Game 152, Mariners at Astros – Bullpen Day

marc w · September 19, 2018 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Matt Festa vs. Dallas Keuchel, 5:10pm

Like Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel will be a free agent at the end of the year, and it’s not yet clear whether the Astros will make a big effort to keep him in Texas. As a former Cy Young winner, he’ll generate some interest, but as a low-velo, command-and-grounders guy, he won’t command the sky-high prices of the high strikeout pitchers. He’s been somewhat volatile in the past 3-4 years, but he’s been volatile within the “pretty good” to “great” range, which is not a bad place to bounce around in. The M’s have traditionally shied away from ground ballers, with Jerry Dipoto arguing they simply cost too much; the Cubs deal for Tyler Chatwood would seem to make that point AND serve as a cautionary tale. But of course, the M’s have plenty of money, and Keuchel’s kind of the polar opposite of Chatwood: he’s been consistently good, a results-over-scouting report pitcher as opposed to Chatwood’s velocity and not much else.

I’ve talked a lot about the Astros player development work, and Keuchel’s another great example. He throws 89, and had kind of established himself as a boring, near replacement-level starter for a while before suddenly turning great for a few years. No, he hasn’t been able to maintain Cy Young-like stats, but he’s been an excellent pitcher now for 5 years. The question is: what happens when he leaves Houston? Keuchel strikes me as something like an old MG or another cool, slightly culty car model that collectors and enthusiasts go nuts for, and which performs incredibly when tuned by a talented mechanic, but which may be a money pit for someone without highly specialized mechanical training. I don’t know much about either cars or acquiring free agent pitchers with poor fastball velocity, but it’ll be interesting to see what Keuchel’s contract ends up at. Same for the going-on-35-year-old Charlie Morton.

Today the M’s are going to have a bullpen day, and Matt Festa will start things off. Festa put up huge strikeout numbers in AA last year and has largely continued to rack up whiffs this year. Looking at his scouting report, it’s easy to see why. He’s got a mid-90s fastball, a sweeping slider, and then a curve and a change up. That’s a broad repertoire, one befitting a starter. Unfortunately, that’s not who we’ve seen in his admittedly limited duty. Festa’s come up with a fastball at 93 and a slider. And that’s essentially it. He’s thrown a couple of curves, no cambios. His scouting report at Fangraphs had *4* pitches with at least 50 grades (average), and now he’s your standard sinking-fastball/slider reliever. Simplifying can be good for a pitcher upon a promotion, but I’m not sure this is working: he’s got a single strikeout in the bigs. Is today the day he can take his mothballed change up out for a spin?

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

Postscript on the post yesterday regarding Josh James – someone on twitter sent me this explanation for his breakout: being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea. That’s fascinating to me, but it seems a bit incomplete. At the very least, it probably greased the skids for any work the Astros did with him, but a jump in velo of ~ 8 MPH sounds like too much to attribute to sleep. But maybe not? Maybe I’d be 10X the blogger I am now if I slept properly.

Jeff Sullivan pointed out that for the first time since 2004, the NL has officially won the interleague series -the AL had dominated for 14 years.


One Response to “Game 152, Mariners at Astros – Bullpen Day”

  1. Grayfox3d on September 19th, 2018 8:27 pm

    Great series win against the Astros, just too little too late at this point.

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