Game 93, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · July 17, 2022 at 11:12 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Flexen vs. Glenn Otto, 11:35am

The M’s go for an astonishing 14th straight win today against the Rangers. We came into the series looking at a Rangers club whose offense had seemingly turned a corner, but whose pitching wasn’t quite ready to help the club compete. As yesterday’s game showed, their pitching staff doesn’t *look* great, but they’ve done a decent job of keeping the M’s off the scoreboard. But a combination of bad relief work and a non-existant offense has meant it hasn’t really mattered; the M’s can squander runners in the early innings, keep the game close, and then find some late-game heroics to win it.

Today, they face Glenn Otto, one of the returns from NY in the Joey Gallo deal a year ago. I like Otto’s repertoire – he throws five pitches, he’s got a change that can keep lefties off-balance, and he racked up tons of K’s in the minors. Before the year started, I thought he’d be a vital part of the re-made Rangers: a good season from Otto could stabilize a rotation desperate for depth. A bad season, and the new double play combination wouldn’t score enough to make up for all the runs the Rangers would allow. Unfortunately for Texas, things are looking a lot more like the latter than the former. Otto’s walked over 13% of the batters he’s faced. He’s gotten decent whiff rates on many of his pitches, but he can’t make it matter: he can’t put hitters away, and they’re making very hard contact when they DON’T swing and miss.

The big problem this season has been his slider, which looks like a decent pitch, and has a good whiff rate, especially to lefties. But while it’s the pitch he throws the most against righties, righties are torching it. They’re elevating the pitch and hitting it hard (well, for a breaking ball). It’s strange – this was not a problem for Otto before, though he had other problems to worry about. This year, he raised his release point a bit, but he’s still got a bit of an issue in that his slider’s release point is slightly different from everything else. It’s possible that batters have learned this year; that advance scouting and video operators have picked up on it. It’s not a huge difference – I’ve talked about Marco Gonzales’ release point on his change for years, and he’s never really “fixed” it. But Otto’s going to have to do something different. His curve looks like a good pitch too – maybe just back off slider usage for a bit?

Darren Gossler mused on Twitter this morning that the most important/most unlikely factor in the M’s 13-game win streak and general turnaround has been Cal Raleigh. Julio achieving escape velocity always seemed like it was coming. The relief pitching sorting things out is also a fairly common pattern, and one we saw last season: once the team figures out who’s pretty good and who’s not, they…stop playing the bad players. It’s not rocket science. But Cal Raleigh seemed like a poor man’s Mike Zunino: eye-wateringly high K rate, very low average, but hopefully enough HRs to make it all playable. In mid-May, Raleigh bottomed out at .065/.194/.161. Since then, though, he’s at .233/.306/.516. Since June 21st, he’s at .250/.341/.528. I did not see this coming. A team where Cal Raleigh is absolutely an offensive force changes the M’s outlook considerably.

One thing Raleigh’s done since coming into MLB is strike out. But another thing is hit doubles – this is something that many M’s hitters, including many *good* M’s hitters, have not been able to do. Raleigh’s 2021 wasn’t great overall, but he hit 12 doubles that year. Kyle Lewis has 12 doubles in his *career.* Tom Murphy hit 12 in his great half-year in 2019, but they kind of dried up after that. Abraham Toro has struggled in so many respects, but the lack of doubles is a big part of that, and Adam Frazier’s lack of doubles is a part of his statistical drop from his 2019-2021 peak. If Raleigh’s able to keep this up, it gives him a much more consistent path to, not a GOOD average, but a playable one, and a decent way to keep his slugging up (again, this issue has really sapped Kyle Lewis’ overall production – doubles are important). Forget a poor man’s Mike Zunino. Cal Raleigh is looking more like the absolute best version of Zunino we ever saw, and only saw fleetingly.

1: Julioooo, CF
2: France, 1B
3: Winker, LF
4: Santana, DH
5: Suarez, 3B
6: Crawford, SS
7: Raleigh, C
8: Frazier, 2B
9: Haggerty, RF
SP: Flexen


3 Responses to “Game 93, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. bookbook on July 17th, 2022 12:23 pm

    No idea if Cal’s offense is sustainable. He looks awkward at the plate, not like he can cover most of his strike zone. But his minor league performance suggested he might be able to hit well enough, with the power, to really contribute, very encouraging so far.

  2. Stevemotivateir on July 17th, 2022 2:08 pm

    The previous post dissecting the draft was interesting. I admittedly haven’t been paying as much attention as I normally do, but of course I’m as curious as anyone when it things get under way.

    Meanwhile, Julio just opened up the game.

  3. Westside guy on July 17th, 2022 5:02 pm

    14 in a row!!

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