Game 134, Yankees at Mariners – Trade Showdown

marc w · August 28, 2019 at 12:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Justus Sheffield vs. James Paxton, 1:10pm

It just had to happen, didn’t it? James Paxton returning to Seattle to face the big return the M’s got when they traded him to New York, Justus Sheffield. Like a few more trades between these two clubs, the immediate returns haven’t quite lived up to expectations on both sides. A rise in home runs and walks have pushed Paxton’s FIP over 4, and as usual, his ERA’s a touch higher. He’s getting strikeouts, and he’s talented enough to shut down even great line-ups on the right day, but there’ve been quite a few off days for him. He’s made a short stop on the IL, but health doesn’t seem to be his big problem. To the extent that any issue he has is “big” it’s mostly BABIP. With the M’s, he had real problems with men on base, pitching way, way worse if anyone was on each year from 2015-2018. That hasn’t been the issue in 2019; rather, his nobody-on performance has just dropped to match his struggles with men on. I’m not sure if he’s challenging hitters to an unhealthy degree, or if it really is just BABIP luck. Whatever the cause, it reminds me of 2016, the first year Paxton became PAXTON. He’s dropped his arm angle slightly, and he has more horizontal movement on his cutter, which has had worse results, but I think everything starts with his fastball.

The same is true for Justus Sheffield, of course. His slider could be an interesting pitch, and it kind of reminds me of Sean Manaea’s, but it’s kind of irrelevant if he can’t figure out how his fastball can play effectively at this level. Part of that is command; a big reason it’s not successful yet is that he’s throwing too many balls with it. But beyond that, it SHOULD be an effective pitch within the zone given his angle and velocity. I think he’s always going to have some issues with right-handed batters, but he’s got to learn to fight them to a draw. It hasn’t happened in his microscopic big league sample, but even the minor league track record shows it’s a lingering issue. It doesn’t need to be. I’m pretty sure deception can be taught, and I think the M’s need to work on that now. Guys who would kill to have Sheffield’s raw stuff – Ryan Yarbrough for one – have similar arm angles and are having success at the MLB level. It’s not exactly common, but then, neither are lefties working 94-95 from the left side with some sink.

I keep saying it, but this is a huge test for Sheffield, and it’s going to be great to watch how he attacks a line-up with righties like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gary Sanchez. We’ve seen some interesting signs from Yusei Kikuchi, although less of them last night, and now we need to see some adjustments from Sheff. The largest share of the burden here falls on the coaches. You can’t ask a young starter to just figure it out on his own. This is mostly a test of the M’s ability to make actionable adjustments on the fly.

1: Lopes, LF
2: Crawford, SS
3: Nola, 1B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Murphy, C
6: Vogelbach, DH
7: Moore, RF
8: Gordon, 2B
9: Broxton, CF
SP: Sheffield

Keon Broxton starts in CF as he appeals his 2-game suspension. Jake Fraley sits against a tough lefty, with righties Lopes/Moore in the OF alongside the righty Broxton.

The big news in the minors is that the Arkansas Travelers’ playoff game on Sept. 4th will be broadcast live on Root Sports in the Seattle area, live, at 5pm. With Brad Adam and Jerry Dipoto on the call, apparently. As I mentioned yesterday, the Travs were in fine form as Ian McKinney k’d 10 in 5 outstanding innings in Arkansas’ 3-2 win. Ljay Newsome gets the start for Arkansas today against Astros top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley.
Modesto beat Stockton 4-3 with two late runs. Down 3-2 in the 8th, Keegan McGovern homered off of one-time M’s prospect Trey Cochran-Gill, and then the Nuts got another run off of him in the 9th to win it. The sinkerballing Cochran-Gill was a part of the M’s 2014 draft class that included Ryan Yarbrough, and was shipped to Oakland for Evan Scribner.
Tacoma snapped a losing streak thanks to a great start from Sean Nolin, beating Fresno 4-1. Andrew Moore starts for the R’s tonight.
West Virginia are playing 2 after getting rained out yesterday.
Vancouver’s Damon Casetta-Stubbs starts for Everett tonight against Spokane.


One Response to “Game 134, Yankees at Mariners – Trade Showdown”

  1. Sowulo on August 29th, 2019 1:52 am

    After batting .538 over his last 16 games at Single A West Virginia, Julio Rodriguez is now batting .587 over his first 12 games at High A Modesto. Today he was 5-5 with 2-1B, 2-2B and 1-3B….and he’s only 18 years old. Hope he can grow to become one of the core group for many years to come.

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