Game 24, Mariners at Astros

marc w · May 3, 2022 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Flexen vs. Cristian Javier, 5:10pm

Too much going on in the world to really dig into an early-May ball game, but the one legitimately positive story today is that Kyle Lewis will begin a rehab assignment with Tacoma tonight. The M’s said he’s been playing back to back games in extended Spring Training, so he could move up quickly if he’s able to move pain free in the outfield. It’d be so much fun to see the dream OF of Lewis/Rodriguez/Kelenic.

Cristian Javier, somewhat surprisingly relegated to the bullpen last year, is back in Houston’s rotation. The righty is a fastball/slider guy, with a high-spin four-seamer at 94, thrown almost exclusively up in the zone, and a slurvy high-70s slider that he’s increasingly comfortable throwing to lefties as well as righties. That’s been huge for him, because despite good overall numbers as a starter in 2020 and a low-ish ERA last year, he’s had some platoon split issues.

What’s weird is that lefties were never able to hit that slider, but he’d bail them out by throwing a slower curve and a functional change-up. And, of course, doubling down on elevated fastballs. This season, he’s just throwing the slider an awful lot more, and lefties are still pretty flummoxed by it. He’s getting a bit more horizontal sweep, and it looks like it might benefit from seam shifted wake, too. His fastball, too, is a good pitch. It gets plenty of whiffs, but also generates poorly-struck fly balls and pop-ups, as batters just get under it. It’s been even more effective this year, as he’s maintained the velo he gained working out of the pen, and he’s getting more vertical rise on it through a slight improvement in its spin efficiency.

He’s always had a high strand rate and low BABIP because he allows so many fly balls, but then, he’s also been quite vulnerable to home runs. Not all of that elevated contact is mis-hit. As such, he’s essentially the poster boy for a pitcher who’d benefit from a ball with more drag than previous iterations. And, yes, he’s off to a brilliant start thanks to a month with a HR rate less than half his career average.

1: Frazier, LF
2: France, 1B
3: Winker, DH
4: Suarez, 3B
5: Crawford, SS
6: Rodriguez, CF
7: Toro, 2B
8: Kelenic, RF
9: Murphy, C
SP: Flexen

Tacoma opens a series in Salt Lake, where they’ll take on Ryan Smith and the Bees.
Arkansas is in Frisco. Levi Stoudt gets the start for the Travs in game 1.
Adam Macko starts for Everett, who open a series in Vancouver.
Modesto’s first game in Fresno didn’t go so well, as they lost 9-3 despite 7 Ks and no walks in 4 IP (3R, 1 HR) from William Fleming, who’s up to 30 Ks vs. 7 walks in 23 1/3 IP.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.