Game 140, Mariners at Astros

marc w · September 8, 2021 at 10:35 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Tyler Anderson vs. Jose Urquidy, 11:10am – Broadcast is NOT on Root, but is on Youtube.

After another crushing loss to the Astros, the M’s turn to their erstwhile ace, Tyler Anderson for today’s getaway day match-up. Anderson’s made seven starts, and is already the M’s third most valuable starting pitcher by fWAR. It’s all the more remarkable because he can’t lean on tons of strikeouts to try to impress fWAR’s fielding-independent system. His already-good control has taken another step forward with Seattle, and he’s become near-elite at avoiding the barrel of the bat. For a pitch-to-contact guy with below-average velo, he simply has to avoid hard contact. No one can avoid it forever, but Anderson’s hard hit% and barrel rates are in the top 10-15% in baseball this year. No walks, mis-hit contact = success.

It’s also something that may be harder to count on. I think Anderson’s done enough here that the M’s should definitely explore a multi-year deal for him, but this was Marco Gonzales’ profile, too, and while he’s turned it around admirably, he’s been less successful despite only a slight drop in his average exit velo/hard hit%. For Marco, his walk rate increased from barely-detectable to merely good, and his hard hit rate went from amazing to simply “above average.” The problem has been that those hard hit balls have been hit much harder and further. That may simply be luck – the price of doing this kind of business as a pitcher – or it could be a very slight diminution in his skills/true talent. Marco’s still helped, but this season is *why* his success hasn’t felt quite as assured as it would if he struck out more batters. When contact management is all you’ve got, it’s got to be consistently great, and I’m not really sure *anyone* can be consistently great contact managers.

Still, the M’s are going to have a lot of innings to fill next year, and I think Anderson might be a solid 3rd starter, even if his good season may raise the price a bit. The money they’ll save by not picking up Yusei Kikuchi’s team option shows that they’ve got money budgeted for it, but they can’t stop at Anderson. They’ll need a lot more, and I’m sure they know that. They’ve targeted guys just like Anderson and Gonzales because they may be undervalued precisely because they DON’T rack up tons of strikeouts; no one’s confusing these guys with Jacob de Grom. But given where the team sees themselves and their oft-stated/re-stated contention window, it may be time to throw your ideas of what’s under or over-valued out the window and open up your wallet.

The same is true for the offense, of course. The Blue Jays got perhaps the bargain of the year in signing Marcus Semien to a one-year deal (the competition for this would be the Blue Jays signing Robbie Ray to a one-year deal), and now they’ll have to see if they can keep him. The fact that the Blue Jays, too, see their contention window wide open complicates things for the M’s. They can want to spend money and sign free agents, but they *need* to get them to sign on the dotted line to play in Seattle. Toronto’s already ramping up spending, and the Yankees and Dodgers are always going to compete for top-tier talent. This is where it’s vital that Jerry Dipoto gets what he wants. A part of that is convincing ownership, but he’s also got to convince those players and agents.

I suppose we should touch on last night’s loss. It was painful to see Paul Sewald, who’d been dominant this year, and especially dominant against Houston, lose the lead in the 9th. The game had proceeded just as about 90% of M’s wins this year have done: the M’s looked hopeless early, then fell behind, and then strung together extra base hits at precisely the time when those hits would do the most. They took the lead despite being out-hit, out-hit for power, and despite mostly great pitching from the opponent. They mastered sequencing, just as they’ve done so many times. By BaseRuns, this was a loss 90% of the time, but BaseRuns doesn’t incorporate Fun Differential. They got an insurance run and handed the game to their best reliever, and, well, sometimes the Astros are just gonna Astro. The only positive here was the the Yankees free-fall continued, the Red Sox lost again at home, and Oakland lost badly to Chicago. There’s no real harm done, but it was a missed opportunity to really gain some ground.

1: Crawford, SS
2: Haniger, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: France, 1B
5: Toro, 2B
6: Torrens, DH
7: Kelenic, Cf
8: Murphy, C
9: Marmolejos, LF
SP: Anderson

The Rainiers smash-and-grab in Reno continued, with a 4-3 win to close out the series. Tacoma won four in a row in erstwhile-first-place Reno to take a 2 game lead in the AAA-W-W (A cubed, W squared?). Closer Ray Kerr, a high-90s closer who was an undrafted free agent several years ago, continues to impress – he got the save last night.

Julio Rodriguez homered in Arkansas’ loss to Springfield. Uh, that’s *Springfield’s* Julio Rodriguez. Arkansas’ Julio Rodriguez went 0-5, but his slash line is still .359/.474/.508 in AA.

Cade Marlowe homered in Everett’s 9-6 loss to Eugene. That’s his 24th between Modesto and Everett, and it’s brought him up to 100 RBIs on the year (he’s also got 21 stolen bases). Noelvi Marte hit clean-up in his hi-A debut and went 2-4. Taylor Dollard continues to rack up K’s, but he’s given up 12 HRs now in 11 games/61 IP.

Modesto’s replaced Noelvi Marte with Milkar Perez, who’d opened eyes in the Arizona Complex League. Perez, a 3B, is 19, and went 1-4 in his first full-season game. CF Corey Rozier, a 12th-round pick this year, is pushing for a promotion, hitting .417/.492/.602 in just over 100 ABs. He’s got an 18:18 K:BB, too, and 13 SBs in 27 games with the Nuts.


One Response to “Game 140, Mariners at Astros”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 8th, 2021 3:03 pm

    What’s funny about this series is that I had no illusions of a series win. I anticipated just one.

    The way they lost the first game made it feel like the season had all but died. The second game was perhaps even more disheartening, as they seemingly had it wrapped up only to see Houston’s best beat their best. It left me thinking ‘How do you compete against that?’.

    Good to see them hang in there after two deflating losses. Good to see Kelenic show some life as well. I still don’t think the postseason is likely, but I love that it’s September 8th and the door’s still open.

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