Game 100 – White Sox at Mariners

marc w · July 22, 2018 at 11:50 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Reynaldo Lopez, 1:10pm

Last night featured a great discussion with some of my favorite baseball writers, Jerry Dipoto and John Choiniere from the M’s front office talking about their process, some very encouraging innings from Félix, and ultimately a mostly-gross 5-0 loss. It’s nice that good company and a good pace-of-game can overcome a total lack of offense and one poor inning from Felix. I’m trying to avoid the soft bigotry of low expectations in re: El Cartelua, but I honestly think he outpitched his line. He got swings and misses, his change-up looked (from my vantage point high in the 300 level) to have bite/sink, and I thought he generally targeted the weakness of a free-swinging line-up. He also gave up 4 runs in 5, and that was essentially that.

That was that in large part because Dylan Covey, of all people, was nearly unhittable. Before the game, and spurred on by a fan question, reiterated his belief that while strikeouts-plus-grounders is essentially the best possible skillset for pitchers, economic reality pushed the M’s in a different direction. They couldn’t afford guys like that, so they picked up strikethrowers instead, and tried to build a great defense around them that would mitigate the downside of allowing a ton of contact and elevated contact. Dylan Covey is an interesting sort of counter to that strategy. That is, even assuming you can’t just go pick up a peak-Félix or Aaron Nola or whoever in free agency, you *can* find people with skills that lend themselves to high-K, high-GB outcomes. They just come with a bunch of other problems. In Covey’s case, it was a complete lack of control and command. But the White Sox saw that he threw a sinker really hard, and had the workings of a decent slider. Sure, he didn’t know where either was going, and even in a best-case scenario, he’s probably going to struggle with lefties, but his selection in Rule 5 was a bet on their ability to coach him up – to keep his positive attributes while they sanded down his rough edges. By and large, this hasn’t worked; it’s a microcosm of the White Sox massive rebuild – an interesting idea, well-executed at times, that ultimately still looks pretty shitty when viewed from the outside. I don’t know enough about Covey to know if he’s in their long-term plans, and I don’t know what they’ve done with his mechanics. But for a night, it looked pretty darn remarkable. He got grounders *and* a lot of weakly hit pop-ups. That’s a pretty neat trick, even if it was annoying to watch it work against the M’s.

Today, Marco Gonzales makes his first start of the second half. Marco and Mitch Haniger are the two feathers in the cap for this FO, and they’ve earned the right to gloat a bit about it, and Jerry subtly, charmingly, took that opportunity before last night’s game. They talked a bit about changing/refining his curve, which is quite clearly a much different pitch than it was when he was a Cardinal. I had no idea if the new, better, curve was one of the things that attracted them to Gonzo last year, or if it was the product of their coaching – now it seems we have our answer. And honestly, that’s the answer I was hoping for. The M’s need to maximize the ability of all of their players, and the process that went into Marco’s improved curve is something that gives me a bit of hope for the M’s future. Just listening to how they incorporate data (including from third-party providers), make decisions, and then talk with on-the-ground coaches like Brian DeLuna, was fascinating and it’s something to build on. Jerry mentioned Marco’s intelligence as a key reason he was able to make the change so quickly, but I hope they’re able to do more of this.

Reynaldo Lopez was one of the big-name prospects the Sox got when they traded cheap/controlled OF Adam Eaton a year or two ago, and he’s been the brightest light in a dark, dark season for them. The 24 year old throws a 96MPH fastball and backs it up with a change at around 84, a slider at 84-85, and a curve ball at 77. The change-up seems to be his favorite weapon, but purely from a movement point of view, it looks pretty marginal to me. The curve seems to be a work in process, but his slider’s been a decent enough pitch this year. Like Covey, his actual strikeouts lag his stuff, and without Covey’s weird low-spin fastball, Lopez won’t rack up as many ground balls (he’s been an extreme fly ball guy, in fact). But he’s relied on his FB to get mostly weak contact, and if he can develop either his curve or change, the Sox would definitely have something. As it stands, he’s not getting chase-swings, he’s walking a few too many, and he’s getting by with a low BABIP, but you can clearly see why he was such a big prospect.

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

As you can see, Mike Zunino’s been recalled from AAA, with David Freitas heading back to Tacoma. Guillermo Heredia is back in at CF – against a righty – to give Ben Gamel a break and because Lopez doesn’t have such extreme splits.

It was something of a bleak night in the system last night, as Tacoma lost to Salt Lake 2-1 in 10 IP, Springfield beat up on Arkansas 13-7, Modesto got blasted 11-5 by Rancho Cucamonga, Boise blanked Everett 9-0, and the AZL M’s lost to the AZL Padres. But hey, the DSL M’s picked up a win.


3 Responses to “Game 100 – White Sox at Mariners”

  1. Notfromboise on July 22nd, 2018 5:42 pm

    Mr Healy got word people have been badtalking him.

    Either that or he really wants Vogelbach out of town.

  2. Notfromboise on July 22nd, 2018 5:43 pm

    Headline tomorrow should read ‘Healy votes twice for Heredia to sit upon Cano’s return.

  3. mrakbaseball on July 22nd, 2018 7:10 pm

    Healy had a good game but the bottom line is 100 games in and the Mariners starting first baseman still has a negative WAR

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