Game 132, Mariners at Padres

marc w · August 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Jacob Nix, 7:10pm

Happy Felix Day to you and yours.

The M’s are in San Diego in one of those trap series, one that can really make up some ground in the standings, what with the M’s playing a rebuilding (read: terrible) Padres team while the A’s and Astros slug it out. It’s an opportunity, but it’s also hard to know what to make of it. Sweep the Pads and it’s, “Sure, but that’s just the Padres.” Lose the series, and it’s full-on panic time, especially with Marco Gonzales now on the DL and the team struggling to figure out who to give a spot start to. So, M’s, this is a tough spot to be in, but science tells us that sweeping this thing is the path of least resistance, so go that route.

The big problem with the Padres isn’t that they’re rebuilding, or that they gave too much to 1B Eric Hosmer, or even that they employ one of this site’s founders. Instead, their problem is that they employ too many players who are not good enough. That sounds simplistic and harsh, and it’s both, but as with the White Sox, I think they’re getting waaaaayyy too much credit for having a good farm system, and not enough scrutiny about how much the first wave of those prospects is actually faring. And like the White Sox, I think this makes them a cautionary tale when it comes to the tear-down rebuild. Yes, Theo Epstein did it on the South Side of Chicago, and yes, the Astros famously made it work in Houston. But that doesn’t mean that all you need to do to become a juggernaut is to tear things down to the studs. The White Sox gave up tons of talent on team-friendly deals, and while they’ve now got an impressive system, the early returns are…mixed on Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Adam Engel, etc.

The Padres have one of the game’s premier farm systems again for the second time this decade. They wasted the first group on a short-term go-for-it strategy, and now they’re trying to find a new, team-controlled core with the next wave. Progress is…mixed. Former #1 prospect Anderson Espinoza hasn’t thrown since 2016, though he may get back on a mound in instructs this fall. #2 prospect Hunter Renfroe now mans an outfield corner, and his power keeps him playable, but he’s the kind of high-floor guy that looks like more like a rich man’s Ryon Healy than a young Nelson Cruz. Cal Quantrill’s dealt with injuries and inconsistency, and Manny Margot – like many of his teammates – is held back by a persistently low OBP.

They’ll dip into more of that impressive farm system today, as Luis Urias makes his MLB debut in the infield, and as starter Jacob Nix makes his 4th MLB appearance. Nix was drafted by the Astros, but his overslot deal was scuttled when the Astros couldn’t sign 1st rounder Brady Aiken, leaving Nix in limbo. He signed the following year with the Pads, and has made steady progress up the ranks. He’s not an ace, but has a FB that sits 93 and the makings of a legitimately great change-up with real splitter-like drop. It pairs well with his heavy four-seam, and he’s got a breaking ball to round out the arsenal. The problem, it seems to me, is that each pitch comes from a completely different release point. This was Marco Gonzales’ problem in the past, but if anything, Nix seems more extreme, with his change-up shifted by almost 6″ in both horizontal and vertical planes. Even so, the change has had good results, but it should be a swing-and-miss pitch in addition to being a grounder-inducing offering. He’s only pitched a few innings, so it’s tough to say much, but he’s struggled more with his fastball. He’s *really* struggled with lefties (Nix is a righty), and while some of that may regress, this sure seems like a good match-up for the M’s lefties.

1: Haniger, CF
2: Cano, 1B
3: Segura, SS
4: Cruz, RF
5: Span, LF
6: Seager, 3B
7: Zunino, C
8: Gordon, 2B

With Cruz in their again, the M’s are clearly favoring offense over defense. Good. The M’s offense has struggled and is more of a reason why they’ve fallen behind Oakland than the pitching staff. Things like keeping Heredia over Gamel haven’t been a HUGE problem, but this team desperately needs to focus on scoring. Little decisions add up, and while Felix would probably love to see, I don’t know, Gamel in at RF, you can’t take Nellie’s bat out of THIS line-up right now. There’s not enough there there to make up for the absence of someone like Cruz.


8 Responses to “Game 132, Mariners at Padres”

  1. mksh21 on August 28th, 2018 8:06 pm

    2 DP’s by Felix. Interleague baseball catch it while you can!

  2. WTF_Ms on August 28th, 2018 9:06 pm

    Well, this is going swimmingly.

  3. mrakbaseball on August 28th, 2018 9:09 pm

    73 pitches thru 8 innings for Nix. He made it look easy mowing down the M’s lineup.

  4. WTF_Ms on August 28th, 2018 9:25 pm

    So much for sweeping. Oh yeah, the A’s won…again…ugh.

  5. schwingy on August 28th, 2018 9:30 pm

    Vintage Ms. Quality plus start for King. Loss. Nostalgic.

  6. mmason0071 on August 28th, 2018 10:30 pm

    How much longer do we have to pretend that the M’s are chasing anybody for a playoff spot rather than just swirling down the toilet? They are actually going to end up a little above .500 like most predicted, just took a painful way to get there.

  7. LongDistance on August 29th, 2018 12:36 am

    The Season Is Over Department (Spoiler Alert: use of past tense). This always was a thin-ice season, and so in many ways was enjoyable because we were winning and up in the standings. So many things were in the balance. And when things began to go sideways, we could see how delicate that balance was. And just about anything could be blamed or pointed to. Could Cano’s presence have offset whatever it is that has befallen Felix? Or… (insert here cherry-picked element of disappointment)? Last year, the M’s dribbled in with something like .480 on the year. This year, we got 1 run advantage + Diaz = yay. The problem, going forward, is what such a balancing act bodes going into next year? Being on the brink, means just that. I enjoyed this year, but I have to admit it didn’t do anything to help me overcome my now-chronic Mariners July Deadline Paranoia Disorder (where I let myself believe that what happens there is a direct reflection of Front Office pessimism).

  8. heyoka on August 29th, 2018 4:57 am

    Nix throws nails into M’s coffin.

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