Game 139, Mariners at Cubs

marc w · September 2, 2019 at 10:32 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Justus Sheffield vs. Kyle Hendricks, 11:20am

Happy Labor Day to all of you.

The M’s head to Chicago for a series that still means something to the Cubs. The M’s split 4 in Texas where both teams were just trying to see some of their September call-ups and avoid injuries. Unfortunately, the M’s didn’t quite manage that, as SS JP Crawford injured his right hamstring on Thursday and/or Friday, and he’s been sent back to Seattle for further tests, which is never a good thing. You have to assume that Crawford’s 2019 is now over. Getting Braden Bishop back from that lacerated spleen was good to see, and the ex-Husky drew a bases-loaded walk in yesterday’s easy win, but Crawford’s growth is exponentially more important to the M’s in 2020 – 2021. Please get healthy JP, and please, M’s – just rest him up. We’ll be fine if he doesn’t come off the IL as soon as the 10-day period is over.

So, Justus Sheffield’s back for his first start since that intriguing/frustrating/encouraging outing against the Yankees. For the first time in his very brief MLB tenure, he looked like a pitcher who could be an effective starting pitcher. He used his slider to get whiffs against right-handed batters, while sneaking strikes looking with his fastball. This Cubs line-up is much less righty-dominant than the Yanks’ was, with Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber all hitting lefty. But it’s a line-up with a lot of power, and so it’s imperative that Sheffield avoid spots with the fastball that batters can elevate and drive. The HR that Mike Ford hit off of him in Seattle wasn’t in a terrible location, but he muscled it out of the yard. If there’s any saving grace, it’s that that ball probably would be an out in deep right in Chicago.

Kyle Hendricks is a remarkable soft-tossing righty who’s thrived in the age of the juiced ball. He generally uses just a sinker, a four-seam fastball and a change-up, none of which regularly exceed 88-89. While he’s given up a few HRs, he limits walks, and then a combination of a great defense and weak contact help him limit base hits. It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t *look* sustainable, but he’s been doing it his entire career, and is closing in on 1000 innings pitched.

1: Smith, RF
2: Fraley, CF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Murphy, C
5: Vogelbach, 1B
6: Moore, SS
7: Gordon, 2B
8: Bishop, LF
9/SP: Sheffield

I’d say playing Bishop in LF is a good way to reduce any value he could add to the club, but that’s a quibble. Frankly, Fraley needs these ABs and looks in CF more right now. The M’s need to figure out who their starting CF will be next year, and Bishop may be a 4th OF. The bigger question is what to do with Mallex Smith, but they’ve seen plenty of Smith, and precious little of Fraley, so c’mon Jake, show us something.


One Response to “Game 139, Mariners at Cubs”

  1. LongDistance on September 3rd, 2019 8:56 am

    Bad Karma being what it is, the only thing I would get a kick out of now would be to see in the home stretch the M’s absolutely wreck Oakland’s wildcard chances.

    Pretty miserable misery loves company attitude. But hey… 2019.

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