Game 11, Mariners at White Sox

marc w · April 7, 2019 at 11:13 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Wade LeBlanc vs. Ivan Nova, 11:10am

It may not shock anyone who’s watched more than one Mariner game this year, but Rob Arthur’s found some solid evidence that the baseball “juiced” again, meaning that the drag coefficient is lower than it was on average in 2018. It’s essentially the 2017 ball, the one that was used in the year that baseball set records for single-season HRs…by a mile.

It always felt both unfair and somehow fitting that the M’s assembled a team around fly ball defense especially in 2016 to try and wring more out of their pitching staff by targeting team-wide BABIP JUST as the ball started flying further than ever. Now that they stopped caring about defense (and seriously guys, you could try caring at least a tiny bit) and just getting older or more one-dimensional sluggers, they accidentally catch another wave of drag-less superballs and race out to a fast start. It’s just perfectly Mariners: from one point of view, it’s evidence that luck really does all even out. It was bad in one year, good in another – even steven, right? Well, no, if we apply an RE24 or WPA lens to this, it’s kind of a disaster. The years in which the M’s were focused on competing for a playoff spot, their luck spoils whatever chance they had (and let’s be clear: better BABIP luck or fewer HRs-allowed wouldn’t allow them to catch the 2017/18 Astros) and now that their luck’s turned around, it’s in a step-back season that might see several solid performers flipped for prospects.

That’s not to say any of this fast start is worthless. The M’s have been compelling to watch, even as their bullpen continues to take on water and even as their defense should come with Yakety Sax playing in the background. The newcomers have blossomed beyond even the most optimistic expectations; Jay Bruce hit 9 HRs last year in over 350 PAs. He’s at 5 now in just 45. That could help the M’s get something for him at the deadline, or hang onto him for the year and enjoy the enjoyment – either is better than the expectations that the M’s would simply be babysitting him until he was DFAd or his contract expired. But even better, it’s starting to provide some evidence that the shake-up in player development and coaching may be doing something. No, half the line-up won’t maintain ISOs over .400, no matter how low the drag coefficient gets. But if guys like Ryon Healy and Tim Beckham post career-best ISOs without sacrificing plate discipline? Well, that starts to look interesting.

Today, the M’s face ex-Yankee and Pirates righty Ivan Nova. Nova had a brief renaissance, as so many pitchers do, under the tutelage of Ray Searage in Pittsburgh, by cutting his walk rate significantly. He’s still a sinker/slider-ish curve guy who tries to get grounders instead of striking people out, but the whole skillset works much better when he keeps his walk rate at 5% or lower. He’s mixed back in some four-seam fastballs, and this year he’s throwing more of a slider that had been mothballed for several years. It’s an interesting arsenal; the sinker looks OK with solid armside run, but only comes in at 90-91. The slider has almost perfect sidespin, so it doesn’t sink compared to his sinker at all – it just has different velo and horizontal movement. The curve’s getting a bit more depth, though it had at least as much back in his Yankee days…back when he was getting destroyed by the AL.

1: Smith, CF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Santana, LF
4: Encarnacion, 1B
5: Narvaez, C
6: Beckham, SS
7: Vogelbach, DH
8: Healy, 3B
9: Gordon, 2B
SP: LeBlanc

The big story in the minors today is Justus Sheffield’s org debut, which’ll kick off around 1:05pm today in Sacto. Fire up, M’s fans. The R’s lost last night 11-5.

Julio Rodriguez went 2-4 with a walk, and Jerred Kelenic walked three times in WV’s 6-5 win yesterday. Arkansas won 8-5 to take three straight from Tulsa, as Kyle Lewis went 2-3 with 2 BBs, and Jordan Cowan hit his first HR of the year. Modesto won 3-2 in 10 innings, as closer Sam Delaplane shook off a game-tying 9th inning HR to win it with 2 innings of relief in which he struck out 6.

Anthony Misievicz starts for Arkansas, Nick Wells for Modesto, and Oliver Jaskie for West Viriginia.


7 Responses to “Game 11, Mariners at White Sox”

  1. Sowulo on April 7th, 2019 1:18 pm

    Game time in China? 2:10am. It has been worth losing a night’s sleep to watch this one. ;-D

  2. enazario on April 7th, 2019 1:23 pm

    This offense has been stoopid.

  3. heyoka on April 7th, 2019 5:35 pm

    Almost 7% of the way through the season and the team’s slg is over .500

  4. Stevemotivateir on April 7th, 2019 6:17 pm

    Some offensive regression is to be expected, but there’s room for regression. They’ll get a boost defensively when Seager returns and when Bishop replaces a current veteran’s spot.

    They’ll also get Armstrong back fairly soon, but if all they really need are a couple of relievers to make this a more dangerous team, step back year or not, they should go for it. It’s not like they’d have to sacrifice top prospects to address the bullpen.

  5. enazario on April 7th, 2019 7:53 pm

    Agree. Though it sure is fun watching them now.

  6. demon777 on April 8th, 2019 12:31 am

    Who is bishop going to replace? Unless you are just saying he’ll be the 4th OF?

  7. Stevemotivateir on April 8th, 2019 10:28 am

    Yes, Bishop would be the fourth outfielder, but someone else would still have to be moved to make room.

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