Game 47, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · May 22, 2018 at 5:02 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Leake vs. Trevor Cahill, 7:05pm

The M’s are riding high after an unlikely series win against the Tigers. The offense wasn’t great in the series, but it had a brilliant sense of timing, and that was enough.

Now, the M’s take on the surging A’s, whose position players rank just ahead of the M’s thanks in part to better defending and a great walk rate. That said, the M’s have the superior batting line as they trade a bunch of walks for singles, and singles are simply better than walks. I think everyone assumed the A’s would have a decent line-up, but even through the struggles of Matt Olson and now Dustin Fowler, the fact that they’re able to crack the top 10 in baseball bodes well for them.

Still, the reason they’re now a couple of games over .500 is that they’ve figured out a way to pitch a little bit. Sean Manaea’s emergence has been big, but as the M’s know well, you can’t rely on a single pitcher and run away with the division/wild card. It certainly isn’t the result of steps forward from Kendall Graveman, who was demoted to AAA. Their oft-injured starters Brett Anderson and Andrew Triggs are, uh, injured as well. Instead, the rotation’s received big contributions from Daniel Mengden, who’s turning the clock back to the early 90s with his low-K, vanishingly-low-BB approach, and today’s starter, Trevor Cahill.

Cahill came up with the A’s as a cerebral, pitchability righty who overcame not-so-great strikeout and walk numbers by inducing ground balls and using his spacious park (and the old baseball) to avoid HRs. After moving to Arizona, he had a couple of solid years, but a couple of awful BABIP years combined with a stubbornly high walk rate forced him to bounce between teams as a frustratingly ineffective journeyman. By 2015, he’d lost his starting gig. That turned out to be a blessing, as he reinvented himself as a reliever with the Cubs. Though his walk rate was still high, his revamped change-up and curveball proved difficult to square up, and his K rate soared. He moved back to the rotation last year with San Diego, and his new higher velocity mostly stuck around – he’s now throwing harder than he did when he came up with Oakland years ago.

His change has been a revelation, and it’s helped him overcome his natural platoon splits. He was solid against lefties early on, though as a sinker/cutter guy, it wasn’t a shock when lefties started to torch him in 2014-15. His change has been effective in part due to its drop – it functions a lot like a splitter, in that it breaks armside but has sharp downward movement compared to his fastballs. His results with it weren’t great last year, but this year, it looks like he’s refined it: he’s throwing it harder, but it’s actually got more downward movement than in 2016 or 2017. The fact that it’s got more drop AND more velo suggests this is break and not just gravity acting on the thing. It’s been his best pitch by far this year, and it’s a big reason his GB% is above 60% while his K rate is over 28% – a level even Cahill probably never could imagine in his first go-round with Oakland.

All told, Oakland still scares me. Sure, the M’s figure to have a bit better pitching overall, but the emergence of Blake Treinen and an A’s development system that is cranking out complementary pieces means they’ll probably stick around on the fringes of the wild card hunt. Sure, a better A’s club can help out by beating the Angels every now and again, but the M’s need to rack up wins against the teams they *should* beat. The A’s were in that bucket before the year started, and to be fair, the M’s have fared pretty well against them. But the A’s aren’t an easy source of victories this year, and that may prove problematic as the M’s schedule gets harder and harder after a comparatively easy May. You can flip this around, too, if you want to be optimistic – and that’s a common feeling in M’s fandom right now. Beating the A’s is good practice for the M’s staff. Not every team out there is as toothless as the Cabrera-less Tigers, but then, the M’s pitchers have some room for error as the A’s starters aren’t world beaters. Wins are wins, and I’m perfectly happy if the M’s victories over the A’s are more indicative of a new, effective approach and not merely the result of beating up on inferior competition. The A’s scare me, and scare me going forward (until they tear it down in a few years), but at this stage, you’ve still got to give the slight advantage to Seattle.

1: Segura, SS
2: Heredia, CF
3: Haniger, RF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Healy, 1B
6: Vogelbach, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Gamel, LF
9: Beckham, 2B
SP: Leake

Soooo, the latest starter to hit the DL for the M’s is 2B Dee Gordon, who fractured his toe on Sunday – or perhaps aggravated an issue that first appeared after fouling a pitch off his foot back in Toronto. Dan Vogelbach has been recalled; he’s been great in AAA, hitting a HR on Sunday and slugging .711 over 83 ABs for Tacoma.

M’s affiliate starters include Chase De Jong, Darren McCaughan, and undrafted free agent Clay Chandler, who’s been pretty effective. Andrew Moore gave up 2 dingers last night, but got the win in Arkansas’ win over Tulsa. Christian Bergman was sharp against El Paso, but the R’s lost 4-2 when Luis Urias hit a 2R HR against Tacoma reliever Tucker Healy who I keep forgetting plays in the M’s org now. Clinton got an extra-inning, walk-off win against Burlington; closer Sam Delaplane got the win going 2 IP with 5 Ks, giving him 30 strikeouts in 18 IP on the year.


10 Responses to “Game 47, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. mksh21 on May 22nd, 2018 7:36 pm

    Hoping for the best with this lineup but sheesh all that is missing is Vidro or Miguel Cairo playing 1st base.

  2. mrakbaseball on May 22nd, 2018 8:22 pm

    Jack Wilson is still available to take over at second.

  3. eponymous coward on May 22nd, 2018 9:13 pm

    Except the difference is DiPoto actually has a 1B in the minors instead of Jack Z. or Bavasi’s best option of trying to play a middle infielder there.

  4. mksh21 on May 22nd, 2018 9:43 pm

    Romine and Beckham wow.. Well with Cano gone, Gordon hurt now Haniger out… Maybe its time to bring Ichiro back 🙂

  5. Sowulo on May 23rd, 2018 9:20 am

    I’d rather see Ichiro than Romine in Right Field. But Ichiro is not eligible to return in 2018.

  6. mksh21 on May 23rd, 2018 5:07 pm

    Oh really? He didn’t officially retire, but is there something I missed where he couldn’t be brought back to play?

  7. Sowulo on May 23rd, 2018 5:20 pm

    yes, because of the way he is off the 40 man roster. But I expect him on the field for the games in Tokyo opening the 2019 season. Then he will probably retire. But for now he is not retired yet…..

  8. mksh21 on May 23rd, 2018 5:22 pm

    ugh he must not have gone through waivers or something. He doesn’t look like a bad option at all right now. Either did Jose Bautista lol but too late as well. Hello Jason Werth?

  9. Sowulo on May 23rd, 2018 7:12 pm

    You mean the Jason Werth with the .197 batting average in AAA? ;P

  10. mksh21 on May 23rd, 2018 7:41 pm

    I’m trying to follow all levels and have never once in my life heard of John Andreoli. Our farm system is atrocious…. But once again in a position to win

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