Game 104, Mariners at Yankees: The Latest Most Important Series of the Year

marc w · August 1, 2022 at 4:24 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Domingo German, 4:05pm

After stumbling just slightly in Houston, the M’s venture east to face the top team in the American League. This morning, I might have set it up by talking about the new and improved M’s will have Luis Castillo make his debut, but then the Yankees went and got new and improved themselves. This is now the show and tell series.

The Yankees made a big move for a vaunted starting pitcher as well, grabbing Frankie Montas (and reliever Lou Trivino) from the Oakland A’s in exchange for pitching prospect Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, and current RP/swingman JP Sears (a former M’s draft pick who went to NY in the ill-fated Nick Rumbelow deal). They also sent along a non-pitcher, 2B Cooper Bowman. Waldichuk is probably the headliner, a strikeout maven who popped up a few years ago after being drafted in the 5th round in 2019. New York’s unbelievable pitching development has allowed them to keep trading their pop-up prospects, knowing that they can always grow more. The same’s happening in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers traded for Mookie Betts, Trea Turner/Max Scherzer and could still be in on…anyone they want, including Juan Soto. Waldichuk is a lefty near-majors starter with a solid repertoire who misses bats, and as big a name as he is, he’s not the Yankees top prospect.

Given the timing and the fact that both teams just picked up starters, it’s natural to compare the prospect outlays. There’s really nothing *good* that can come out of doing so, though. Sure, the Yankees gave up less for a starter with the exact same service time, so did the M’s get fleeced? No. I think Montas is a good starter, and would’ve been fine had the M’s picked him up, even assuming the A’s would deal him in the division. But Castillo remains a better bet: he’s been a full-time starter for longer, didn’t have a weird period of ineffectiveness in the recent past (though many of us had bad 2020s, so I don’t fault Montas too much for it), and Montas has a PED suspension and a longer injury history. I’m not saying he’s a back of the rotation guy; he’s not. But Luis Castillo based on track record and, more importantly, 2022, is just a better pitcher overall. Still, the Yankees can again look to their pitching coaches – this is the franchise that turned Clay Holmes into an elite reliever, and has had success with plenty of mid-tier acquisitions. I don’t want to make them out as miracle workers; they picked up Sonny Gray from the A’s, and that didn’t go well at all, AND Gray turned good again as soon as he left the Bronx. But the Yankees needed an upgrade in the rotation, and they got one.

That need in the rotation? Yeah, that’s today’s starter, Domingo German. He’s sort of fallen apart after a not-as-great-as-it-looks 18-4 season in 2019. German has never posted a great ERA, and then missed lots of time due to a shoulder injury. He’s always had a HR problem, and it isn’t really getting better. With the acquisition of Montas, this is likely his final turn in the rotation. All of which means it’s vital that the M’s start this series right and chase German early. German has a four-seam and sinker around 93, and he pairs them with a Yankees-style sinking change and a hard curve at 81. The secondaries aren’t too bad, but the fastballs have never really bothered opposing hitters. As a big-time fly-ball guy in a small park, he’s really struggled with home runs. Yes, Luis Castillo pitches this series, but he’s facing Gerrit Cole. The Yanks have an improving Jameson Taillon tomorrow. Get the win here and now, M’s.

Mike Petriello had the most interesting tweet of the day today, pointing out how the real playoff race in the AL may not be for a division (esp. since Houston rudely picked up Trey Mancini and Christian Vasquez), but for the first wild card position. “I’m starting to think the most interesting race here isn’t a division but SEA/TOR for ALWC1. Snapping a playoff drought isn’t the same w/ no home games? Robbie Ray might not be allowed into Canada. Tons of Jays fans in W. Canada. If it’s these teams, seeding is a *huge* deal.” Winning the third and final wild card would mean a three game series against the top non-division winner – ALL on the road. And *where* the M’s go could be critical, as Mike notes: if it’s Canada, then the M’s couldn’t use SP Robbie Ray. If it’s Tampa, then they could. All of which to say: do NOT get that final wild card position. Make Toronto or Tampa come *here* instead. If the season ended today, the M’s would go to Toronto while the Twins would host the Rays.

1: Frazier, RF
2: Winker, LF
3: Suarez, 3B
4: Santana, 1B
5: Crawford, SS
6: Lewis, DH
7: Raleigh, C
8: Kelenic, CF
9: Toro, 2B
SP: Marco

The injuries piled up in that Houston series, and thus the M’s face the Yankees with a less-than-ideal line-up. Julio’s on the DL, as is Dylan Moore, necessitating a lot more Abe Toro than is generally recommended. Jarred Kelenic’s back up, but with Ty France hurting a bit, the M’s backed up their infield by signing the recently released Jonathan Villar. Brennan Bernardino was optioned to Tacoma, while the M’s picked up CF/OF back-up Travis Jankowski while Julio heals. Man, did the M’s not need that.


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