Again, relatively quick, since there's no point in writing a friggin' thesis when there's another game at 1pm:
Biggest Contribution: Richie Sexson, +25.9%
Biggest Suckfest: Jeff Harris, -23.8%
Most Important "Hit": Sexson homer, +17.2%
Most Important Pitch: Mora homer, -14.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -27.8%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -37.1%
Jeff Harris: great guy, great story, not much of a pitcher. At least, not so far. He's homer-prone and extremely hittable, with as many walks as he has strikeouts. His 6.12 fielding-independent ERA is eighth-worst in baseball among guys with at least 35 innings under their belt (albeit still better than Matt Thornton). You watch him pitch and think that maybe his deceptive delivery will mess with the hitter's timing, but honestly, he's not fooling anyone. To make matters worse, he's got one of the higher flyball rates in baseball. In order to succeed when you don't miss many bats, you need to keep the ball on the ground, and Harris just hasn't done that. While it may be too early to label him a AAAA pitcher, right now we have no reason to believe anything else. Fortunately for Jeff, Ryan Franklin's racked up a remarkable amount of Major League service time as a AAAA pitcher, so not all hope is lost.
One guy who did not get much action on Singles Night at Safeco:
Scott Atchison made his return and did his Scott Atchison thing, but the bigger story was Rafael Soriano coming in to pitch the ninth. How'd he look? Strictly in terms of his pitches:
Strikes: 18 (72%)
Strikes: 12 (67%)
Velocity: 92-95 (standard deviation: 0.83)
Strikes: 6 (86%)
Velocity: 84-85 (standard deviation: 0.55)
The most encouraging thing, other than his actual return to the mound, is that Soriano showed good command of his slider, keeping it low and away from the hitter. His fastball, although well hidden through his delivery, was flying all over the place, possibly a function of Soriano's whipping action when he releases the ball. It's the kind of thing that adds a little sting to the ball, but it also (A) makes for an inconsistent release point, and (B) puts some extra stress on the elbow. Allowing for the fact that he's always pitched like that, though, how can we expect him to pitch over the final three weeks? He's still getting his velocity back, and isn't at the point where he can blow it by a guy with a quick bat (Geronimo Gil doesn't count). Hitters don't get a good look at the ball out of Soriano's hand, but at 92-93mph, his fastball's still just slow enough for guys to be able to respond mid-flight and put a good swing on it. We saw Miguel Tejada drill the ball the other way for a run-scoring double; in the previous at bat, Melvin Mora had taken a low fastball to straightaway center, where Jeremy Reed ran it down near the track. Right now, Soriano's a decent pitcher, but he's not where he used to be, nor is he particularly close. We'll know a lot more by Spring Training '06.
Felix Hernandez goes against Bruce Chen at 1:05pm PDT.