a bit more hard contact this year, as reflected in his slightly elevated HR rate and the fact he’s given up 11 extra-base hits in 25 2/3 IP. He’s alternated between really good outings, and some forgettable ones, and of course, one of those not-so-hot games came against this line-up in Seattle. This’d be a good time for an ace-level start.


3 Responses to “Game 24, Mariners at Indians”

  1. heyoka on April 26th, 2018 5:31 pm

    Snapping defeat from the jaws of victory.

  2. mrakbaseball on April 26th, 2018 5:59 pm

    Kind of hard to justify keeping Rzepczynski on the roster. Nice win though. Cano should have had a homer .

  3. Sowulo on April 27th, 2018 12:25 am

    He did. But the replay officials didn’t see it that way. They said it hit the yellow line. That yellow is soft. if the ball hit that we could have seen some compression distortion. Just a really bad call.

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