Game 141, Mariners at Astros – Staring Into the Void

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

Marco Gonzales vs. Wade Miley, 5:10pm

How did you like the Texas League playoff game? Made for a nice change from line-ups like, uh, the one the M’s are rolling out tonight, but of course even the AA game was a pitchers duel. The Travs pulled out a win late against Tulsa’s bullpen, and we all got to see how Jarred Kelenic works an at-bat. Root’s replayed it a few times, including this afternoon.

This is not a shock, given how good Houston is, but the M’s are 1-12 against the divisional bullies this season. They’ve lost at home, they’ve lost in Texas. They’ve lost extra-inning games and blowouts, and seven in a row to Houston overall. We kind of expect Gerrit Cole or Justin Verlander to dominate, but it just doesn’t seem to matter who they throw out there. I’ve mentioned it before, but there’s something especially exasperating about facing Wade Miley with the Astros. We saw this guy in Seattle, and we saw him after that in Baltimore. That should’ve been it; he had pitched his way out of the league. He was an ex-promising pitcher, soon to be an ex-pitcher entirely. And then he was back, pitching well for a playoff team and logging actual playoff innings in 2018. Now he’s pitching to an ERA in the low 3s despite mediocre K:BB ratios in the year of the home run. Do you remember how many HRs he allowed in Seattle and Baltimore?

How much of this is really due to him, though? Not all of it, not with a super-low BABIP that must have something to do with the great defense behind him. The Crawford Boxes look remarkably close to home plate, but Houston’s somehow a neutral-to-pitcher friendly park, even in this, the year of the juiced ball. But then again, there’s Wade Miley with really good exit velocities-against, including one of the lowest fly ball/line drive exit velocities of any starter. There’s Miley with that low BABIP for the second year in a row, despite playing on a different team in a different league. Both Miley and Gonzales have given up plenty of unearned runs, but they pull Miley’s RA/9 up from ‘amazing’ to merely ‘good.’ Marco’s RA/9 is again over 5, which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising for a player in the bottom half of qualified starters in terms of the hard-hit contact he allows. He challenges batters, and that’s tough to do in 2019. He has absolutely been harmed by the likes of Domingo Santana and Tim Beckham, and it makes it so hard to make heads or tails out of his season, and how we should see him for 2020 and 2021.

I guess I’m feeling a lot of that confusion about the M’s as a whole right now. It’s great to see Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop up with the team, and I know their cold starts don’t mean a whole lot, but given how challenging it is to make sense of AAA stat lines (thanks to the same juiced ball problem), I’d appreciate them demonstrating some aptitude against MLB pitching, just to settle my nerves. John Trupin’s got a great post at LL using a few different all-in-one batting stats to gauge how well hitters like Kelenic and Fraley did this year, and that helps. But with Crawford out following a really up-and-down second half, and with Fraley slumping…I guess I thought we’d know more about how 2020 would look for M’s fans at this point. Kelenic and Julio Rodgriguez blew expectations out of the water, and really are two of the best prospects in the game. John Sickels top 100 list currently has them at 14th and 18th, respectively. For the first time in a while, the M’s can envision a homegrown core. But it’s still a little ways away, and it would help a lot to figure out who’s going to be flanking that core, and who’ll be holding down the fort until the cavalry arrive. That’s why Crawford, Fraley, Justus Sheffield, Mitch Haniger, and Marco are so important, and why it’s so frustrating that we haven’t really seen them all healthy and performing at the same time.

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

Wade freaking Miley, I mean really.


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