Game 44, Tigers at Mariners

marc w · May 18, 2018 at 5:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Michael Fulmer, 7:10pm

Happy Felix Day. It’s…you don’t look happy. I know, I know, there are few things less conducive to optimism and a sunny disposition than an unreliable bullpen, and that’s the primary problem we’re facing right now. The M’s bullpen isn’t out and out *bad*” – they have the second-highest K rate in baseball. They’ve given up comparatively few hits given the innings they’ve logged. It’s just that they give up hits and walks in bunches, and when their offense isn’t running at peak efficiency, they can’t afford that.

The bullpen’s changed a bit this week. As I wrote about yesterday, they brought in Ryan Cook, who was fantastic in last night’s appearance. The other move – DFA’ing Erik Goeddel – is a bit harder to understand. Goeddel’s walked a few too many, but he had a K% over 30% in limited duty, and had been lights out in Tacoma before that. He was picked up by the bullpen-starved Dodgers, so you hada cool, under-the-radar signing that went about as well as it could’ve gone for the M’s…and now it’s meaningless. Again, the M’s have really bet on their ability to develop talent and to get more out of pitchers than their projections might assume. Whether it’s a mechanical tweak or repertoire change, the idea is that the M’s want to get the very most out of every member of the 40-man roster. James Paxton turned from frustrating enigma to the staff ace in part because of just this kind of instruction, so it’s not like this idea is bonkers; it can work, and HAS worked wonderfully for the Astros.

But the Goeddel DFA shows that they’re having serious problems connecting that development work with longer-term impact to the team. I’m not saying the M’s *wanted* to just kick Goeddel to the curb after a handful of pretty good appearances. I’m saying they didn’t do a whole lot to prevent this from happening. In order to develop pitchers like Goeddel, they’ve got to stay in the system. Bringing up an out-of-options player for a few games in May is nice, but it’d be nicer if they had a plan to help Goeddel get even better. This can’t happen if he was DFA’d just because they needed a fresher arm or because they didn’t have 25-man space. At some point, the M’s will need another fresh arm, and may turn to Shawn Armstrong, whom they got from Cleveland in the off-season. He too is out of options, and so we could see this same pattern repeat itself, which has ramifications down the affiliates. Goeddel was the R’s closer in April; they promoted Cook to that role when Goeddel went north. With Cook in Seattle, Armstrong could take the role (he’s got a save already). But if he’s ever called up, the odds are decent that the M’s *and Rainiers* will lose him if they ever need to swap out arms.

The M’s do not have the talent that Houston has, and probably don’t have the overall talent the Angels have. To compete, they really DO need to get more out of each player than their rivals. This strategy (or lack thereof) makes that impossible. Erik Goeddel – or Ryan Cook or Dan Altavilla or Casey Lawrence or whoever – will not make or break this team. Still, this wastefulness can’t coexist with a development-based strategy, not when so much of their pitching depth was moved for other things.

Felix is having his worst season by far, and it’s getting a bit concerning. His change gives him an option against lefties, but platoon splits aren’t really the problem – everyone’s just hitting him really hard. If those hits find gloves, he can get through, and it’s nice to see his K rate rebound a bit. But…man, we’re not really seeing a Verlander-style career bounce, are we? Still love you, King Felix.

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

Welcome back, Nellie. It is really, really good to see him back in the clean-up spot. The Tigers get a player back from injury today too: former M’s CF Leonys Martin, who’d been on the 10-day DL.

Pete Kozma is batting *2nd* for the Tigers. How the hell are the M’s 1-3 against these guys?


4 Responses to “Game 44, Tigers at Mariners”

  1. Grayfox3d on May 18th, 2018 7:25 pm

    2 outs into the game and it already looks out of reach… C’mon Felix, this is sad.

  2. mrakbaseball on May 18th, 2018 9:42 pm

    Wow, Nicasio actually pitched a scoreless inning. Incredible.

  3. Sowulo on May 18th, 2018 10:07 pm

    After sleepwalking through the first 6 innings, they finally woke up and acted like they were ballplayers. Glad to get the win….

  4. Jake on May 19th, 2018 2:22 pm

    And so it begins…Tyler O’Neill with his first homerun.

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