Game 37, Mariners at Blue Jays

marc w · May 17, 2022 at 3:25 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Jose Berrios, 4:05pm

After yesterday’s listless loss in Toronto, today’s game takes on added significance. No, it’s too early to matter much in the grand scheme of things, but they can’t be the spark that ignites a big Jays run, particularly as they’ll likely be a Wild Card threat all year. The M’s are already behind a lot of teams, and while there’s plenty of time to catch them, the first step in doing so is to stop digging the hole they’re in.

It’s also important for Logan Gilbert. After a brilliant April, he’s been slightly hittable in May, and for himself and the team, this would be a statement game (as much as a below-.500 team in May can make a statement… maybe a defiant head-nod, or a confident grin). And you have to like his odds. He’s facing off against a much more well-known and heralded pitcher in Jose Berrios, but he may have the upper hand tonight. Gilbert may be the closest thing to the opposite of Jose Berrios, an anti-Berrios, if you will.

Berrios throws from a low arm slot, and at over 3′ away from the center of the plate, he’s pitching from half-way to third base. That’s intended to create all sorts of odd angles and to make his best pitch, a slurvy, sweeping curveball, play up. This is a little bit like a starting version of Paul Sewald, though Berrios has a full four pitches he’ll mix in: four seam, sinker, curve, and change.

The problem is that without a ton of velocity or some interesting movement (where “interesting” here would be something that differs from what you’d expect given his arm slot), it’s a profile that looks like it should have platoon splits. And he really, really does. The curve breaks enough that it’s still a decent pitch to lefties, and the change-up isn’t bad. But the fastball coming in at the angle that it does breaks right onto lefties’ barrels.

Since the beginning of the 2020 season, lefties are hitting .343 and slugging *.685* on his four-seam fastball, the pitch he’s thrown them most often. His sinker has been far more effective, but that’s a low bar to clear; they’re still slugging .456 off of that one. He’d been much more effective against lefties earlier in his career, but we’re looking at a sustained (read: years) period where lefties are just teeing off. He’s given up 4 long balls to lefties in 13 1/3 IP against them this year, and he’s walked/plunked 7 against 7 Ks. At the heart of it is a fastball that just doesn’t play.

Gilbert’s biggest problem to date has been the lack of a fully-operational breaking ball that he can deploy against *righties*. Righties are slugging over .500 on Gilbert’s slider – that shouldn’t be possible. It’s not a high-spin, high-movement offering, but it shouldn’t really need to be. Oddly enough, both it and the change have been quite effective against *lefties* and thus Gilbert’s running strong reverse splits in his brief MLB career. I don’t think that’ll last, but it brings up two points that get at Gilbert’s effectiveness: first, his fastball is good enough that he can get anyone out with it. Second, the change is probably his best secondary at this point.

Gilbert’s extension gives him a sneaky-fast four-seamer, and it has a bit more rise than batters might expect. He uses essentially the exact same release point as George Kirby, but gets a few inches more vertical movement than Kirby’s. But that’s not necessarily good; there’s essentially nothing in Gilbert’s pitch movement that can adequately explain the real trouble batters have in squaring him up, so we’ll have to stick with the extension thing. There’s also something to be said for plus command, as his stuff+/pitchingbot command marks are great on that fastball, even if its raw stuff grades out more average-to-slightly-above.

1: Frazier, 2B
2: France, 1B
3: Crawford, SS
4: Winker, LF
5: Suarez, 3B
6: Rodriguez, CF
7: Ford, DH
8: Souza, RF
9: Raleigh, C
SP: Gilbert

I like Winker at clean-up for this one, but it’d be nice if there was a bit more left-handed pop here behind Cal Raleigh, whose numbers are bad enough all around that it’s tough to talk about a “better side” of the plate for him yet. Both Dylan Moore and Steven Souza are better vs. lefties, as you’d expect, but neither is well-suited to a platoon role. The problem here is roster construction and injuries more than anything; you could make a case for Moore, but it’s just not a huge deal.

Mike Curto has a great article over at WeRTacoma about tonight’s introduction of the long-awaited robo umps in the PCL. They’ve been collecting data and testing them out in the first month of the season, but they’re going live tonight. A sound is supposed to instantly tell the ump if the pitch crossed any part of the plate (a little bit wider than the plate, actually), and then the ump makes the call. As Curto notes, this is something of an experiment, and it’s going to be fascinating to hear what players think of this after a few weeks. Many have been clamoring for this for years (though the tech wasn’t quite ready a few years ago), and others warn that it could have big unintended consequences. I guess we’ll find out?

Tacoma’s first run-in with the robo umps takes place tonight as they open a series in Sacramento

Arkansas’ long-simmering tensions with breakaway region of Northwest Arkansas once again erupt into active fighting tonight.

Jimmy Joyce leads Everett into its defense of Funko Field from Hillsboro.

Modesto faces off with league cellar-dwellers, Stockton. Modesto’s run differential is nearly 100 runs higher than Stockton’s, as Stockton given up more runs than any team in the league.


One Response to “Game 37, Mariners at Blue Jays”

  1. bookbook on May 17th, 2022 7:37 pm

    Given how he’s been playing thus far, I’d be sorely tempted to put Julio ahead of, rather than behind, France Winker Suarez. I know it doesn’t make a big difference, and the power will come, but right now the guy is getting on and stealing 2nd. The M ought to set up to drive him in. (And getting Julio more PAs might feel like compensatio. If the season is totally lost.)

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