Game 71, Mariners at Twins

marc w · June 12, 2019 at 5:01 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Gerson Bautista/Tommy Milone vs. Jose Berrios, 5:10pm

It’s rough out there for us few, proud Mariners-watchers. A grand process is underway, I’m sure, but it doesn’t make spending 3 hours a night with them feel any less bizarre. After last night’s loss, the M’s are 28-42, a horrible record that feels worse both because of the M’s 13-2 start and because that start makes catching up to the Royals/Orioles/Marlins/Blue Jays for the #1 overall pick feel *almost* as impossible as winning a wild card. We can tune in to see how the young core is faring, but Mitch Haniger’s just out of the hospital, JP Crawford is still out, Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi are in free-fall, and even Brandon Brennan is slumping. I don’t know, friends.

Edwin Encarnacion’s been delightful, but that all but assures he’ll soon delight some other team. Dan Vogelbach’s righted the ship after a mediocre May, but even as his BB:K ratio is back over 1 in June, he’s not hitting for power. I’ll take it, to be clear, and it’s either his emergence or Omar Narvaez’s that’ll be the saving grace of this painful year. But that doesn’t make the current games must-see TV. Even in close games, like last night’s, it’s hard not to be pessimistic, and that’s a pretty rough way to enjoy baseball, and it’s a self-defeating kind of entertainment. The A’s won today, and are a game over .500; the Rangers – the actual RANGERS – are 6 games over. The M’s have finally built an enviable farm system, and they’ve got a handful of what seem likely extraordinary coaches, like AA manager Mitch Canham. I’m pretty certain they’ve got a bunch of players down there who’ll have some sort of big league career. That’s great, that’s a start. How will this org go about ensuring that those careers are good ones? How can they continue to develop players once they get to Seattle?

Jose Berrios pitches off of his sweeping, slurvy curve ball, a low-80s offering that breaks almost a foot gloveside, cutting a diagonal arc across the hitting zone. It’s a cool pitch; it’s effective and visually interesting, and the fact that he’s using it more than ever (and more than any other pitch) is understandable. But what makes Berrios a good young pitcher is the quality of his two fastballs, a four-seam and sinker. With plenty of armside movement thanks to his whippy, low-ish 3/4 motion, they’re a good counterpart to his breaking ball, and they help him pitch about as well against lefties as he does against righties, no small feat for a guy with his mechanics/profile. Unlike some of his teammates, he hasn’t gained a bunch of velocity this year. Instead, he’s succeeding by using his sneakily effective heaters to get strikes. Berrios had a decent walk rate, but he’s slashed it this year to under 5%. Whereas he used to throw fastballs away/off the plate to lefties, he’s challenging them this year. It’s working: he’s got a lower SLG% against with his fastballs than he does with his curve. He’s given up more HRs on the curve than he has on both his FBs combined, which is remarkable given the fact he uses the curve as a putaway pitch with two strikes. He’s given up *4* 2-strike dingers with the curve, and none off of his fastballs. I guess if you’re looking for a way to approach this battle, just target obvious counts and sit curve. That’s not ideal, as it means there are already 2 strikes, but hey, I’m trying to make myself watch this game. Cut me some slack.

1: Smith, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Encarnacion, DH
4: Vogelbach, 1B
5: Santana, RF
6: Narvaez, C
7: Gordon, 2B
8: Long, LF
9: Moore, SS
SP: Bautista, then Milone

Shed Long, LF? Why not. Seriously, how bad could it be? What would we see that we haven’t seen before? This gamer has been rather dark, and I apologize for that. It’s that kind of season, I suppose.

Bautista throws 98, Milone throws 88. For that reason alone, I kind of like this pairing for opener and starter. I’m still dumbfounded that Milone has now tied Yusei Kikuchi in fWAR, and has a lower DRA than Kikuchi, per BP.


2 Responses to “Game 71, Mariners at Twins”

  1. LongDistance on June 14th, 2019 1:00 am

    We few, we unhappy few, will certainly witness the team sinking under .400 by the All-Star break. And going to the park will become a philosophical decision. Speaking strictly for myself, one of the fundamental reasons for buying a ticket to watch a major league game has always been to be able to have a chance see the incredible level of play. To go watch them right now, is like being promoted to buy full-price tickets to the Bolshoi to watch prospective divas stumbling around. There should be, for this, a season discount. Or else they could create a new league designation. Major Rebuild League. At the very least, they could get the beer prices down and help assuage the existential pains.

  2. MKT on June 15th, 2019 6:48 pm

    “We few, we unhappy few”

    Excellent quote! Also, from earlier in the same play: “The game’s afoot”.

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