Game 10, Mariners at White Sox

marc w · April 6, 2019 at 11:12 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Leake vs. Lucas Giolito, 11:10am

The M’s now have had two different players make three errors in an inning on the young season. Last year, Jerry Dipoto talked a lot about building an offense that looked more like a 1970s style low-strikeout-high-ball-in-play group and less like a three-true-outcomes modern group.With the rebuild on, their offense has now moved into the 21st century and slugs tons of dingers even if they whiff more than they did last year. All in all, the change has been a positive one, at least early on. But the offense wasn’t the only group trying to turn back the clock to the 80s or so. The pitching staff is now an extremely anachronistic group, with starters throwing slower than other clubs and, through the early going, pitching to contact like no other team in the game. They’ve got the highest percentage of balls in play in the league. That…that seems counterproductive when your defense looks like this group does. But: dingers.

Lucas Giolito was one of the best high school pitching prospects ever coming out of Harvard-Westlake HS, and by 2014-15 he was carving through the minors with high K% low walk rates and dominating with mid 90s velo and a big curve. Injuries and the high minors presented bigger challenges, and suddenly his K% kept dropping and his walk rate increased, the product of rapidly declining velocity and command. He was still an uber-prospect, so he came over from the Nats org with Reynaldo Lopez for Adam Eaton, and the rebuilding White Sox sent him into their rotation. The results have been…not good. Giolito has a career K/9 of 6.49 and a BB/9 of 4.20. That’s borderline unplayable, but the HR/9 of 1.55 just seems like insult to perhaps-undiagnosed-injury. His velocity has dropped from 98 in HS to 95-96 in the Nats org to 92 or so in the first half of last year.

He had a great high-rising over-the-top fastball, but batters got used to it and hit it hard, especially when it came in at 92. With the lower velo, his vertical rise dropped and so the Sox seem to have made a decision to work in a sinker to replace the declining four-seamer. It didn’t help too much, and I and many other observers were pretty much ready to write him off as an unfortunate story of injuries and lack of stuff getting in the way of what had been a meteoric rise. But something started happening down the stretch. Some of that velocity started to creep back, and his effective spin starting improving. He’d occasionally switch back to the four-seamer as his primary FB. These were tentative steps, and after an encouraging August, he collapsed in September, but it was *something* to look for in 2019 on a team that would probably be bad yet again.

In his first start, he didn’t throw the sinker once, going with a a rejuvenated four-seamer with over 11″ of rise. It averaged 94mph, and he touched 95-96. He struck out 8 and walked just 1 in 6 2/3 IP. It was about as encouraging as it could be, but it was just one game. This’ll be an interesting one; Giolito should still be HR-prone with a rising FB and a tiny home park. Hopefully, the M’s make him work and get into some hitters’ counts. They’ll be much more of a challenge than the Royals were, but it’ll be interesting to see if Giolito’s on his way to a rebound season.

1: Smith, CF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Santana, LF
4: Bruce, 1B
5: Encarnacion, DH
6: Beckham, SS
7: Healy, 3B
8: Murphy, C
9: Moore, 2B
SP: Leake

Dee Gordon drew walks in BOTH of his PAs yesterday, but tweaked his groin diving back on a pick-off attempt. Guess he’ll get the day off to let it heal.

The Rainiers came back to beat Sacramento 6-5 on a go-ahead HR from Joey Curletta last night. Ex-White Sox prospect Tyler Danish takes the hill for Tacoma in Sacramento tonight.

Arkansas beat up on Tulsa, winning 9-4 behind LHP Ricardo Sanchez’s 5 scoreless IP with 5 Ks and no walks, and 4 HRs by the offense. Dom Thompson-Williams hit two of those. Only blemish was a disastrous 2/3 IP from Wyatt Mills, the Gonzaga product, who’s looked off after dominating in the Cal League last year. Newcomer Zac Grotz, late of the Mets org (and drafted by Houston), gets the start today.

Modesto moved to 2-0 with another classic Cal League game, winning 11-8 in 11 innings in Lancaster. Luis Liberato hit his 2nd HR in as many nights. 2017 draft pick Austin Hutchison starts for the Nuts today.

West Virginia dropped a pitcher’s duel, 3-2, last night. Kelenic and Rodriguez each had a single, and Brent Honeyman hit a 2R HR for the Power, but the Greenville drive leveled things up and then walked it off in the 9th. Today, Ryne Inman gets the start. The 2015 draft pick had an up and down year for Clinton last year; we’ll see how he takes to the Sally league.


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