Game 13, Mariners at “Royals”

marc w · April 9, 2019 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Jakob Junis, 5:15pm

The M’s simply cannot stop hitting dingers, and after yesterday’s 5-spot, have established pretty conclusively that there isn’t a park in the game that can slow down the unceasing volleys from our Dingermen.

Yesterday, the Royals all but encouraged the M’s to slug them into submission by starting a pitcher who’s had HR troubles in the recent past. They’ve re-calibrated for today’s game, and instead st…:taps earpiece: whoops, no they’re doing the exact same thing again and hoping for a different outcome. If only there were a pithy saying to summarize this pattern of thought.

Today, the M’s face righty Jakob Junis, a former 29th-round pick from 2011 who featured a so-so fastball but an interesting slider and solid control. He slowly advanced up the chain, and has been a fairly solid SP on a team that could desperately use one. He’s posted average- to above-average K rates, which, for a K-starved rotation who’s best pitcher is a Rule 5 pitch-to-contact GB% maven, is a welcome sight. What’s more, though his FB only averages 91, it’s had interesting sinker-ish movement in the past, with well-below average rise. His slider really dives down, so the whole package could work together, but in this case movement isn’t destiny. Because of his location (I think?), Junis’ four-seamer doesn’t get GBs at all. It’s a FB pitch, and with below-average HR/FB rates, that’s made it a pitch that sluggers have feasted on, with SLG%-against in the high .500s over his first two years. He’ll work in a sinker, especially to lefties, and while slugging’s slightly lower against it, its own HR/FB ratio isn’t a whole lot better. By and large, Junis has been fine except for the fact that he can’t keep batters in the park with his fastballs. And now he’ll face the 2019 Seattle Mariners.

Junis changed up the spin axis and thus the movement on that four-seamer this year, giving it more useful spin, and thus pushing its vertical rise over 10″, which is considerable given it was under 8″ last year. Will that make a difference? I suppose it’s still down to where he locates it, but of course this isn’t a path towards fewer fly balls. It could increase whiff rate, and that’d be valuable, but if they make contact, look out.

Dan Szymborski has a post today at Fangraphs about the Reds’ playoff chances tanking due to their fast start. (For the record, the M’s chances have improved by 10 percentage points over their nugatory odds at the end of spring training, per Fangraphs.) That’s neither here nor there, of course, but Dan has a table in the post showing that the Reds team plate discipline, measured by the difference between their rate of swings at pitches IN the zone and pitches OUT of the zone has gotten quite a bit worse. But in that table, we find the Mariners are the offense that’s had the largest improvement in that same measure. 710am’s Lydia Cruz made the related point in this tweet, that several M’s have seen dramatic improvements in their out-of-zone swing rates; guys like Ryon Healy, Domingo Santana, and Dee Gordon in particular look like different/better hitters this year.

I’ll be up at Tacoma’s home opener, so won’t be able to track the dinger parade in this one. Go M’s.

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

Another Chris Sale start, another poor result and another disappointing average velo. The Sox lost in Toronto, with Sale averaging 92mph. I know many Boston fans shrugged off his poor start in Seattle, noting he’d had low velocities in some starts (particularly in April) before, but this is now a worrying trend. Sad for baseball.

Speaking of sad, we M’s fans often recall with rueful laughs the time in 2008 when the Mariners started long-time utility IF Miguel Cairo at *1B.* He had a lifetime SLG% of .361, and it was just .330 in that year. In that Boston/Toronto game, the Jays may have beaten it. Today, the Jays started newly-acquired IF/OF Alen Hanson, late of the Giants, and a one-time Pirates prospect at 1B. Hanson’s perhaps got a touch more pop, but he also has a career .268 OBP. He was once a glove-first SS prospect, and while he’s more of a 2B now, this is not at all what you want at 1B. I suppose this is what happens when the M’s corner the market on 1Bs.

The Rainiers host the El Paso Chihuahuas tonight in the home opener at Cheney Stadium. Sounds like Erik Swanson will get the start for the Rainiers.

Arkansas edged NW Arkansas 2-1 with a run in the 9th, making a winner of Wyatt Mills, who K’d all 4 batters he faced. Makes it easier to shrug off his ugly first appearance. Kyle Lewis HR’d for Arkansas as well. Justin Dunn takes the hill for the Travelers today.

Modesto dropped a Cal League pitcher’s duel 3-1 at Inland Empire last night. Luis Liberato hit another 2B to maintain his hot start. Ray Kerr took the loss, but the bullpen was excellent in keeping IE from adding on. No word on the Nuts’ starter tonight.

West Virginia lost to Lexington 6-1, as the Legends gave OF prospect Jarred Kelenic a golden sombrero. Julio Rodriguez had two hits and an amazing catch in CF, though. Tonight sees Logan Gilbert make his second start of the year. The M’s first-round pick last year, Gilbert pitched 4 scoreless in the first game of the year in 2019.


One Response to “Game 13, Mariners at “Royals””

  1. Sowulo on April 9th, 2019 8:48 pm

    Oh-oh! The M’s are in a slump! Only one dinger today….;-P

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