Game 29, Rangers at Mariners – Justus Time

marc w · April 26, 2019 at 6:35 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yusei Kikuchi/Justus Sheffield vs. Shelby Miller, 7:10pm

The Rangers made some roster moves before the game, with the Rangers optioning Wisdom down to the minors and activating Odor to replace him. Odd strategy, but after last night’s game, I guess you have to think outside the box. Seriously, that’s an actual transaction and it is awesome, and please stop booing me.

The M’s own name-as-noun player, Justus Sheffield’s up with the club and he’ll see several innings today after the M’s have Yusei Kikuchi pitch an abbreviated start. This is part of the plan they put in place this winter to limit Kikuchi’s workload, but with the long layoff after the two games in Japan, they haven’t needed to implement it until now.

It opens the door to Sheffield, who looked impressive in the spring, but has struggled with his command mightily in Tacoma. He’s thrown 18 1/3 IP in the PCL and given up 13 hits and *14 walks* against 11 Ks. Command has never been his strong suit, but this is something else entirely. I’d like to blame the ball, but AAA is now using the MLB baseball as opposed to the different baseball used in the rest of the minor leagues. His best pitch is his slider, a swerving pitch at 85 with very good vertical drop. He’s got a change-up as well that’s lagged behind a bit, but may be improving. The command issues seem to be centered on his fastball, which comes in at 92-93-94. When he’s on, he can get strikeouts and grounders thanks to the natural sink on his pitches, which come from a lower-3/4 slot. My worry is that it’s a profile that could struggle with opposite-handed hitters, but we’ll see how the Rangers fare against him.

To make room for Sheffield, the M’s DFA’d reliever Shawn Armstrong, the interesting ex-Clevelander who looked off after coming back from an oblique injury in the early going. Here’s hoping the M’s can slip him through waivers. Of potential interest, Armstrong is at the top of the list on the M’s in fastball spin rate, with a legitimately impressive nearly 2,600 RPM. Unfortunately, he now joins several spin rate champs who’ve opened the season poorly – guys like Chris Stratton and Corbin Burnes.

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

Jarred Kelenic homered today for WV, supporting Logan Gilbert, who went 5 2/3 IP giving up 3 R on 4 H and he struck out 8.

New Mariner roving instructor Mike Cameron (wooo!) is in Arkansas today, working on OF defense and baserunning with the Travs.

The Rainiers are in a bit of a funk right now, falling to 7-14 after last night’s drubbing at the hands of Sacramento. Tacoma’s gone through a lot of pitchers, and signed Tyler Cloyd, who’ll make his seasonal debut and pitch a few innings. They also called up RP Reggie McLain, who’d been at Modesto, and it sounds like his velo’s ticked up this year like his old teammate Ljay Newsome. The M’s also appear to have signed former Mets SP Jon Niese, who hasn’t pitched since 2019.


3 Responses to “Game 29, Rangers at Mariners – Justus Time”

  1. MKT on April 27th, 2019 3:05 am

    Is this the first time the Mariners have used an “opener” — a pitcher designated to pitch only the first inning, and give way to another who will pitch more innings?

    I don’t remember them doing this before. (But maybe they did and I missed it.)

  2. matthew on April 27th, 2019 8:35 am

    I’m hoping Niese is able to pick up where he left off. That’s an extraordinary time without pitching…….

  3. heyoka on April 28th, 2019 2:33 pm

    I hear that 15-1 games are bad for your run differential.

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