Game 85, Royals at Mariners

marc w · July 1, 2018 at 12:28 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

James Paxton vs. Brad Keller, 1:10pm

Happy Maple Day.

It’s a strange thing to think about now, with the M’s 22 over .500 and seemingly coasting to a wild card spot, but I’ve been thinking about the 2010 M’s a bit recently. These musings haven’t been occasioned by the M’s themselves, of course. This current iteration is almost a polar opposite. Instead, it’s been watching the dregs of the league in back-to-back series – the Orioles and now the Royals – that bring you back to that utterly hopeless frame of mind.

The M’s haven’t blown their downtrodden opponents out. They’ve been fairly closely-fought games by and large. The problem is that the outcome’s felt preordained, just a matter of filling in the details. And the reason for *that* is simply that these teams don’t have a full complement of major league players. They can hang around if things go right, as we saw with Mike Moustakas’ 3-run shot in the first. But pretty quickly, starter Jason Hammel found himself on the ropes, which led Mike Salk to ask a fundamental question:

I mean, yes. The answer is obviously yes. But put yourself in the manager’s shoes. You can leave in your bad but regular bad starting pitcher, or you can turn to Burch Smith or Brian Flynn or someone *even worse*. Brandon Maurer has been utterly lost this season, but he might be a better option than whoever the Royals long man is. Take the worst bullpen in MLB, and then find the worst single member of it. Does that change how quick your hook might be with your scuffling starter?

The 2010 M’s real problem wasn’t their bullpen or their pitching in general, but it brought up those same awful choices. Love to pinch hit for Rob Johnson here…except that Adam Moore’s technically been worse. Jack or Josh Wilson in this late-game spot with two on? I dunno, pinch hit a plainly not-ready-for-this Matt Tuiasosopo? Call up Chris Woodward? IS there a procedure to just concede an inning? Asking for a friend.

At the time, it felt hopeless, but the process of following them every day gave us a unique insight into their historic ineptitude. Would it be plainly visible to opposing fans? Sure, the stats were available, and you could see some terrible batting averages and OBPs, but could they SEE it; could they understand what they were looking at over the course of a three game series? After watching Baltimore and now Kansas City, I think I have my answer.

Today, the Royals start Rule 5 pick Brad Keller, just to heighten the 2010 M’s feel of it all. Kanekoa Texeira, oops, I mean Keller, has done fairly well by throwing a mix of fastballs – both a straight, cutter-like four-seamer and a sinker. Combining the two, he’s throwing 65-75% fastballs on the year. He’s got above-average velocity on them, sitting in the mid-90s, but given the nature of the pitches, he’s not going to rack up strikeouts. In the early part of the year, he threw strikes and balanced a lack of K’s with a lack of walks. Over time, that control’s waned a bit, but he’s been OK thanks to a lack of HRs. He’s posting a 60% GB rate, but that’s not due purely to his sinker – he throws the 4-seamer more often, but while the GB rate’s a bit higher on the sinker, they’re both remarkably similar.

The M’s haven’t fared quite as well against ground ballers this year, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Game after game sees a player who’s been completely cold have a huge game or at least a huge at-bat to lift the club. Last night it was Ryon Healy, who’d been *terrible* for the past few weeks. Dee Gordon hadn’t been great, but helped the M’s get a win in Baltimore, and even Austin Romine – LITERALLY Austin Romine – has shown signs of life when he filled in for Jean Segura. As I said, it’s essentially as far from the experience of watching the 2010 M’s as possible.

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
SP: PAXTON wooooo

Williams Perez gets the start for Tacoma tonight as they host Reno. Chase de Jong is pitching for Arkansas against San Antonio, and Ljay Newsome takes the hill for Modesto. Clinton got rained out, and Everett’s playing a double-header tonight in Eugene after they couldn’t use the park in Eugene last night due to a Grateful Dead concert.


5 Responses to “Game 85, Royals at Mariners”

  1. Grayfox3d on July 1st, 2018 1:04 pm

    Good afternoon boys/gals! lets get this W today please! Houston lost, we could be back to .5 games back.

    Lets go Big Maple!

  2. Stevemotivateir on July 1st, 2018 2:19 pm

    First, great write-up once again, Marc.

    That said, it was literally Andrew Romine that has shown signs of life when filling in for Segura, though there’s an argument that Austin has done more for the Mariners!

  3. LongDistance on July 1st, 2018 2:19 pm

    As well, not that it means anything, Houston lost on the road. Never mind. Not noticing… didn’t say anything.

  4. Stevemotivateir on July 1st, 2018 3:13 pm

    A half game behind Houston.

    A half game behind Houston.

  5. mrakbaseball on July 1st, 2018 5:51 pm

    So, I guess DH Ohtani and the California Angels are next.

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