Game 45, Mariners at Diamondbacks

marc w · September 12, 2020 at 2:35 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Justus Sheffield vs. Zac Gallen, 5:10pm

Last night’s loss seems to have officially ended the bizarre, week-long run of the M’s being back door playoff contenders. In a way, this is better. With everything going on, it’d be a shame to then be emotionally crushed by a late-season loss to the A’s or Astros. The M’s really aren’t very good, and no one claimed they would be a month or two ago. We’ve all just taken a random, sometimes fun, sometimes less so detour to end up back in the same spot. Just enjoy baseball as a diversion from everything else.

In addition to the M’s putting JP Crawford on the bereavement list, the M’s made a small roster move in IL’ing 2B Shed Long with a hairline fracture in his shin. It may or may not explain Long’s prolonged slump, but it’s clearly better to let Long heal and come back looking more like the guy we saw in 2019.

In addition, the M’s officially outrighted Mallex Smith to Tacoma, essentially ending his tenure w/Seattle by removing him from the 40-man roster. This one stings a bit. Smith was coming off of a 3.5 WAR season in 2018, with a 118 wRC+ and 40 steals. He was young, seemingly on the upswing, and capable of holding down CF for a long while. Instead, he utterly collapsed, hitting just .220/.290/.323 over parts of two seasons, and suffering defensive lapses as well. His strikeout rate climbed, which was the death knell for a player who didn’t hit the ball hard. The speedy-of-goes-to-Seattle-and-craters was a staple feature of M’s baseball in the 1990s, but I thought we were past these hackneyed, overplayed storylines (though Leonys Martin was kind of a throwback to the Brian L Hunters of old). I found/find Smith’s collapse really odd, both in its severity and how immediate it was. I would love to know what Tampa had him do vs. what M’s coaches told him to do, but it’s probably a mixture of BABIP regression and a decline in his batting eye.

The M’s lost a one-run game after Yusei Kikuchi struggled early, and the bullpen kept the M’s in the game long enough to mount a comeback. But even the improvement in the bullpen, who rarely look like the absolute worst group in the game anymore, seems to come too late. Now, it’s the offense’s turn to struggle, as they’re hitting for a 96 wRC+ in the past two weeks. Worse, they’ve hit fewer HRs in that span than any other club.

When the M’s are going well, it’s largely thanks to the Kyles. Lewis leads the team in dingers at 9, and Seager chipping in with an excellent K:BB ratio and .200+ ISO of his own. Dylan Moore’s been fantastic all year, and having his bat in the line-up is keeping the M’s in games, but Lewis’ recent slump has coincided with the M’s losing streak. Lewis is an odd duck, in that he’s not at all the player I think we thought we were getting after his eye-opening cup of coffee a year ago. Whereas 2019 Lewis had an abysmal K:BB ratio, this new one is drawing a ton of walks and has cut his K% noticeably. But while the 2019 Lewis had a huge ISO thanks to 6 HRs in short succession, the 2020 Lewis isn’t slugging as much as I would’ve thought, or at least, he’s not slugging like he was a month ago.

Maybe that’s too much to ask – please, Kyle Lewis, come in for your rookie season during Covid-19 disruptions and put up a .300/.400/.550 for us. But despite an average nearly right at .300, Lewis is slugging in the .480s. The reason is that he has just *2* doubles on the year. Look, given the choice between doubles and dingers, I take the latter every time. This is not exactly a complaint. But it’s odd that given how complete of a hitter he’s looked, and despite good speed, he’s not pulling liners or putting the occasional ball in the gap. All told, only 23% of his hits have gone for extra bases, and while the vast majority of *those* have left the yard, that’s a surprisingly low ratio. I’m happy for the singles he’s hit. But I’m stunned that – despite a home park that suppresses doubles – he hasn’t muscled a few more gappers. Going forward, that would do a lot for his overall value.

1: Moore, 2B
2: France, DH
3: Lewis, CF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Marmolejos, LF
6: White, 1B
7: Torrens, C
8: Walton, SS
9: Ervin, RF
SP: Sheffield


2 Responses to “Game 45, Mariners at Diamondbacks”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 12th, 2020 3:29 pm

    Why does Luis Torrens remind me of Tony Wolters? I wanted to get that off my chest.

  2. marinerbullpen on September 13th, 2020 11:53 pm

    Can Dunn throw STRIKES.

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