Game 110, Angels at Mariners

marc w · August 7, 2022 at 12:38 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Tucker Davidson, 1:10pm

The M’s series win in the Bronx stabilized their playoff odds after the stumble in Houston, and importantly gave them some margin of error as they try to hold off Cleveland/Chicago for the wild card. As we approach 50 games to go, they don’t have to win series against the elite teams they may face, they just have to fare decently well against their remaining schedule. And critically, that remaining schedule is the easiest among wild card combatants. Sweeps would be nice, but they’re not required. Look, one of those teams is going to get hot, so the M’s can’t likely just coast in, but they don’t have to do more than they’ve already done.

All of that is a prelude to saying that the M’s desperately need this game. The Angels, a team coming into this series in utter disarray, with only the flimsiest excuse of a rotation behind Shohei and fresh off of trading away their closer and best non-Ohtani/Trout position player, have won two of three in Seattle. Losing the series just flubs away the momentum they just left New York with, and it puts an even stronger spotlight on an offense that’s scored 2 runs per game thus far against a given-up club. They’ll do so today against perhaps the Angels worst starter, Tucker Davidson. Davidson was the return from Atlanta in the trade that sent Raisel Iglesias to the Braves, and was coming off a very disappointing year. He made four so-so starts for Atlanta last year, and while he was the beneficiary of some luck, he put up solid-if-unremarkable peripherals.

This year, though, he’s lost the strike zone. Coming into today, he’s walked 13 and plunked one against just 10 strikeouts. He throws a four-seam, a slider, and a curve, but he’s just not hitting the zone enough, leading to a whole bunch of taken pitches and walks. Davidson is a lefty, and some combination of arm angle and mechanics seem to make his fastball absurdly easy to spot for right-handed bats. In his career, which is of course not a long one, but he’s logged 37 IP, righties are hitting .400 with a .650 SLG%. To be fair to Davidson, his slider is an equal-opportunity weapon, assuming he can induce a swing on it. Both lefties and righties have fared quite poorly against it, and that’s encouraging, but please read that fastball average/slg% line one more time. The M’s need a series split, and the Angels are doing everything they can to make it happen. Julio would’ve been huge in this game, and getting him back is the most important thing to the M’s chances now. But Ty France is here, and he needs to do some damage.

Against Davidson is Marco Gonzales, who needs to pull out of the tailspin he’s currently mired in. He’s gone 2-2 in his last 4 starts, but has yielded 18 runs in 24 IP for an ERA of 6.75. His FIP is near 6, and he’s yielding an OPS of just barely under 1.000. Again, with Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, and Logan Gilbert, no one needs Marco to be an ace. He’s put up a solid season over all, and he’s a reason why the M’s have playoff odds of *80%* right now. But these are the games where he needs to hold serve against a bad, bad team. He needs to give the M’s a chance to wear out Davidson and get to the Angels enervated bullpen.

The M’s offense has predictably stumbled without Julio. They posted a .313 wOBA, good for a 105 wRC+ per fangraphs in the first half, but that’s fallen to .285 for an 89 wRC+ now. They’re still getting credit for T-Mobile falling back into pitcher’s-haven, but they’re simply not swinging the bats well enough. I know Julio’s out, and they started the 2nd half against Houston. But they need to show they can grind out runs against lesser teams. A cupcake schedule won’t matter if they can’t score.

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

Travis Jankowski’s M’s tenure didn’t last long; he was DFA’d when the M’s activated Mitch Haniger. Kevin Padlo is once again on the move, as the Pirates claimed him off of waivers. The more shocking move was the M’s optioning Abraham Toro to Tacoma to add a bit more pitching depth. Understandable in a way with the day-night doubleheader yesterday, but it’s been a rough year (albeit punctuated with some high-profile hits) for Toro.

Haniger’s return comes at just the right time, and gives the M’s a slightly more balanced look against Davidson. Kyle Lewis gets the day off, which is somewhat odd considering his handedness, but he needs to split time with Haniger right now, and is 0 for his last 12 with 9 Ks.

Bryce Miller starts for Arkansas today, and Bryan Woo, another Cal Poly draft pick (like Taylor Dollard) continues his very strong season for Everett. Woo’s thrown 30 IP with 43 Ks and just 6 walks.

Prelander Berroa made his second start last night for AA Arkansas. He got a no-decision in Midland’s 5-1 win. Walks continue to trouble him; he’s now given up 9 in just 5 1/3 IP, against only two hits allowed. Stockton destroyed Modesto 8-1, and Hillsboro demolished Everett 13-2. Thankfully, Tacoma held serve against Sacramento, winning 4-2. Austin Warner pitched 5 excellent innings to start that one off, and Mason McCoy homered.


One Response to “Game 110, Angels at Mariners”

  1. MKT on August 7th, 2022 2:46 pm

    “they try to hold off Cleveland/Chicago for the wild card”

    Excellent article as usual, but I would not count out the Orioles. Even though Fangraphs gives them a low playoff probability (less than 4% currently), Baseball-ref, which seems to rely very heavily on teams’ won-loss records and not on pre-season talent estimates, gives them a 46% chance.

    More importantly, they’re showing that their 10-game winning streak was not a fluke, they’ve got some good young talent. Led by a player who, if not for his limited playing time and slow start, might be right there with Julio in the running for Rookie of the Year: catcher Adley Rutschman. He’s compressed Cal Raleigh’s career trajectory into four months: slow start (.529 OPS in May), then found his batting eye (.775 in June), then hit like an All-Star (.859 in July), and has been MVP-level so far in August (1.313).

    That averages out to .804 for the season, a touch lower than Julio but in a tougher defensive position. Much smaller number of games and at bats so he’s not a true RotY contender. But he surely is helping the Os win games now.

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