Game 155, Mariners at Angels – Scoreboard Watching

marc w · September 25, 2021 at 6:03 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Tyler Anderson vs. Jaime Barria, 6:07pm

After yet another 1-run win and another great bullpen performance from Paul Sewald, the M’s gained more ground on the wild card leaders, the Red Sox. The surging Yankees are, of course, a problem, but the gap between the M’s and the top teams is going down. A late grand slam from Giancarlo Stanton today opens the door yet again – the gap’s currently only 2.5 games, and the M’s are tied with Toronto, who’s currently playing Minnesota. It’s still an incredibly tall ask, which is why even after a 6-game winning streak, the M’s odds are just 6.5%.

Yesterday’s game always felt like it’d go to the late innings, which is another way of saying that it felt like the M’s would find a way to win. Despite the bullpen giving the Angels some openings, Sewald, Steckenrider, and Sadler were up to the job. Part of that has been their willingness to simply walk Shohei Ohtani and not risk the big play.

So with the M’s still alive and with Yusei Kikuchi struggling, there’s been a lot of talk about turning Kikuchi’s next start over to SP prospect Matt Brash. Brash, my pitcher of the year in AA Arkansas, probably is the most big-league ready prospect the M’s have, and certainly the healthiest. It’s still a risk, as Brash doesn’t have the pinpoint control of someone like George Kirby, and, critically, he’d have to adjust to a brand new baseball: while AAA uses the MLB ball, AA does not. That may be one of the reasons that the M’s yesterday promoted Brash, whose season was already over, up to AAA Tacoma, who’s still playing.

So, give him some time to get familiar with the MLB ball in practice, maybe toss an inning or two in a game, and then promote him? Nothing’s that easy in baseball these days. Just this week, AAA has made *yet another adjustment* to the baseball. As Baseball America, CBS Sports and others reported, AAA will use a pre-tacked baseball for this week. This is a partial response to the mid-season ban on sticky stuff, and pitchers complaining about the slippery baseballs they could no longer tack up with sunscreen (or other stuff). It’s something the NPB has done for years in Japan, and those balls were used in this year’s Olympics, which were greeted with approval from players in the US minor leagues. It seems like a good change, but it’s still very odd to do with a week or so left in the season, and it adds yet another wrinkle to the M’s decision-making. All else equal, Brash probably gives the M’s a pretty good shot, especially at 3-4 high-energy innings. But all else is NOT equal. I still hope to see it, but I’m not convinced that we should mark 3-4 shutout innings in the scorebook at this point.

Today’s Angels starter, Jaime Barria, is a righty with a four-pitch mix – a four-seam and sinker at 93, a hard slider at 86, and a rare change at 86 as well. He had a solid first season in 2018 with a superficially lovely ERA that was buoyed by sequencing and BABIP luck. That luck went 100% the other direction the following year, when Barria was so bad, he was essentially unplayable. Like so many in 2019, HRs were the primary reason. He returned last year and put together his best campaign, albeit in a tiny sample. He’s been solid this year, but it’s been essentially midway between 2019 and 2020. His K rate is way down, and his walk rate is up, but his HRs are down, and he’s been a bit better than replacement level overall. I think Barria’s better than he’s shown this year, but that’s not really my problem. The Angels continue to struggle with run prevention not because they can’t identify promising pitchers. They’ve had quite a few come up and have some success initially, like Barria did in 2018. What they haven’t been able to do is turn that initial success into lasting production. The M’s have struggled with that at times on the position player front (Shed Long, Dylan Moore, to an extent Tom Murphy), but the Angels seem really star-crossed with young pitchers.

1: Crawford, SS
2: France, 1B
3: Seager, 3b
4: Haniger, RF
5: Kelenic, CF
6: Toro, 2B
7: Torrens, DH
8: Fraley, LF
9: Raleigh, C
SP: Anderson

Tacoma lost to Round Rock 4-3 despite another HR from Jose Marmolejos. They’re back at it now, with Round Rock up early. Recently outrighted SP Kohei Arihara is facing recently outrighted slugger Marmolejos and the R’s. C’mon Tacoma!


2 Responses to “Game 155, Mariners at Angels – Scoreboard Watching”

  1. Milendriel on September 25th, 2021 8:15 pm

    The Red Sox haven’t been doing their part, which is annoying because of their cupcake rest of season schedule (Orioles/Nationals). Have to think they’re a lock at this point. The Yankees’ RoS schedule is brutal (Blue Jays/Rays), so there’s still some hope there.

  2. Stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2021 9:06 pm

    Was there a fat lady singing during the 7th inning stretch?

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