Game 64, Astros at Mariners

marc w · June 4, 2019 at 5:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Andrew Moore vs. Wade Miley, 7:10pm

The M’s welcome back their one-time prospect, Andrew Moore, who’s making just his third start in the organization, having had a great start and a so-so one in AA. This was, of course, Yusei Kikuchi’s spot, but the M’s decided to skip him instead of having another of those abbreviated starts where he acts as a kind of opener.

Moore was seen as an overachiever, a guy without a big fastball or breaking balls who succeeded through determination, vertical movement, and a willingness to go after anyone. That produced remarkably low walk rates at times, but he was essentially undone by home runs in his brief tenure with Seattle back in 2017. Traded to the Rays, he faltered; he somehow gave up 26 runs in his 17 1/3 IP, including 9 HRs. Waived by the Rays, he latched on with the Giants, but after another disastrous start for them, he was on the market again, and the M’s decided to give him another shot. When he was first coming up, he threw an arrow-straight four-seam fastball with tons of vertical rise. This wasn’t the product of elite spin, but rather elite spin *efficiency* that took all of his average-ish spin and put it to use as movement. That’s the key to his incredibly low GB%, but all of that elevated contact (and there’s a lot of contact, as he wasn’t able to miss many bats) resulted in HRs. I’m curious to see if he’s taken anything from his time in the Rays org, or if he’d just like to forget that ever happened.

Speaking of spin rates, I have an article up at on the weird fact that batters seem to be adjusting to high-spin fastballs. In the past several years, all of the talk about “spin rate” and its desirability was borne out by data: batters’ production tanked if the spin rate was over 2,400 RPM, with higher whiff rates AND lower HR rates. In 2019, that’s changed, and pretty dramatically. HR rates for high-spin fastballs are now higher than the rates for medium-spin fastballs, and while the high-spin FBs still take the cake in whiff rate, the gap is shrinking. Is this small sample oddness, or are batters adjusting to spin? It’ll be interesting to follow this throughout the year.

The draft continues, and be sure to check out JY’s posts below. All told, I don’t really know anything, but I’m still struck by the focus on pitching, and collegiate pitching at that. The club could use some up the middle infielders, but hey, they’ve actually seen/scouted players and I’m just a pessimist on the internet. LookoutLanding’s draft coverage has been good and extensive, and you should check that out, too. Gotta say, I wasn’t thrilled when a NL scout told LL that 1st rounder George Kirby reminded him of Kyle Hendricks or Mike Fiers, but who knows…you’d certainly take those results, even if the comp makes you think a bit less of the raw stuff than other scouting reports. We’ll see.

1: Bishop, CF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Encarnacion, 1B
4: Santana, LF
5: Narvaez, C
6: Seager, 3B
7: Beckham, DH
8: Long, 2B
9: Moore, SS
SP: Andrew Moore

I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but last night’s loss featured a remarkable play that’s somehow emblematic of the M’s in 2019. With runners on the corners, Yuli Gurriel hit a slow chopper to Moore’s right. Moore quickly grabbed it and threw home to try and get Alex Bregman, but C Omar Narvaez was running up the first base line, anticipating a 6-4-3 DP chance. Moore’s play was graceful and well-executed – the throw was on the money, even though he was off-balance, and it was in time to get Bregman…if anyone had been there to catch it. You understand Narvaez’s decision-making too. Catchers are supposed to back up 1B for plays on the IF, and with one out, the M’s had a chance to turn 2 and get out of the inning. It reminded me a lot of the M’s strategy building a fly-ball oriented staff and limiting BABIP only to watch the HR surge make that strategy look foolish. Or implementing a step-back that required their young, solid core to really step up and improve. Or creating a ball-in-play, average-and-defense team when strikeouts and dingers made that strategy less effective than it would’ve been in previous eras. Or picking up relievers coming off of bad seasons on the cheap and waiting for regression, and instead getting a lot of injured players, or watching as regression instead came for players they were banking on to be leaders. It’s not that this FO is out and out bad. They showed great footwork going into the hole. They’ve employed some good strategies, or things I would’ve wanted them to do. Their throw was accurate, and had some oomph behind it despite their momentum taking them away from the target. It’s just that no one was there.


3 Responses to “Game 64, Astros at Mariners”

  1. don52656 on June 5th, 2019 10:07 am

    I really don’t understand the reasoning by those on the video defending Narvaez’s decision to try to back up a possible throw at 1B. In that situation, on a groundball to the infield, there are three possible plays to be made, and one of them is to throw home. There is no way in the world that Narvaez could judge instantly that the groundball had double-play potential and justify the decision to back up at 1B. He absolutely has to remain at home to field a possible play at the plate.

    My huge problem with all this is that these things are happening to the Mariners at a major league level, and all I ever hear from Servais and the rest of the management team is excuses and explanations. There never seems to be any attempt to hold players accountable for just checking out of a game mentally and giving runs and games away. Whether it’s failure to cover a base, or losing track of how many outs there are, or letting two runners score on a double-steal attempt….it’s just symptomatic of an organization that doesn’t seem to be able to teach fundamentals and doesn’t care to hold players accountable for their mental errors.

    Maybe it’s time for someone to hold Servais accountable for his (lack of) action….

  2. heyoka on June 10th, 2019 4:50 am

    Encarnacion has 20 HR.
    Obviously good for his trade value.

  3. Sowulo on June 10th, 2019 9:39 pm

    I just don’t enjoy this brand of video game baseball they are playing right now. Good Grief, Ketel Marte hit his 16th today–he’s on pace to hit 40 this season.

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