Game 39, Mariners at Red Sox

marc w · May 19, 2022 at 3:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

George Kirby vs. Rich Hill, 4:10pm

Yesterday’s win was the second-straight crucial win in a game the M’s were just overwhelming underdogs. Both were started by Marco Gonzales, and in both, he was opposed by one of the best starters in baseball. I know we all know Marco’s a competitive guy, but he seems to take it *personally* when he’s given no chance, or has his stuff compared unfavorably against, you know, Max Scherzer and Kevin Gausman. It is Marco’s superpower, I think, and it’s what makes him compelling.

The win prevented the M’s from getting swept, but they need to start passing some of the teams in front or tied with them. There’s an awful lot of clutter in the wild card standings, and while the M’s aren’t out of it by any stretch, it’s always daunting seeing so many damn teams in the way. Some of them will have easier schedules. Some will just get hot randomly. And sure, some will fall by the wayside, and they should begin doing so. But it’s one thing to be behind the Jays and Angels, and another to have to deal with the Guardians and Rangers. Just clear the decks, and let the M’s have their straigh-uphill battle with top-shelf teams in the wild card race.

Today’s game is another great contrast. George Kirby, the young fireballer, makes his third MLB appearance. Opposing him is 42-year old Rich Hill, making appearance 331. Every move of Kirby’s has been scrutinized with pitch tracking. The M’s undoubtedly knew his spin rate before they drafted him. Contrast that with Hill, whose career predates PitchFX and pitch tracking. He just threw a cool curveball; he was into a mid-career renaissance before anyone knew how and why it worked (I guess because, for a few years there, it really didn’t).

Hill has always been primarily a fastball/curve guy, though he’ll mix in a slider and a rare change and cutter. He was up to about 55% FB/40% change in the pre-pandemic seasons, but now throws them equally, if you believe MLB’s statcast, and is fully 53% *curve* to 42% fastball by PitchInfo. His fastball was never overpowering, and now comes in at around 88mph, with solid carry/ride thanks to solid backspin. That helps it pair well with his big, slow curve, which is in the 68-72mph range with big two-plane break.

A lefty, Hill is used to facing overwhelmingly-right-handed line-ups. And he hasn’t really minded. In his long career, he’s yielded a .301 wOBA to righties, and .291 to lefties. His splits were noticeably higher last season, but nothing in the surrounding years (including 2022) shows that he’s lost his touch against righties. Still, it’s not a great AB for lefties, so no surprise the M’s have their righty-heavy line-up in. The fanbase is irate that Souza remains on the team, but if he does, this is when to play him. I’m not sure he should be, but he’s here, so he should probably play against Hill.

1: Frazier, LF
2: France, 1B
3: Rodriguez, CF
4: Winker, DH
5: Suarez, 3B
6: Torrens, C
7: Toro, 2B
8: Moore, SS
9: Souza, RF
SP: Kirby

Drew Steckenrider is back from the restricted list now that the M’s are out of Canada. Roenis Elias heads back to Tacoma. Ryan Divish reports Matt Festa is with the team, so it sounds like another move is coming.

Taylor Dollard won his first in AA (Despite already having a pitcher of the week win!) as Arkansas beat NW Arkansas 5-4. Everett beat Hillsboro 3-2, but Modesto fell to Stockton 9-7. Modesto did slug 5 HRs, with Edwin Arroyo getting his 7th, and Robert Perez blasting numbers 13 and 14.


One Response to “Game 39, Mariners at Red Sox”

  1. Sportszilla on May 19th, 2022 4:03 pm

    Something I’ve tried to keep in mind is that the M’s have had a really, really brutal early schedule. They’ve played 22 road games to only 16 home games (will be 26/16 before they finish this trip) and the only legitimately bad team they’ve played so far (KC) they swept.

    Obviously it sucks to watch them lose, and losing series to the Phillies and Marlins isn’t exactly great, but the schedule gets a LOT easier basically right now (even if the Red Sox maybe are better than their record indicates) and so it’s actually the M’s who have that in their favor, not some of their competitors.

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