Game 20, Indians at Mariners

marc w · April 16, 2019 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Leake vs. Shane Bieber, 7:10pm

Soooo, the M’s are in a bit of a losing streak. Their once unstoppable offense has been slowed considerably, though that’s against some of the better pitchers in the league. Tonight’s opponent hasn’t pitched all that long, but is aiming to join that group, and after a solid 2018, particularly down the stretch, he’s been brilliant thus far in 2019.

Shane Bieber, a righty, has a four seam fastball averaging a touch over 93, and his best pitch is a hard slider around 85-86. He’s also got a big breaking curve that has serious drop considering it’s thrown at 80mph. His biggest asset is his control, as he’s limited walks at every step in pro ball, and a vanishingly small walk rate in Cleveland last year. What’s been surprising is the extent to which Bieber’s gotten strikeouts. He’s striking out batters at higher rates now than he ever did in the minors.

This both is and is not reminiscent of Yusei Kikuchi. Stuff-wise, they’re almost dead ringers. They rely on the same three pitches, with the slider the best of the bunch for both guys. Each averages 93 and change on their rising four seam, though Bieber adds in more armside run. And as I’ve said, while control wasn’t Kikuchi’s calling card in Japan, he’s been quite stingy with free passes in Seattle.

So why is Kikuchi struggling a bit to put hitters away, and why can Bieber do so despite throwing the same pitches at basically the same speed? How can Bieber get guys to miss his FB while they put it in play against Kikuchi? That’s what I’ll be looking for tonight. Kikuchi got better as the night went on yesterday, using his curve especially well to start putting guys away, but he got in trouble in the first giving up hits because batters put the ball in play against his fastball so often – the 0-2 pitch to Hanley Ramirez was a frustrating example.

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

The Rainiers are in El Paso tonight, with Tyler Danish on the mound against Padres prospect Cal Quantrill.

Ricardo Sanchez leads Arkansas against NW Arkansas.

Austin Hutchison will start game 1 of a twin bill for Modesto as they face Visalia.

Clay Chandler’s on the mound in West Virginia, trying to keep up with teammate Logan Gilbert, who tossed another gem last night.


2 Responses to “Game 20, Indians at Mariners”

  1. Stevemotivateir on April 16th, 2019 7:07 pm

    Healy got robbed of another extra base hit last night, but he’s been chasing a lot more garbage lately. It would be good to see him remember how to lay off outside pitches like he did in those first 3 or 4 series.

  2. drw on April 17th, 2019 11:18 am

    So, Marc, what did you conclude about Bieber? He dominated that first inning (8 pitches, all strikes) and then the second inning was a whole new story, but he battled through it.

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