Game 107 – Astros at Mariners

marc w · July 31, 2018 at 6:58 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Leake vs. Charlie Morton, 7:10pm

Last night’s game was, in your author’s humble opinion, the best of the 2018 season. Sure, the offense looked lost at times, but they were facing Gerrit Cole, an ace having a beast of a season for Houston. Cole was on fire, and would’ve made any offense look silly. James Paxton’s the M’s ace, but you understood why the Astros were slight favorites, even in Seattle: Paxton’s had great games, but also a few clunkers, and didn’t have the pure runs-allowed numbers you’d love from the ace of a playoff team. But when he’s on, he’s right there with the Coles and Verlanders of the league. Big Maple became the Ace(r) that the M’s needed, and matched Cole inning for inning before the M’s scratched two runs across on a huge, huge 2-out double from Nelson Cruz.

I’ve said it many times: I don’t want the M’s to play for the 2nd wildcard like it’s some valuable trophy. I want the M’s to compete – really compete – with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros. The M’s have a better record than anyone in the NL, but it can be hard some times to scan through the rosters in Houston or Chicago or LA and think, “Yes, the M’s can absolutely win a 7 game series against them.” There’s more than a little M’s-inspired pessimism there; I mean, of COURSE the M’s can beat them in a 7 game series. Anything can happen in a 7 game series! But you know what I mean – it’s not enough to just have a solid team with a great closer that overachieves and is suuuuper happy to be the road team in the wildcard game and get that playoff drought monkey off their back. I’d like a top 3 in the rotation that could go toe to toe with Verlander-Cole-Morton or Sale-Price-Rodriguez-Porcello. Still, with Paxton looking like he brings his best stuff in big games, you could see that the M’s would be a very tough out in the wildcard game, and if Marco Gonzales continues to improve, and if Mike Leake just stays consistent. Games like last night makes even the most pessimistic fan squint and see a playoff squad. Even starting Andrew Romine at 3B didn’t take away from the effect.

Tonight, the M’s face Charlie Morton, who averages 97 on a swerving four-seamer and 96 on a death-dealing sinker. He has a massive, sweeping curve at 80 MPH that breaks gloveside by 10″ while his sinker gets 10″ of armside movement, and then he’s got a cutter and split-change, because why not. He was signed to a two-year deal before 2017 for $14 M, or easily less than Juan Nicasio got. Development allows you to do so much, like completely remake the career trajectory of a former journeyman 5th starter. This is not about minimizing Morton’s payroll. He’s absolutely been worth 10X more than Houston’s paying him, and that’s unfortunate, but here’s the thing: Charlie Morton – the Charlie Morton who signed a couple of small deals just to stick around – is now in line for a major payday. Development can turn a low-bonus signing into Jose Altuve or Luis Severino, just as it can take the #1 overall pick like Carlos Correa and mold him into a superstar. It can do so much, you have to wonder why the Astros felt such urgency to go out onto the market and pick up Roberto Osuna, still serving a suspension for a horrific attack on his girlfriend. He’s not eligible yet, as he’s got a court date and then his suspension clock still has a few days left, but as pretty much everyone’s been saying, the Astros somehow get to use Osuna in the playoffs. The Astros have Hector Rondon, who’s been great as closer once Ken Giles was sent away, and Collin McHugh, sporting a 1.05 ERA at the back of their pen. Given their touch with guys like, er, Rondon and McHugh, it’s really, really hard to justify the need to bring in Osuna. Go get a win, M’s.

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


19 Responses to “Game 107 – Astros at Mariners”

  1. Stevemotivateir on July 31st, 2018 7:46 pm

    It appears Servais is committed to keeping Healy in the bottom third of the lineup, which I applause.

  2. WTF_Ms on July 31st, 2018 9:51 pm

    No sooner than we get pitching help, the offense goes to sleep.

  3. Jake on July 31st, 2018 9:58 pm

    Good first impression, Zach Duke. That was tremendous.

  4. WTF_Ms on July 31st, 2018 10:03 pm

    I jinxed it! Our “help” isn’t helping.

  5. mrakbaseball on August 1st, 2018 2:39 pm

    How big was the M’s wild card lead, 8 games? After today, they will be tied with the A’s.

  6. Stevemotivateir on August 1st, 2018 3:07 pm

    Luckily, it’s King Felix tomorrow.

  7. Jake on August 1st, 2018 4:04 pm

    You mean “unfortunately?” Felix is trying to stay in the starting rotation at this point; he’s been close to a dumpster fire all season. The whole situation is sad.

  8. Stevemotivateir on August 1st, 2018 4:16 pm

    I’m still trying to make sense of Gamel’s demotion. Span doesn’t need to be platooned, and if you need to give him an extra day off or two, you do it while they’re at home. Gamel doesn’t have ugly splits vs. LHP or RHP at home like he does on the road.

    So now there’s a lack of LHH’s available and the 2 of the 3 lefties we do have can’t get on base–one of which doesn’t even have an opportunity because he’s on paternity leave!

    For the most part, I’ve been comfortable with the strategy and planning we’ve seen. But this was retarded.

  9. mrakbaseball on August 1st, 2018 4:21 pm

    I guess at 34, they don’t believe Span is capable of playing every day without wearing down.

  10. WTF_Ms on August 1st, 2018 4:23 pm

    I wonder how long a leash they give Felix. 1 run, 2 in the first inning? My wager is that he lasts 3 innings max. Then the “mystery” arm ailment shows up, and he goes on the 60 day DL.

  11. mksh21 on August 1st, 2018 4:28 pm

    I don’t which is worse –

    when we used to trade great prospects for crappy vets that didn’t pan out

    or when we now trade non prospects for players who we know are terrible.

    This trade deadline was an embarrassment.

  12. Stevemotivateir on August 1st, 2018 4:32 pm

    ^Nobody they acquired “now” are terrible.

    In fact, ZiPS has Seattle as the winner of these deadline deals.

  13. mksh21 on August 1st, 2018 4:46 pm

    Bullpen Depth and Cameron Maybin. How on earth do you call that a win? Short term does nothing. Long term does nothing. None are worth keeping after this year and it doesn’t address anything that would keep them in the hunt with the Astros and keep off the A’s. I realize having one of the worst farm systems in baseball prohibits making a major trade, but these are pointless.

    I bet they are all fantastic character guys though!

  14. Stevemotivateir on August 1st, 2018 7:43 pm

    ^When you make a rebuttal here you should do a little research first. You can start by looking at their standard lines, then their splits.

    Tui, Warren, Duke, and Maybin are all clear upgrades over Lawrence, Bradford, Elias, and Heredia (though Gamel was the immediate casualty). Tui and Warren have been lights-out against RHH’s, Warren has been semi-effective against lefties as well, Duke has dominated lefties, and Maybin has been runnin’ a 148 wRC+ since the end of June. He’s also a real center fielder.

    Just because Duke got hit in his first game against an elite team, doesn’t mean he’s worthless. But go ahead and try to argue that Elias was a better matchup.

  15. Stevemotivateir on August 1st, 2018 7:55 pm

    ZiPS has Seattle pegged for an 8.2% improvement towards making the post season in the AL. In second place, Cleveland improved their odds by 0.5%.

    Those moves may not have been for household names, but collectively, yes, by all accounts they should be short-term improvements.

  16. Sowulo on August 1st, 2018 8:30 pm

    Yes….IF team chemistry does explode with so many new faces…..

  17. Sowulo on August 1st, 2018 8:45 pm


  18. Stevemotivateir on August 1st, 2018 9:00 pm

    I had the same thought regarding all the new faces. For all that’s been made of this team gelling, adding 4 is a bit of a shock, though Lawrence and Elias were stopgaps.

  19. LongDistance on August 4th, 2018 9:18 pm

    They have to shake this up. Painfully even, maybe. The Mariner August Curse of Status Quo Hoping and Wishing won’t do it.

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