Game 38, Mariners at Yankees

marc w · May 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Masahiro Tanaka, 3:35pm

The less said about Felix’s start, the better. I’ll just say that whatever secondaries Felix throws, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that his fastball(s) simply aren’t working. That’s been clear for a while, but he’s got to do something about it now. Develop a cutter, maybe, like Sabathia, or pitch backwards like…today’s Yankee starter, Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka came over from Japan with a reputation for having a very good fastball to pair with a solid splitter. Whether it’s the new usage pattern, age-related decline, or what have you, Tanaka’s lived up to exactly half of that billing. His splitter’s his bread and butter pitch and he throws a ton of them, and while it isn’t quite as successful now as it was back in 2014, it’s a good pitch. His fastball? Noooo, not so much. In his career, batters are *slugging* .620 against his four-seam. He went to a sinker for a while, but after it got torched in 2017, he went back to his four-seamer. Neither pitch is all that great, especially now that his velocity’s down in the 91 range. What’s remarkable though is that this has not been a disqualifying flaw. Tanaka just…doesn’t really throw it often. Between the two pitches, he’s been around 25% – 30% fastball usage for a while now, throwing 2/3 sliders and splitters. This hasn’t quite insulated him from the HR binge, and his splitter’s seen quite a few dingers in recent years. But there he is, putting up 2.5+ fWAR and RA9-WAR seasons pretty reliably. There’s a lesson in Tanaka’s stat page.

Marco Gonzales was coming off of his best two starts of the year before a crushing defeat on May 1. Was that just a case of running into a hot-hitting team at the wrong time? Or are teams learning to recognize his cutter? That’s been his bread and butter, but the Cubs hit it hard. Can he get back to inducing called strikes with his sinker or foul balls with that cutter? This is turning into an important start, as the M’s need stability from this spot, and Gonzales has been a pretty streaky pitcher in his M’s tenure. Marco struggled in Yankee Stadium last year, but of course this line-up looks nothing like the Bronx Bombers who got to him last June.

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

The M’s made a minor trade (no, really) recently, acquiring former Nationals RP Austin Adams for lower-level flyer Nick Wells, who’d regressed in the M’s system. Adams strikes out a ton of batters, but has issues with control. He throws a straight bowling-ball-esque four-seamer and has an excellent slider to pair with it. He’ll be in Tacoma for now, who made a bit of room by waiving 1B Joey Curletta, who’s since caught on with Boston.

In one of the least surprising news items I’ve seen recently, Modesto’s Ljay Newsome was named the California League pitcher of the Month for April. Well deserved.

Justin Dunn starts game 1 of a doubleheader between Arkansas and Amarillo today, and Tyler Cloyd starts for Tacoma against Reno – good day for a game at Cheney. Modesto faces San Jose, and West Virginia have the day off.


One Response to “Game 38, Mariners at Yankees”

  1. SeattleDan on May 7th, 2019 8:44 pm

    On the plus side, it’s already May 7th.

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