Game 14, Mariners at Royals

marc w · April 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yusei Kikuchi vs. Heath Fillmyer, 5:15pm

I’ve looked over the starting line-ups, and friends, I’m shook. I’m going to need to post the Royals starting line-up too, because I’m not sure I’ve seen the like of it, and I posted about the 2010 Seattle Mariners hundreds of times. I’m going to need a minute here….

Ok. What do you do when your opponent’s biggest strength is your big weakness? There are a number of things, really, but they break down into two major categories. First, you can work on cutting down the gap by improving whatever deficit you’ve got. Second, you can ignore that gap and instead lean even harder on whatever advantage you possess; you’ll let them have a big advantage in X, but you’ll hit ’em with some serious Y when the opportunity presents itself. The Mariners, as we’ve discussed extensively, are Dingermen the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1998. They are quite simply bludgeoning teams, making their own weaknesses in defense and relief pitching irrelevant. The Royals are one of baseball’s most punchless teams, with 7 HRs on the season, but that *undersells* their struggles at the plate. Their OBP is easily under .300, and what’s worse, it’s not just an early season slump. They were made for this. If you’re going to opt for “playing up your own strength and ignoring the deficit area” the implicit rule is that your strength and the opponent’s strength have to be roughly equivalent in importance. If not, well, you get this.

What’s that supposed to mean? I mean: Billy Hamilton, the offensively-challenged CF and stolen-base auteur is batting *second* tonight. You know, the spot where you’re supposed to put your best overall hitter. Actually Billy Hamilton! Hamilton sports a career OBP of .298, and what I’m trying to convey here, through bewildered laughter, is that in this line-up, that’s not half bad. #3 hitter Adalberto Mondesi’s career OBP is .274, and while he hit 14 dingers last year, his game’s more about speed. Clean-up hitter Jorge Soler is a perfectly fine prospect, but things pick up speed at the back of the order. #5 hitter Frank Schwindel is 1-12 with no walks in his brief career. Chris Owings put up a wRC+ of 51 last year in Arizona, and is 5-34 on the year with 13 Ks and 2 walks. #7 hitter Hunter Dozier has a career OBP of .274 as well. #8 hitter Cam Gallagher has fewer than 100 MLB PAs, but has yet to post a AAA wRC+ north of 90. And batting 9th, and making literally his first start ever, is Terrance Gore.

Terrance Gore has more career stolen based in MLB than he has plate appearences. This is because Gore is impossibly fast, and because Gore cannot hit. At all. Thus, he’s used as a pinch-runner, and, if need be, defensive replacement. With Gore, just as with Hamilton, the idea is to maximize their appearances on the basepaths by minimizing their plate appearances. He’s toiled in the minors for a while, amassing over 1900 PAs, and has a career SLG% of .273. He’s drawn walks, but essentially nothing good has come following Gore’s decision to swing a bat. The M’s are bringing a line-up that’s red hot, and the Royals are essentially mocking the idea of batting. When you get over the juxtaposition, it’s almost like performance art. It’s like a cooking competition, and one chef creates some impossibly intricate 10-course haute-cuisine meal, and the other submits a PB&J sandwich in which the peanut butter’s been replaced by drywall spackle. It’s sending Dan Vogelbach to compete against an Olympic gymnast in the floor routine, and having his entire routine comprised of standing still and chugging a beer.

The Royals definitely do like to run, and in that respect, they present a very different strategy, a differing idea of how to score runs. The M’s line-up is nearly as one-sided, I suppose, with four 1B/DH types (AND Domingo Santana), but with all eggs placed in a very different basket. It’s just that one of these strategies has a hell of a lot to do with run-scoring, particularly in 2019, and the other leads to you penciling in Terrance Gore’s name in the starting line-up, or batting Billy Hamilton second.

Health Fillmyer was just called up from AAA Omaha, and features a four-seamer without a ton of rise at 92-93, a little-used sinker, a change-up with decent sink, a so-so curve, and what looks like an interesting little slider. The slider’s fairly effective against righties, but they’ve torched his four-seam fastball. He’s been better from a results point of view against lefties, though that’s much more due to small-sample HR/FB and the like; he struggles to strike them out or to avoid bases on balls. Overall, Fillmyer doesn’t get enough Ks to offset so-so control, AND he’s been vulnerable to the long-ball. The only real hope here is the strong winds that have moved in to KC. I’m not sure what direction they’re blowing, but they blow in they could keep the M’s in the ballpark and, I don’t know, make soft fly balls off the bat of Hamilton/Owings/Gore more tricky to catch?

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

The Rainiers beat El Paso in their home opener last night. As Erik Swanson was called up just before the game, they had a bullpen day, and it went exceedingly well, with the R’s racking up 16 strikeouts. Of note, South African low-3/4 guy Taylor Scott getting 6 Ks in 3 perfect innings. Jose Lobaton homered, and while Nick Rumbelow continues to scuffle, he picked up the win.

Ljay Newsome would normally have the line of the night, going 5 IP with 11Ks (where’d that come from?) against Inland Empire, but he walked 2 and gave up an unearned run on 4 hits, so we’ve got to go with Logan Gilbert, who tossed 5 scoreless on only 1 hit with no walks and 9 Ks. Arkansas won in the 9th, 4-3, to give Parker Markel (god, I love saying that) his first win in the org.


2 Responses to “Game 14, Mariners at Royals”

  1. Stevemotivateir on April 10th, 2019 8:37 pm

    That was far closer than it should have been.

  2. HighBrie on April 10th, 2019 9:45 pm

    I feel Terrence Gore deserves a standing ovation. That was a brilliant way to stick the landing in your first ever start after so long playing a bit role.

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