Game 19, Mariners at Rangers – Kyle’s House

marc w · August 11, 2020 at 5:11 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Mike Minor, 6:05pm

After a nice easy victory in the Rangers’ new park, the M’s are back at it with their ace facing veteran starter, Mike Minor. It was going to be interesting to see if Kyle Seager’s long-standing success in Arlington would follow him a few miles to the new Globe Life Field, and a grand slam would seem to settle the matter. Wherever it is, whatever you call it, the park the Rangers play in is Kyle’s House.

Minor’s been one of two remarkably good (cheap) free agent pick-ups by the Rangers. After years with the Braves and then a relief season with the Royals, the Rangers picked him up and converted him back to starting. He rewarded them with an above average season in only 157 innings, using good control and enough barrel-avoidance to run a .257 BABIP. Much of this is attributed to his very high-spin fastball, which he rode to a 6 (or 4) WAR season, depending on if you like RA9-based WAR or FIP-based WAR in 2019. The out-of-the-running Rangers thought about dealing him, but when their other FA pick-up, Lance Lynn, made a run at the Cy Young award, they thought they’d keep both and see where they stood in 2020.

Like a few pitchers we’ve seen – including Justin Dunn last night! – Minor’s velocity is down pretty noticeably this year. He averaged 92.8 last year on his fastball, but only 90.7 this year. Remember that velo is generally lowest in April and *peaks* in August with the warmer weather, and it’s got to be a bit of a concern. It’s coincided with an upward trend in his BABIP and two pretty poor starts his last two times taking the ball: he’s given 13 hits and 11 runs in 10 2/3 IP.

Minor also throws a change and slider, each at 27% of his pitches. He’s got a curve he’s used more in the past, so he does have a real four-pitch mix. The lefty has very even platoon splits in his lengthy career.

Justin Dunn worked around some wildness to have his best start yet last night, working 6 innings for his first big league W. As I alluded to above, though, he sat at 90 mph on his four-seam fastball, down significantly from previous starts. We’ve gone through worrying about velo in Arlington before, but it’s something to watch. Of course, what hitters do with the pitch is more important than its velocity, and it was fascinating to see how different the pitch played. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that his lack of command/control with the fastball meant that hitters didn’t swing at it. The Rangers broadcast made a big deal of the fact that he hadn’t given up a hit on the pitch, but that wasn’t because it’s some amazingly hard-to-hit offering: he just couldn’t find the zone, and batters just walked instead. Coming in, batters swung at about 30% of his fastballs. Last night, it was just about 50% (24 of 50), and since it was coming in with below-average oomph, they put a ton of those fastballs into play.

It worked last night, in part because Dunn was able to get two absolutely huge strikeouts after allowing the first two batters to reach in the 5th. But those were his only Ks; he’s sitting at 8 on the year, and has still walked more than he’s K’d. This is concerning, as nice as it was to see his fight in the 5th-6th. I’ll be curious to see if that FB velo was the result of a conscious decision to allow more balls in play/fewer walks, or just a one-game blip after what amounts to a long road trip for 2020 (the Seattle-to-Texas flights have to be about the longest travel in the Covid-sports-world).

1: Crawford, SS
2: Moore, RF
3: Lewis, CF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Nola, C
6: Long, 2B
7: White, 1B
8: Gordon, LF
9: Lopes, DH
SP: Gonzales

Lots of moves around the league today. The M’s have picked up Seth Frankoff, who pitched a few games for the Cubs a few years back, and who spent 2018-2019 starting in Korea for the Doosan Bears. In his limited views in the bigs, Frankoff has a sinker and fourseamer around 92, a cutter at 88, and a curve. He didn’t show it for Chicago, but he’s also got a change-up with plenty of armside run.

The Rangers picked up ex-Reds slugger Derek Dietrich a few days ago, assigning him to their alternate site. But they’ve called him up for tonight’s game, which perhaps makes some sense, as many Rangers starters like Rougned Odor, are really struggling at the plate. They’ve also brought up pitcher Wes Benjamin, optioning Jimmy Herget, who pitches last night, along with rookie Anderson Tejeda.

The biggest news of the day was M’s prospect Austin Shenton taking a George Kirby pitch *over Cheney’s CF wall*. This is such a rare, improbable feat that I wouldn’t have believed it had News Tribune writer Lauren Smith not got the video. Rainiers’ radio guy Mike Curto’s done a lot of sleuthing over the years about batters who’ve homered over the tall wall that rises at 425 feet at Cheney. The first absolute no-doubt HR over the wall was hit by AJ Zapp, the R’s first baseman, in 2004. The very next year, M’s prospect Shin-Soo Choo hit another one, in a game attended by your humble scribe, because King Felix was the R’s starting pitcher. That game was played with a powerful wind blowing directly out, a factor that helped Choo’s drive immensely, and which contributed to an off-night by Felix standards (he gave up 2 wind-aided HRs, and walked 3 to just 2 Ks in 7 IP).

Other than those two in-game bombs, Curto mentions that just two players have done it *in BP/practice*. The first was Jose Canseco of the old Tacoma Tigers, and Jay Buhner in 2001, when he was on a rehab assignment. Shenton’s bomb didn’t have wind assistance, and while it wasn’t in a real game environment, it was a hell of a lot closer to it than batting practice. Given the height of the wall, that’s gotta be nearing the 460′ foot or so HR that the Nats Juan Soto hit in New York the other night. Amazing.


4 Responses to “Game 19, Mariners at Rangers – Kyle’s House”

  1. Stevemotivateir on August 11th, 2020 7:49 pm

    Crawford has quietly been one of the most consistent players.

  2. Westside guy on August 11th, 2020 7:50 pm

    KLew gets down the line fast!

  3. Stevemotivateir on August 11th, 2020 7:59 pm

    He does. Not bad at all for a reconstructed knee.

  4. Stevemotivateir on August 11th, 2020 8:35 pm

    Coming into tonight Crawford was slashing .286/.400/.365 with a 14.7 BB%, 10.7 K%, a .327 BABIP, and a 129 wRC+. Solid defense to boot.

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