Game 110, Jays at Mariners: Big Game Marco, We Need You

marc w · August 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Ryan Borucki, 7:10pm

Last night’s game was frustrating on so many levels, from losing to a team that’s kicked off a rebuild, to the bullpen continuing their slide, to, uh, the small matter of the Oakland A’s overtaking the M’s in the wildcard race. The fan base is anxious/angry, and the A’s kick off a series at home against the similarly-rebuilding Detroit Tigers. The M’s really, really need a win here. In the first game of the Astros series, the M’s were similarly desperate, and they turned to Big Game James who delivered one of his best performances right when the M’s needed it. Today, the M’s desperately need Marco Gonzales, someone the FO clearly thinks is one of the best SPs in the league, to be on his game tonight, as the playoff expectancy of this game is higher than any the M’s have played this year. To be clear: the FO’s not wrong in their assessment of Gonzales. By Fangraphs fWAR, Gonzales ranks 19th in MLB at 2.6, and by BP’s DRA-based WARP, he’s 26th at 2.9. He’s at 2.7 by BBREF’s RA9-based WAR, but I’m not exactly sure where that ranks him, but he’s in a statistical dead heat with his teammate James Paxton, which is a good spot to be.

Opposing him is Ryan Borucki, a former 15th-round pick and org-depth sort of prospect who’s popped up in a big way this year, tossing 5 quality starts in his 6 MLB opportunities. After being injured off and on for a few years, he broke out in 2016 as an over-aged soft-tossing lefty in A ball, but ran through 3 levels the following year. For Borucki, his game depends on getting to his plus change-up, a pitch with pretty odd movement. Borucki’s fastball is only 91-92, and it’s thrown from a 6′ release point that’s more or less dead on average. It’s just that the thing MOVES like it’s a sinker thrown by a low-3/4 arm slot guy like Adam Conley or Sean Manaea. All in all, his fastball is almost a dead ringer for Manaea’s, right down to the 92-ish velo. Borucki’s gets a touch more horizontal movement and maybe slightly less vertical movement (though it’s really, really close). That’s why it’s so weird that Borucki’s got the slightly more elevated release point. You can see in the gifs of that FG post linked above that his delivery *looks* kind of side-army, but it’s released from 6’+. The dissonance of movement and release point may be making it harder on batters.

The other problem is that his secondaries are just as weird. His signature change has plenty of armside run, but *less* than his four-seam fastball (that’s not unheard of, but it’s not super common). It also has MORE vertical rise (which I’ve almost never seen from an overhand pitcher). His slider sinks a ton, again simulating a pitch thrown by a sidewinder. AAA hitters seemed unfazed by this gap between expected and actual movement, as he threw 77 IP in the IL this year with a FIP of just over 4. That’s not bad, but it doesn’t scream instant success, either. I wonder if MLB hitters get more coaching preparing them to react to arm angles – if they mentally make little adjustments based on cues like release point MORE than minor league hitters, who may not have as much access to video scouting and the like. In any event, he’s been much tougher in the bigs, with a FIP of 2.5 over those 6 starts.

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

I get, intellectually, the idea of keeping Guillermo Heredia over Ben Gamel. Tonight’s game with a tough lefty on the hill would seem to validate it. But now the M’s, in a complete offensive tailspin, get to take defense-first Heredia and stick him in an *outfield corner*. I love platoon splits, and they matter and all, but the answer to persistent offensive struggles is not Guillermo Heredia in LF. No, you don’t need your 4th OF to spark the offense, and no, Ben Gamel’s no great shakes vs. lefties. But the M’s seemed to prioritize defensive flexibility here, and I find that kind of strange. Cameron Maybin has reverse splits for his career, which…I don’t know. This is all a very small point, but at this point in the season, with anxiety peaking, we’re all picking at a lot of the small things.


17 Responses to “Game 110, Jays at Mariners: Big Game Marco, We Need You”

  1. Stevemotivateir on August 3rd, 2018 6:00 pm

    You hit the nail on the head with Gamel/Heredia, Marc. Whatever minimal defensive advantage there was with Heredia, it’s lost throwing him in a corner–which is where he should be, as Maybin’s the better center fielder.

    But the weird thing about all this is that Span really doesn’t have splits, so does it really matter if they rest him against a RHP? And for what it’s worth, fangraphs home splits show that Gamel has hit lefties at Safeco.

  2. WTF_Ms on August 3rd, 2018 9:03 pm

    I hate to say I told ya so, but I told ya so! Offense goes into a slump right as the A’s are on fire. No playoff this year. Mark my words.

  3. WTF_Ms on August 3rd, 2018 9:14 pm

    Let’s not leave the bullpen out! They’re tanking now too! Yay! Not…

  4. schwingy on August 3rd, 2018 9:21 pm

    Ms just seem so fragmented and fractured right now. Getting manhandled by a AAA squad. Man they need a few Ws in a row. Marc, thanks for all your work.

  5. LongDistance on August 3rd, 2018 9:23 pm

    9th. Ugh. Wonder when the team will decide to show up.

  6. mksh21 on August 4th, 2018 8:02 pm

    Good thing they shored up middle relief to protect these leads this Double A line up never gets.

    I’m all for letting the pitcher bat and DHing for Romine. Sad thing is he is hitting at about what’s expected and it was in their plan to have him on the roster all season.

  7. mrakbaseball on August 4th, 2018 8:15 pm

    2 runs all but insurmountable.

  8. mksh21 on August 4th, 2018 8:26 pm

    Earlier in the season I didn’t worry about three runs. But things are evening out as they usually do and M’s sat on their hands and did nothing.

  9. mrakbaseball on August 4th, 2018 8:28 pm

    The Blue Jays, long playing out the string, are enjoying an extra home series at the corner of “Edgar & Dave”. Meh.

  10. Grayfox3d on August 4th, 2018 8:31 pm

    So glad its just about NFL season and NHL season on the horizon to take my mind of this stink fest.

  11. mksh21 on August 4th, 2018 8:44 pm

    Serves them right if they get no hit.

  12. mrakbaseball on August 4th, 2018 9:09 pm

    Mariners have taken a page out of Derek Bell’s book with their own version of “Operation Shutdown”. Surreal.

  13. WTF_Ms on August 4th, 2018 9:31 pm

    Every year, I have to refer to my username. This stinks very badly.

  14. LongDistance on August 4th, 2018 9:35 pm

    They have to shake this up. Whatever they were running on is gone

  15. mrakbaseball on August 4th, 2018 9:51 pm

    They’re going to get swept by a team going nowhere, aren’t they? At “home”.

  16. WTF_Ms on August 4th, 2018 10:03 pm

    Yes, yes they just got swept by the Blue Jays. They are officially in the toilet. Next up, bottom of the West, because going from a game or so out of first, all the way to last would be perfectly fitting.

  17. Stevemotivateir on August 5th, 2018 7:07 am

    Does anyone actually believe that the power of Seager and Healy are valuable? There is a real nead for players with more than one or two tools.

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