Game 159, Athletics at Mariners – Brash’d Off

marc w · September 29, 2021 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Frankie Montas, 7:10pm

Everything’s coming up Mariners at the moment. The M’s gamble with Tyler Anderson starting on short rest worked perfectly, and the M’s used all of their bullpen arms to perfection to close out a hard-fought 4-2 win over Oakland. The one guy they *didn’t* use was Matt Brash, who we all thought we’d see. Maybe tonight?

I think I understand the thought process; the M’s didn’t want him to make his debut in what was a very close game for much of the night. It was 2-1 until late, and that’s just asking a lot of a rookie who hasn’t pitched in weeks. Ideally, the M’s get a bunch of runs early and ease the way for Brash to make his debut.

That won’t be easy, though. Frankie Montas is a tough pitcher, and he’s coming off perhaps his best season. He’s got the highest K% of his career, and his control’s slightly better after some issues last season. He uses an even split of a four-seam and sinker (lefties get more of the latter, righties get the former). He mixes in a good, hard slider, and his best pitch, an awesome splitter at 87. He throws the splitter a ton to lefties, but he’ll mix it in to righties, especially in two-strike situations. The pitch has 6-7″ of drop compares to his fastball, and it works: batters have missed on over half of their swings on it this year. Shohei Ohtani’s splitter (rightly) gets more attention, but Montas’ is a pretty good pitch in its own right.

He’s not perfect, though – and I’m not even talking about his 2019 suspension for PEDs. Montas has had platoon splits for most of his career. The reason isn’t the splitter, of course- it’s his fastball. I always used to talk about this when the M’s played the Angels, but pitch types have platoon splits of their own. Sinkers have one of the highest splits, just below sliders: these pitches work really, really well against same-handed hitters. But for some reason, probably to try and avoid HRs, a lot of pitchers use them mostly or nearly exclusively against opposite-handed hitters – they perhaps unwittingly play right into the hitters’ hands. In his career, Montas has thrown over 1,500 sinkers to lefties – that’s more than twice as many as he’s thrown four-seamers to them. Lefties are hitting .340 and slugging .598 against them. Let’s hope he keeps up this bizarre game plan tonight.

It’s been one of the keys to Montas’ achilles’ heel: hard contact. Outside of the weird 2020 mini-season, Montas hasn’t really had trouble with HRs. But he still gives up a lot of hard-hit balls when hitters put the ball in play. It’s why he’s got a career .312 BABIP, and it’s why his xERA (based on exit velo and launch angle) has been higher than his FIP and ERA in 2019 and 2021.

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: Gilbert

The schedule was set up for the M’s to face Shohei Ohtani of the Angels on the final day of the season. Today, the Angels announced that Ohtani would be skipping that start. He’ll still bat, but he’s done pitching this season. I’m sure the M’s won’t mind.

The Rainiers kick off their final home series of 2021 tonight at Cheney, as the R’s face the Salt Lake Bees. Robert Dugger takes the mound for the R’s. His season numbers are brutal, as are most of the league’s , but he’s coming off a AAA-West pitcher of the week win.


2 Responses to “Game 159, Athletics at Mariners – Brash’d Off”

  1. Longgeorge1 on September 29th, 2021 8:02 pm

    C.B. Bucknor. My best argument for the Robo Ump

  2. eponymous coward on September 29th, 2021 11:30 pm

    *Joe West has entered the chat*

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