Game 147, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · September 20, 2022 at 5:28 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Luis Castillo vs. JP Sears, 6:40pm

An easy win and an Orioles blowout loss eased the pain of the M’s recent losing skid, and it’s getting harder and harder to see how the M’s could blow a playoff spot if they really tried. They played without Suarez, Julio, and Cal Raleigh and they couldn’t help blowing out the Angels. Today, the M’s head north to Oakland to take on another team that’s just playing out the string, the hitless wonder A’s.

The A’s are “hitting” .216/.280/.346 this year, good for a .277 wOBA. The M’s hit .226 last season thanks to a hot September, but their OBP/SLG were far, far higher than this A’s club. Offense is down league-wide, but the A’s lack of…anything is noteworthy, and might even be historic if the hapless Tigers weren’t matching them out for out.

Like those Tigers, the A’s were counting on a number of their young prospects to hit the ground running, and that simply didn’t happen. There were always question marks about CF Cristian Pache’s hitting ability going back to before they acquired him in the Matt Olson deal, but .157/.204/.224 has to be seen as a worst-case scenario. Shea Langeliers spent most of the year demolishing the high minors, but has been equally befuddled by big league pitching. Hey, M’s fans can relate to that.

Would the A’s prefer that their prospects put up solid numbers? I’m sure they would, yeah. But at a fundamental level, I don’t think they really care all that much. This was never going to be a contending year, and no one can be shocked that the team has played so poorly when they traded off nearly anyone with a MLB track record to speak of (except Jed Lowrie, who came back and was somehow *too bad to continue being an Athletic*). The struggles have enabled the team to shuttle players back and forth between Oakland and Las Vegas, gaining club control. They’re making a run at the top pick in the draft. The playoffs are what good teams play for, and watching prospects get overmatched is what the bad teams euphemistically call “development.” Not everyone can be the Astros.

The A’s sent Frankie Montas to New York in exchange for a package of prospects including JP Sears. Montas has been a disaster for the Yanks, but there are no take-backsies in baseball, and the lefty Sears will get a chance to start for a rebuilding A’s team. You may remember Sears as a starter the M’s drafted in 2017 – he went to then-low-A Everett and moved up to the Midwest league as a high-K reliever. Seriously, he struck out 51 in 27 2/3 IP, giving up just 13 hits. But then, in a deal that seriously pissed me off, the M’s sent him to New York in exchange for Nick Rumbelow. The Yankees, one of the better pitching development groups in the game, converted him back to starting, and especially since 2021, he’s been an excellent hi-minors arm, and got spot duty with the Yankees before the trade this year.

I don’t want to oversell him. Part of the reason the M’s were OK moving him is that those gaudy K rates aren’t really backed up with top-tier stuff. Sears throws 93 from a low 3/4 angle, and features a slider that’s pretty solid and one of those great change-ups that the Yankees teach their pitchers. He hasn’t thrown it much, but to me, it could be his best pitch. In any event, Sears uses that low angle to get a flat approach angle and do a poor man’s Paul Sewald impression, but from the left side.

It’s funny – Sears has decent enough numbers (5-2, 3.90 ERA, 4.66 FIP), but he’s nothing like the guy he appeared to be. In the majors, he’s not striking out anyone. All of his pitches are more likely to be put in play than swung-and-missed, a fact I didn’t think was even legal in 2022 baseball. He’s not really managing contact, either, as he’s giving up a very high average exit velocity, more barrels than league average, and thus a high expected wOBA-against. He’s young, he pitches in a great ballpark for pitchers, and he’s not getting blown out. If you’re the A’s, you take that. They’ve done well with guys like this (Cole Irvin comes to mind), even if they can’t quite find another Chris Bassitt.

Luis Castillo had a bad game against the A’s a few weeks ago, but with the playoffs looming, it’s time to just dominate a line-up that’s eminently dominate-able. Do the thing, Luis.

1: Juliooooo, CF
2: France, DH
3: Haniger, RF
4: Santana, 1B
5: Crawford, SS
6: Moore, 2B
7: Toro, 3B
8: Casali, C
9: Haggerty, LF
SP: Castillo

Juliooooo is back. Cal apparently needs one more day, while Eugenio Suarez still hasn’t picked up a bat after fracturing his pinkie finger.

Congrats to Team Great Britain, the squad Harry Ford is playing for in World Baseball Classic qualifying. Thanks in part to Ford, the Brits are through to the WBC! They’ve never qualified before.


6 Responses to “Game 147, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. Dayve on September 20th, 2022 9:12 pm

    They could do just as well with Kelenic and 3 other minor leaguers rather than keep running out Toro, Winker, Trammel and Caselli. I like Trammel but he is struggling. Toro, Winker and the Caselli are trash.

  2. Stevemotivateir on September 21st, 2022 1:16 pm

    ^Yeah, I doubt that.

    Kelenic has been having much better PAs this month, but asking him, or anyone else with limited or no success at this level, to produce in this final stretch and into the postseason is asking a lot.

    We might see Torrens return temporarily if (when) Casali goes on paternity leave, but I wouldn’t expect any drastic changes, barring injury.

    They have their team. They can’t gamble like you’re suggesting. They’ll likely sink or swim with this roster–and it’s not a bad roster.

    The one thing I personally would consider doing differently, and I’m sure they’re giving it some thought, is to move France to 3B, Santana to 1B, and Geno DHing. We’ll probably see more of Moore in the OF corners and at 2B as well, regardless.

  3. Stevemotivateir on September 21st, 2022 1:34 pm

    And to be clear, I’m talking about regular roles. Swapping out just one player, like Trammell or Toro for Kelenic, is feasible.

    But ditching four players, including Winker…

    I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  4. schwingy on September 21st, 2022 2:52 pm

    Kelenic and Torrens called up. Trammel and Caseli sent down. Lamb DFA’d

  5. Stevemotivateir on September 21st, 2022 3:56 pm

    Casali wasn’t sent down. He can’t be, he’s out of options.

    He will go on paternity leave. DFAing Lamb allows them to carry both he and Torrens for now, and when Casali returns from leave.

    So, this is a swap of Trammell for Kelenic, and Lamb for Torrens.

    And Winker is the left fielder tonight (even if he shouldn’t be).

  6. schwingy on September 21st, 2022 8:51 pm

    Well it’s pretty clear he shouldn’t have been. He’s awful

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