Game 154, Rangers at Mariners – OK, Seriously, Mariners?

marc w · September 28, 2022 at 5:43 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

George Kirby vs. Martin Perez, 6:40pm

After another listless loss, the M’s are…well, their star hasn’t dimmed too much given the O’s loss, but they really do look bad. If there’s a saving grace here, it’s that the M’s are probably better off in the WC 3 spot they increasingly look likely to wrap up.

It was still remarkable that they were unable to do anything against Jesus Tinoco and Tyson Miller. They demolished bad sinker/slider guys like Adrian Martinez of Oakland, but haven’t fared that well against sinker/slider guys with half-way decent sinkers. Brady Singer looked great, but I’m still shocked that Miller was that confusing to them. They’ve hit sinkers decently well this year, so it’s not that it’s a pitch type they struggle with, but they’re clearly worse vs. sinkers than four-seamers. Today’s starter, Martin Perez, throws a sinker as his primary fastball.

Perez is having a very good year, and he’s turned around something of a rough patch in August. He’s having his best year for strikeouts in his long career, in part by using the Brady Singer strategy of getting batters to put pitches OTHER than his fastball in play. Singer was a sinker/slider guy, but Perez hardly ever throws a slider. Instead, he’s a sinker/change guy. It’s much less weird that batters would swing more at his change than his sinker, but it’s neat if you can pull it off: batters league-wide do more damage on sinkers than they do on breaking/off-speed pitches, so if you can get them to either miss or put in a play a bendy pitch, that’s generally a preferable outcome.

The problem has been that it hasn’t necessarily been a better outcome for Perez specifically. Over his career, he’s given up 37 HRs on change-ups (4500 thrown) and 37 HRs on sinkers (7000 thrown). His change wasn’t good enough for this trick to actually pay dividends. It generated swings and misses, but it didn’t have the added benefit of weaker contact. This year, however, he’s figured something out. His change is still generating whiffs, but for the first time in a while, batters aren’t battering it. His wOBA allowed on sinkers is roughly the same as it was in 2021, but his wOBA allowed on change-ups is down almost 60 points. It’s his best results on the pitch since 2016.

There’s really nothing different about it – no changes in release point, no changes in movement. If you squint, I guess you could say he’s keeping it away from righties just a tiny bit more than he has in the past, but I’m not sure there’s anything real in that. He may just be disguising it slightly better. Like Hisashi Iwakuma’s splitter, the whole point of Perez’s gameplan is to get batters to swing at change-ups below the zone. Part of the reason batters generally don’t hit the ball as hard on change-ups is because they’re often hitting a ball that isn’t in the zone. Perez has always tried to induce swings on low change-ups, but some years batters put more strikes in play, and some years they don’t. This appears to be a year in which batters are hitting slightly lower cambios, and it’s helping Perez a lot.

1: Moore, 2B
2: France, 3B
3: Suarez, DH
4: Haniger, RF
5: Santana, 1B
6: Haggerty, RF
7: Crawford, SS
8: Casali, C
9: Kelenic, CF
SP: Kirby

It’s…not a great line-up. They can’t play an ailing Raleigh every day, and Julioooo is still on the IL, so I don’t really blame the manager, but that’s not a great look. They’ll probably score 10 runs to spite me, and they absolutely should do so.

Tampa and Cleveland are in a pitcher’s duel, while Toronto and New York face off. The Yanks have an early lead.

The Rainiers played their final game this afternoon in Reno, losing 11-1. Mason McCoy homered in the 9th to avoid the shutout. McCoy hit 21 dingers on the year and finished with an OPS over .800. The R’s ended up at 72-78, finishing rather strong after a big swoon in May/June. Justus Sheffield started today’s game, giving up 2 R in 3 IP and finishing the year with an ERA of 6.99.

Tacoma finishes with a team OPS of .784 and a team ERA of 5.28. Salt Lake led the league in team ERA (!) at 4.70, and two of the 10 PCL clubs finished with team ERAs over 6. Tacoma was roughly middle of the pack on both sides of the ball, hence their close-to-.500 record. Darren McCaughan led the PCL in innings and also in strikeouts. It was a solid campaign for the righty. Jarred Kelenic was easily the team’s best hitter.


2 Responses to “Game 154, Rangers at Mariners – OK, Seriously, Mariners?”

  1. giumri on September 29th, 2022 5:29 am

    Glad to see Geno’s hit tonight.

    Only 2 games back of WC1. I’m torn because I’d love to have the M’s play guaranteed home games in the first round. But, if everything breaks right – WC3 means the M’s might play in NYC where I reside currently. Selfish me says “WC3!”

    The less said about WC2, the better.

  2. schwingy on September 29th, 2022 2:10 pm

    Be selfish, it’s been 21 years!!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.