Game 80, Mariners at Orioles

marc w · June 26, 2018 at 4:09 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Kevin Gausman, 4:05pm

We’re about ready to draw the first half of the season to a close, and it’s gone just about as well as anyone could’ve dreamed. How the M’s close is still to be determined, but their competition has fallen away in recent days, as the Angels – beset by injuries and whatever the hell happened to Kole Calhoun – look completely ordinary and nothing like the team that started off the season looking like a true powerhouse. The Orioles, meanwhile, are a team in transition, or more accurately, a team in transition that simply hasn’t started transitioning yet.

If they do, as expected, start to move players in July, I wonder what they could get for Kevin Gausman? Gausman doesn’t have tons of team control left, as he’ll be in his final year of arbitration in 2019, but he’s a durable starter whose fastball averages 94+ – a guy with a very good splitter and at least the makings of a decent slider, even if the slider hasn’t been great in actual baseball games. If you squint, you see why this was the #4 overall pick: great stuff, no huge injury or control issues, tons of potential.

But you can flip that around, too. At 27, he’s been around for years, and shows some signs of being on the down slope of his career. His velocity has dropped each year since 2015. He’s had a few years – like 2016 and 2014 – that showed flashes of potential, but while he’s demonstrated some admirable consistency, he’s settling in as more of a tantalizing #4 (on a good team) than an ace. A team getting him may only have him for a year, and you don’t know if you’re getting a good Gausman year or a not-great-not-terrible one.

Still, you can imagine that teams with really top-shelf pitching development programs might see him as a poor man’s Gerrit Cole/Charlie Morton. Get that velo back to 96, tweak the slider, up the splitter usage (which, to be fair, he’s doing this year) and you might have yourself something more than Baltimore ever saw, and let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be the first time THAT happened. Gausman’s long battled home run problems, and a team in a more favorable park might assume that they could mitigate that even without newfangled player development.

James Paxton is the M’s best example of how player development can transform a pitcher, though to be fair, the frustration M’s fans had with him wasn’t due to his results so much as his endless injury woes. Still, after his transformation in 2016, Paxton has settled in as the ace of the team and clearly one of the most talented hurlers in the league. All of that said, it’s a bit frustrating that his actual runs-allowed number continues to lag his excellent fielding-independent numbers. It’s also weird that the biggest driver of that gap keeps changing. In 2016, he got BABIP’d to death, as the batters who managed to avoid Ks posted a .347 BABIP. In 2017, his overall numbers were excellent no matter how you slice them, but he had inflated home/road splits and some issues with runners in scoring position. This year, he’s had trouble with men on base again, and odd issues getting *left* handed batters out. To be fair, this weird reverse split thing (which he didn’t show last year) has been with him for most of his career. Indeed, he still shows reverse splits by FIP and slash line over his career. It’s just that this year, they’re really, really high, albeit in a very small sample (as teams try to stack their line-up with righties).

We saw this a bit with Chris Sale, but we’re still searching for a really good measure of deception. Chris Sale should be easier (not easy, but easier) for righties to see, and I suppose they hit slightly better than lefties, but what makes Chris Sale CHRIS SALE is that despite his low release point and slider-heavy arsenal, righties simply don’t see the ball until it’s too late. James Paxton *should* be death on a stick to lefties, particularly after lowering his own arm angle. He’s just…not, at least not yet. That’s okay, as for whatever reason, *righties* have never picked up the ball all that well against him.

In any event, he’s our ace, and even after two straight clunkers, you have to like the M’s chances in a game like this.

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

Ross Detwiler was great and Dan Vogelbach homered in Tacoma’s 6-1 win last night. Everett lost in extras, and the Arizona League M’s have opened up the campaign 0-7. Today, the Rainiers host Las Vegas – it’s a gorgeous night for a game at Cheney – and my favorite DSL prospect, hulking Brazilian pitcher Igor Januario, got the win in relief. Go M’s.


3 Responses to “Game 80, Mariners at Orioles”

  1. Grayfox3d on June 26th, 2018 8:43 pm

    Just another 1 run win! I’ll take it. It looks like we may not have to worry about the Angels to much as they seem to have fallen completely apart which is sad because Trout is an amazing player and on a winning team, he could be even better.

    May have to watch out for those pesky Athletics as they seem to be on a bit of a hot streak and keeping pace in the wild card race. I know it’s early but we have to be aware of all competition at this point.

  2. mksh21 on June 27th, 2018 8:44 am

    Never too early for the A’s. Im still smarting over 2002 🙁

  3. heyoka on June 28th, 2018 6:08 am

    81 games. 50 wins. Time for an 84 game winning streak.

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