Series Preview: Seattle Mariners @ Oakland Athletics

Seattle: 0-0
Oakland 0-0

0.0 0.0 0.0 Push
0.0 0.0 0.0 Push
0.0 0.0 0.0 Push
0.0 0.0 0.0 Push
0.0 0.0 0.0 Push


For those that are unsure of the second column, the triangle-looking symbol is actually the capital Greek letter Delta. In many fields it is used to denote change in some form or another. That column will represent the change in the Mariner values for the rows since the last series preview.

Don't sleep on the Athletics this season. As Jeff pointed out, they're a lot like us but have been steering through the off season waters without nearly as much hype. Their curious move to DFA Jack Cust and go with Eric Chavez as the DH (how long until he gets hurt anyways? What's the backup plan?) probably knocks their projections down a couple runs, but this is still a dangerous team.


Mon Apr 5, 19:05: Felix Hernandez vs. Ben Sheets

Tue Apr 6, 19:05: Ian Snell vs. Dallas Braden*

Wed Apr 7, 19:05: Ryan Rowland-Smith* vs. Justin Duchscherer

Thu Apr 8, 12:35: Doug Fister vs. Brett Anderson*

I'm trying out a new format for listing the upcoming games including adding the dates and times of the games, which some people have requested in the past. Yes, the game times are listed in the pacific time zone. If that irritates you, too bad; this is a west coast blog. Yes, the game times are listed in 24-hour format. If that confuses you, I suggest re-learning 1st grade math.

The last time Ben Sheets pitched a Major League game was September 27, 2008. I really have no idea what to possibly expect out of him in this start, much less this season. Back when he was only intermittently injured, Sheets relied on a 93mph fastball and an 80mph curveball almost exclusively. He would mix in a few mid-80s changeups once in a while but he was really a two-pitch guy. He was moderately a fly ball pitcher and it's worth noting that he has pitched his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League.

Dallas Braden had his 2009 season cut short with a foot injury in August. Braden is an extreme fly ball guy who bested his core rates by posting a home run per fly ball rate about half of average. Oakland's park helps, but not that much. Braden is a pitch to the zone kind of guy. He doesn't miss many bats and focuses on getting first pitch strikes.

The last time Justin Duchscherer pitched a Major League game was August 18, 2008. Sensing a theme here? Oakland is deep but they also are relying on a lot of health risks. Duchscherer had been a full time reliever for years before the 2008 Athletics stuck him in the rotation. He lasted 22 starts then hurt his hip (again) and hasn't pitched in 18 months thanks to a second hip surgery and elbow surgery. I have my doubts that he ends 2010 with more innings pitched than Erik Bedard.

Brett Anderson is the Oakland starter that I worry the most about to continue their tradition of great young pitching. Making the jump from Double-A last season, Anderson had an underrated 2009 season. Always a big strikeout pitcher, Anderson managed to hold his walks steady even with the increase in level and still kept missing bats. It will be important to watch how hitters react to him with slightly more scouting tape at their disposal this season.

Below is a new table that I am fiddling around with. Basically, it lays out each pitcher's basic repertoire, frequency and average speed and then grades it on the familiar 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are determined by league percentiles in swinging strikes (K), strike rate (BB) and ground balls (GB) for each pitch. Hopefully this should give you an easy overview of each pitcher's strengths and weaknesses. The last row is the overall ranks for the pitcher based on all his pitches thrown*. This will rarely include the Mariner pitchers (the grades won't change much), but since this is new, I've decided to include them the first couple times through and for any new pitchers.

Felix Hernandez Ian Snell Ryan Rowland-Smith Doug Fister
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 69% 94 75 60 75
Slider 14% 88 75 65 75
Curve 10% 83 60 50 65
Change 7% 87 65 70 80
Overall -- -- 60 60 70
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 58% 92 55 35 40
Slider 27% 84 70 55 40
Change 13% 84 40 25 55
Overall -- -- 60 50 45
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 60% 88 45 65 35
Curve 20% 72 40 75 75
Change 16% 80 50 45 45
Overall -- -- 40 60 45
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 53% 88 25 45 25
Change 30% 81 40 80 65
Curve 11% 75 65 30 80
Slider 6% 82 35 80 30
Overall -- -- 40 65 45

Ben Sheets Dallas Braden Justin Duchscherer Brett Anderson
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 65% 93 75 75 40
Curve 29% 80 60 70 50
Change 7% 84 55 50 55
Overall -- -- 55 70 40
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 58% 88 40 65 50
Change 24% 74 70 70 25
Slider 14% 79 25 65 25
Overall -- -- 45 65 35
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 47% 85 40 40 40
Slider 27% 81 20 80 50
Curve 24% 70 75 60 60
Overall -- -- 45 65 50
Pitch % Sp K BB GB
Fastball 55% 93 40 40 50
Curve 30% 82 70 75 80
Slider 9% 84 40 65 80
Change 6% 84 20 55 55
Overall -- -- 45 60 65















*Want to know why Felix's four pitches all rate 60 or above on the swinging strike scale, but his overall rate is just a 60? Good question! Felix's fastball rates as a 75 because his swinging strike rate on fastballs is in roughly the 90th percentile compared to all other fastballs. Fastballs are the least likely pitch to generate a swing and a miss. Most pitchers do not throw fastballs 70% of the time. While the average pitcher possesses a much weaker fastball than Felix, he also utilizes breaking balls, and their higher swinging strike rates, more often. Thus, Felix's overall swinging strike rate is deceptively low for having such quality individual pitches. Bendy things!

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