Game 114, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · August 7, 2018 at 4:22 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Bartolo Colon, 5:05pm

Happy Felix Day. Apparently, Felix did enough in his last start against the Jays to get another. I still can’t quite believe that this day-to-day, start-to-start nonsense is how the team chooses to motivate Felix freaking Hernandez.

It’s interesting – nearly the entire arc of Felix’s career, and certainly since 2007-8 or so, has been a story of declining velocity. It’s not new, it’s just that there was nowhere for his velocity to go. He arrived as a teenager touching triple digits with a four-seam fastball, and, a ton of HRs-allowed later, morphed into the guy we know and love: a sinker/change guy with a FB that settled in around 93-95, then 92-94, then 91-93, then 89-92. His Cy Young year of 2010 he averaged 95, but he was better in 2014, when he threw 93. What’s the point of this historical digression? The point isn’t that Felix never learned to deal with a slower FB; that’s literally all he’s ever done. The point is that when it dipped below 91-92 or so, it stopped being playable.

Felix’s control improved over the course of his career, and his contact management followed suit for a while. But his velocity seemed to cross some invisible line right around when the ball got juiced, and Felix hasn’t adjusted back. That’s at least *partially* on him, but it’s still interesting to me that so much of the decline in his results have come on his sinker, and in particular, against left-handed batters. Back in 2014, Felix had reverse splits, and has many times throughout his career. This isn’t a huge shock for a guy whose best pitch is a change-up of death, and one that looks a hell of a lot like his sinker. But something seemed to change in 2015 that caused lefties to start picking up that pitch much better.

Lefties slugged .423 vs. his sinker in 2014, but since then, that figure’s skyrocketed: .566 in 2015, then .588 in 2016, wayyy up to .706 last year, and .731 this year. Sure, there’s BABIP in there, and there are sample issues, and noise, etc. But you can’t survive in the majors when people are slugging 6-700 on your primary fastball. Shockingly, his change is still effective against lefties, so this isn’t a case where the lower-velo sinker is just getting mushed up with his change. He’s got a good change and an awful fastball. Using the four-seamer could help with this, and that’s what many have been saying (including Jerry Dipoto!) for a few years now.

But I want to draw to your attention just how weird it is that Felix’s SI would just die a horrible death at 90 MPH, *especially* given that his SLG-agaisnt vs. righties is under. 450 this year. Isn’t it possible that the problem here is that he’s either tipping it or that he’s lost whatever kind of deception he had just a few years ago? These are kind of “Strong” and “Weak” forms of the same argument: Felix’s FB is worse, sure, but it’s unusable in games because people are reading it. If that’s the case – and it very well might not be – the problem here isn’t with Felix. It’s using all of the wonderful technology we have to see if we can spot a tell and help him fix it. Instead of carping at him, or grudgingly giving him another start (especially with Erasmo still on the mend), give him a fix, give him an actionable thing to work on.

Look, this may be the end for Felix, and it’s entirely possible that he’s not tipping the pitch, and that lefties simply get too long a look at it in flight. There may be no well to go back to. But if I’m the M’s, and I’m now down in the wildcard, and the A’s picked up some rotation depth…I’d figure out if there wasn’t a way to make 2018 Felix the equivalent of 2018 Mike Fiers. There’s no reason Felix can’t do the high-HR, low-BB sorta-mostly good thing. And if he does, this team gets a whole lot more interesting down the the stretch.

1: Gordon, 2B
2: Haniger, RF
3: Span, LF
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Healy, 1B
7: Herrmann, C
8: Maybin, CF
9: Romine, SS

The struggling Jean Segura gets a day off today. Robbie Cano continued his rehab in Tacoma, singling today AND yesterday and making some plays at 1B. The Colorado SkySox beat the R’s tonight in the final game the two franchises will play. Mike Curto reports that this brought the overall series between the clubs – which dates back to 1988 – to a dead heat: both teams have won 174 and lost 174.


22 Responses to “Game 114, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. mksh21 on August 7th, 2018 5:22 pm

    Herrmann, Maybin, Romine… Segura could have both hands amputated and I wouldn’t want him getting a day off if this is what the lineup turns in to.

  2. mksh21 on August 7th, 2018 5:30 pm

    Fun fact- with Ichiro “retiring” Colon and C.C. Sabathia are the last players from the 2001 ALDS (our last playoff series win) who are still active. C.C. was 20, Ichiro 27 and Colon was 28!

  3. mrakbaseball on August 7th, 2018 6:51 pm

    I like you Felix, but this probably is the end of the line. Thanks for the memories and the inspiration to want things.

  4. Sowulo on August 7th, 2018 6:52 pm

    Hope we never see him on the mound again….Thanks for the memories.

  5. seasick on August 7th, 2018 6:55 pm

    With an 89mph fastball maybe he needs to learn to pitch to contact. Oh wait…that’s not working either.

  6. Stevemotivateir on August 7th, 2018 7:09 pm

    Way to jinx a legend, Marc!

  7. WTF_Ms on August 7th, 2018 7:25 pm

    He dropped off pretty fast. Maybe he can re-group in the off season and be a situational reliever?

  8. schwingy on August 7th, 2018 8:51 pm

    Felix was the best thing the Ms had going for a decade. And now this year when we have a chance, *this* happens. Why are the baseball gods so hard on us?
    Good luck Felix, thanks for all the amazing memories, you will always be one of my favorite Seattle athletes.

  9. seasick on August 7th, 2018 9:24 pm

    Well if we squeak in as a wild card this year, there’s no way we can compete with the top tier teams anyway. Not with bench players like Romine, who look completely overmatched at this level. Our bullpen is getting beat up. We didn’t go out and get the impact starter we desperately needed. We’ve been dominated by the top tier teams so far this year, and have only really competed with the lower and middle tier teams. This current team just doesn’t have enough depth and the pieces we’ve added are middling at best. Nicasio is a disaster and Colomé can only throw one pitch…who put this bullpen together?

  10. schwingy on August 7th, 2018 10:50 pm

    Well, we’re the #1 very worse team in professional sports in 16+ years for appearances in postseason play. Worse than the Browns or Bills … or any team. Crazy.
    We are 2 games out with 48 to go.
    Somehow. Someway.

  11. LongDistance on August 8th, 2018 7:17 am

    Often enough watched bad innings. But that one. Doom. I felt bad watching it go down. And whatever reason there was for leaving Felix in, was wrong. I hate to say it, but that 6th is probably going to be the low point for me. And there have already been several. All those bad innings have a season become.

  12. seasick on August 8th, 2018 3:40 pm

    I wonder if he was left in to further justify what they knew they were going to have to do after that terrible start. Or to give him a shot at settling down for the final couple innings, so they’d have a reason to keep him in the rotation.

  13. Notfromboise on August 9th, 2018 1:33 am

    You embarrass him by pulling him, you embarrass him by leaving him in, it really doesn’t matter. He needs to get ppl out. That’s what pitchers are supposed to do.

    I’m bummed we did not get another starter at the deadline. I am excited that Zunino had a 2 dinger day.

    I feel blessed we are 15 games over .500 and only a couple games out of the wildcard even though the As are roughly 40-0 since the all star break. I think we might be racing the Yankees at this point. There is some serious voodoo in Oakland atm.

  14. currcoug on August 9th, 2018 8:30 am

    The A’s are chasing the Astros. We have to fix our problems first, and then worry about chasing them.

    I believe Cano will be very productive the rest of the season…because he is healthy and motivated to do so. He might be able to ignite the offense. However, it is probably too little too late.

    Felix looks like toast. LeBlanc and Marco have innings issues. Can Paxton stay healthy?

    We are not going to catch NY, and unless things change, we might be looking up at the Angels by the end of the season too.

  15. JMB on August 9th, 2018 12:39 pm

    Couple of things…
    1. Is there a better option?
    2. Innings issues elsewhere in the rotation.
    3. Health issues elsewhere in the rotation.
    4. Felix seems to have trouble with the first inning. This doesn’t bode well for a transition to the bullpen.
    5. This sucks.

  16. mrakbaseball on August 9th, 2018 5:51 pm

    Well, the Mariners, looking dead for nearly a month and a half, taking out their frustrations on Verlander. You can’t predict this.

  17. mksh21 on August 9th, 2018 6:47 pm

    It may never work again. But kudos to Servais for trying something.

    Haniger-Segura-Span 3 doubles, 3 Home runs a triple and a walk first three times around? I guess we have a new lead off hitter.

  18. mrakbaseball on August 10th, 2018 8:11 pm

    Again, the Mariners looking DOA for a long time, win the first 2 games of series in games started by Verlander and Cole. Who knew?

  19. mksh21 on August 11th, 2018 8:52 am

    Amazing. It’s like we are doing everything we can to help the A’s win the division 😉

    Seriously though it’s so nice to see Haniger mashing again I was getting concerned he wasn’t able to make adjustments now that the league has gotten many looks at him. This tear is amazingly timed. If Maybin can like hit even at an Endy Chavez level and Cano can give us ANYTHING in 3 days the lineup can take some pressure off the pitching.

  20. mksh21 on August 11th, 2018 9:05 am

    This division doesn’t get enough credit. They win 53% of their home games and 55% of their ROAD games! Even the Rangers are only 3 under .500 on the road. The Astros are 41-18. As much love as the AL East and NL Central get the AL West has been brutal for all involved with no Baltimore like team tanking.

  21. sexymarinersfan on August 11th, 2018 11:23 pm

    Might we see a pre game write up tomorrow?

  22. heyoka on August 12th, 2018 6:42 am

    Pre game write up: Looking to sweep the asstrolls, the M’s send ErAssMo out against Dallas Texas today.
    A win here would keep them on the Mathletics heels, who once again clipped the Anaheim Los Angeles California Angel’s wings yesterday.
    [Enter some interesting pitch f/x data and charts here.]
    [Recap the minor league box scores here.]
    Robinson Cano is killing it in the minors. Think he is due to join the team Tuesday? Good bye Ryon Healy and thanks for all the fish.

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