Game 112, Mariners at Astros – Great, THESE Guys Again

marc w · August 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Yusei Kikuchi vs. Wade Miley, 5:10pm

I don’t think there’s a better summary of the MLB season for Seattle than this pair of starters. Jerry Dipoto traded for Miley upon taking the reins in late 2015, but that did not turn out well, as Miley’s HR troubles sunk his effectiveness. After another disastrous year in Baltimore, he remade himself for a half a season in Milwaukee, and has been quietly remarkable for Houston, a team that often seems to do these transformations in their sleep.

Meanwhile, Yusei Kikuchi looked like a sneaky-great pick-up. He had solid velocity, an odd, halting delivery that ought to mess with batters’ timing, and a great curveball. The Astros watched Charlie Morton leave and replaced him with Wade Miley? In comparison, the M’s decision to acquire Kikuchi seemed aggressive, especially as the club shed salary the rest of the offseason. Kikuchi has, sadly, not been the kind of player the M’s thought they were getting. I’m sure that player is inside him somewhere, and I’m not sure where the blame lies for this bargain-basement version we’ve watched compile a 5.61 FIP, a 5.21 ERA, and a 6.87 DRA :shudders:. The HR ball has bitten Kikuchi, just as it used to trouble Miley. But it’s more than that: Kikuchi isn’t missing the bats he should, and his walk rate’s a bit high, a real liability in this high-HR game. That curve that we first saw befuddle Joey Votto back in the spring is now a liability: batters are hitting .327 with a .673 SLG% off of it. His four-seam fastball has been an enjoyable experience for batters as well; they’re slugging over .600 off of his primary pitch.

Miley had problems with his four-seam and sinker at times, and thus the key to his resurrection as a MLB starter was to essentially relegate them to fill-in duty and turn his seldom-used cutter into his primary fastball. Hey, it worked for Brandon McCarthy for a while, and it really worked for Roy Halladay. Now, he uses his four-seamer almost as a put-away pitch, trying to sneak it OVER barrels that get used to his straight, sinking cutter. I don’t know how Kikuchi and the M’s plan to adjust things, but it’s worth looking into emulating. The one pitch that’s worked well for Kikuchi is his slider, so he can spin the ball a bit. Maybe a cutter might get batters off the four-seam, or maybe he can just re-work his curve. In any event, he’s got to do something.

1: Smith, RF
2: Crawford, SS
3: Nola, 2B
4: Santana, DH
5: Vogelbach, 1B
6: Beckham, LF
7: Seager, 3B
8: Murphy, C
9: Broxton, CF
SP: Kikuchi

Austin Nola, #3 hitter. Wow. Seriously, it’s been great watching the kind of success the long-time MiLB vet has had both in Tacoma and now Seattle.


2 Responses to “Game 112, Mariners at Astros – Great, THESE Guys Again”

  1. heyoka on August 2nd, 2019 7:25 pm

    The bad news beariners

  2. Sowulo on August 4th, 2019 8:51 am

    What’s the over/under on how many more times they will be no-hit this year?

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