Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Seattle Mariners

MARINERS (13-16) Δ Ms RANGERS (16-13) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA) -15.0 (24th) -7.7 22.3 (4th) Texas
FIELDING (UZR) 0 - 0
ROTATION (tRA)
7.2 (6th) 2.1 0.3 (11th) Seattle
BULLPEN (tRA)
3.7 (11th) 1.9 -9.0 (28th) Seattle
OVERALL(RAA)
-4.2 (17th) -3.7 13.5 (8th) TEXAS

A 13-16 record over 162 games is about 73 wins. That's on the low side of what I expected/hoped for the Mariners coming into 2011, but after getting my hopes slammed in a figurative car door right at the outset, 73 doesn't look bad. It's not great, but it would have the nice benefit of avoiding the 90-loss plateau. Records between 73 wins and 79 wins blur a bit together, but I am still holding out for one of those higher-70 win totals so that the team's management doesn't get itchy trigger fingers. Sweeping Texas, by the way, would level our records.

No Mariner starter went longer than seven innings in the three game series with Boston and each game went to the bottom of the ninth. Despite seven innings of relief work needed, Eric Wedge only utilized three relievers: Jamey Wright, Aaron Laffey and Brandon League. Meanwhile, League's fastball usage is down from 77% last year to 73%. His swinging strike is awful right now, but his stuff is still there so I'd still expect his numbers to rebound back up.

Jack Cust came to bat 12 times against the Red Sox and walked six times. He also singled and hit two doubles. If he were blocking someone at his DH spot, then I would have been more sympathetic to the pleas for his dismissal earlier, but he's not. At best, the team might be better off shifting Milton Bradley to DH and having Ryan Langerhans play left field or Michael Saunders when Franklin Gutierrez comes back, but that's quibbling and it's quibbling over the likes of Milton Bradley and Ryan Langerhans. Both of whom are fine and all, but no more a part of the Mariners' future than Jack Cust. No, Cust has not been blocking anyone and he should be given more time to see if the power is gone or not. Because the plate discipline is for real and it's useful.

Tue 03 May 19:10

ERIK BEDARD* ALEXI OGANDO

It would be great for Erik Bedard to build off his last start and for the Mariner hitters to slow walk Alexi Ogando into oblivion. Not that Bedard's last start was awesome, it just looked awesome in comparison to this previous four outings. Then again, that I can even complain about Erik Bedard having made five starts without a scratch so far is not something most of us expected at this point. If you care about being grounded, it's important to remember that Bedard is coming off multiple shoulder surgeries and it may be months, if ever, before he regains his strength. He showed improved pitch speed with the extra days of rest and perhaps that is how the Mariners will have to handle him for a while. It could be a lot worse.

Alexi Ogando has a 2.30 ERA. He has a .165 BABIP and a strand rate of 95.5%. His FIP is 4.65. Hey Mariners, pimp slap this man with some haughty regression. 

Wed 04 May 19:10

MICHAEL PINEDA C.J. WILSON*

I am beginning to develop too much faith in Michael Pineda. Normally when that happens I get quickly reminded of how much it hurts to do that and subsequently forget to duck when the wrecking ball of reality came penduluming back. Still, he's pitched like he deserves that trust so I cannot blame anyone who starts seeing his starts that way. Of course, Felix Hernandez had his amazing 2005 start and then his 2006 season. Did you remember that it took Felix 30.2 innings before anyone had even an extra-base hit off him? Michael Pineda is eventually going to come back to the ground. Hopefully, he doesn't crash but rather sort of settles down gently like a lovely butterfly in which case I beg you not to kill him. Butterflies are prettier in the wild, not behind some glass, you jerk. 

I wonder if C.J. Wilson's higher than average called strike percentage, and resulting higher than average amount of called strikeouts, is a result of him having so many different pitches. It's a possible cause that I have not looked into and unlike the Ichiro thing last night (which started as a little note above), I don't feel like venturing off into database land again just yet. Still, Wilson doesn't miss a lot of bats as a starter and was a bit wild last year. Yes, he gets ground balls, but his home run rate is abnormally low. I wonder if that and the called strike thing are related? Oh gee, so much to investigate and so very little time. Slow down, Earth. What's your damn hurry?

Thu 05 May 19:10

JASON VARGAS* COLBY LEWIS

I just wrote like 600 words about Jason Vargas here. Don't expect more. You are so demanding! You can go read Mike Salk's treatment in somewhat the same vein and that yes, I call Vargas' cutter and his slider (if he actually has one) the same thing. They move, break and spin similarly.

On the surface, it looks like Colby Lewis is splattering back to Earth like we hope Michael Pineda does not do. A closer look reveals that his pitch and batted ball rates are very similar to last year. What has changed is that he's been teed off for home runs (ten already) and that the strikeouts have fallen without a corresponding significant drop in swinging or called strikes. His true talent rate probably lies somewhere between what it is now and what it was last year. In other words, Colby Lewis hasn't fallen apart. He's suffering the effects of Bedarditis and some likely overactive regression. Some chicken soup should clear that right up.

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