Game 92, Rangers at Mariners

July 14, 2011 · Filed Under Game Threads, Mariners · 81 Comments 

Jason Vargas vs. Derek Holland, 7:19pm

The M’s kick off the second half with comfortably low expectations. They’re within a 8 games of the Rangers, but with the Rangers healthier than they’ve been in a while and with the M’s coming off a sweep in Anaheim, Seattle isn’t exactly a sexy dark horse pick for the division right now. Shannon Drayer’s blog post sums it up.

Derek Holland’s got very good raw stuff (the 2nd fastest average FB velocity for a lefty starter), but a home run problem has prevented him from becoming a legitimate top of the rotation starter. His peripherals are better than his ERA, but they’re not jaw dropping. After struggling with the HR ball in Arlington – and who hasn’t – he’s actually given up more on the road this year. Of course, Holland is facing the Mariners at Safeco field tonight, so all of that stuff about home runs is just hypothetical anyway. Holland’s left-handedness even gets him a bonus: Chone Figgins is in the line-up.

I’d always harbored some hope that Holland would struggle in Texas the way he did in 2009, and that the Rangers would move him to make room for Scheppers/Feldman/Ogando/Hurley/whoever, but facing a team with a wOBA of .278 on a cold, rainy evening is not going to help him put up superficially bad numbers.

As always, check out Lookout Landing’s series preview for a lot of good information on what Holland (and the other Ranger starters) throw, and how the teams fare offensively and defensively. Hint: the Mariners aren’t good offensively.

The line-up:
1: Ichiro!
2: Ryan
3: Ackley
4: Olivo
5: Smoak (DH)
6: Kennedy (1b)
7: Gutierrez
8: Figgins
9: Halman (LF)

On a brighter note, Taijuan Walker, fresh off his first career complete game, came in at #30 on Keith Law’s list($) of the top 50 prospects in baseball. Jackson Generals SS/concussion victim Nick Franklin’s at #40.

Chris Seddon takes the hill for Tacoma against Salt Lake at 7, James Paxton’s pitching right now for Jackson vs. Carolina, James Gilheeney faces Lancaster, Tony Butler leads Clinton vs. Great Lakes, Seon-Gi Kim’s given up a run so far for Pulaski, and Stephen Kohlscheen gets his 3rd start for Everett against Spokane.