It's a glorious Sunday afternoon, and I'm not about to let the Mariners ruin it for me by staying inside writing the whole time. Bullet points just come so much easier.
Biggest Contribution: Ichiro, +9.5%
Biggest Suckfest: Jarrod Washburn, -38.3%
Most Important At Bat: Ichiro single, +6.7%
Most Important Pitch: Lamb grand slam, -27.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -36.1%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -7.5%
Total Contribution by Opposition: -6.7%
- Regression is swift. Jarrod Washburn needs to get those three words tattooed on his forehead. Remember a month ago when people thought he was a brand new pitcher? Yeah, he's not. In fact, one could argue that he's actually gotten worse - his strikeout rate is down from 12.8% to 12.1%, and his walk rate is up from 6.6% to 7.7%. Even his newfound ability to induce groundballs seems to be disappearing as he inches closer to his usual ratio. The only thing keeping his ERA as low as it is is luck with fly balls, and as we've seen in the past, that won't continue.
Jarrod Washburn is a steady back-of-the-rotation starter who looks like more than that when he's pitching in Safeco as part of a terrible rotation. Today was a bit of a shock, as he almost never gets completely blown out of the water like this, but you can't point at some freak display like his start against the Yankees without also looking at games like this. He's a great, funny guy, he's well-suited to our ballpark, and he eats up innings, but he's not one of our strengths, and it tells you something about the status of the team when we're left having to rely on Jarrod Washburn to pull us out of a rut. Somebody please give us a pitcher before it's too late.
- As much as I want to say the Mariners lost today because of crappy situational hitting, let's look at this:
Men on: 7-21
One of those is phenomenal, and the other's not bad. The issue is that every last one of those hits was a single. This isn't the fastest group of players in the world, so oftentimes a single won't be enough to drive a guy home (see Broussard getting thrown out at home on a play where I actually thought he was safe, or Ibanez stopping at third in the fifth). You need to be able to hit with power, and with Beltre out of the lineup and Sexson basically also out of the lineup, we just aren't getting enough of it right now. I'm not going to let myself get too discouraged, since the offense has only really run into trouble with Beltre out and the pitcher batting, but this is a trend that needs to reverse itself. The Mariners have some good power in this lineup; it's time for them to show it.
- According to THT, the Mariners' team defense is now down to fourth-worst in baseball. That Raul Ibanez isn't DH'ing yet just boggles the mind. Moving him out of the field and Vidro out of the lineup to make room for Adam Jones would be such a big upgrade that the fact it hasn't happened is kind of a black eye for the organization. Make the change. I don't care if Mike Hargrove isn't a big fan of young players, because I know he's a fan of winning, and one little change could make that happen more frequently.
- Mike Lamb is an irritating son of a bitch.
- Brandon Morrow is gassed. Earlier this year he was hitting 98-99 with ease; today he struggled to touch 96, throwing the overwhelming majority of his fastballs at 92-94. This despite getting two days off. I think he's just completely out of steam, and I doubt the extra velocity comes back unless the Mariners give him a break. I can understand a reluctance to send him to the minors to start after seeing what he can do at 100%, and with all the uncertainty surrounding Mark Lowe, but at the very least they need to DL him with some fake injury (tendinitis! Do I hear tendinitis?) so he can rest his arm for a few weeks. What he's doing now is bad for the team and bad for his confidence.
Why did this happen after barely two months of work? My best guess is this: Morrow hardly threw last year. After getting drafted, he logged just 16 professional innings, none of them against advanced competition. Even if you want to count his season at Berkeley, he wasn't throwing many critical pitches at max effort against awesome hitters. Pitching with the Mariners, as you can imagine, is substantially different. After impressing the coaching staff in ST, Morrow was all but handed a job as the setup guy, being asked to come out and work high-leverage innings against Major League hitters. The way Morrow was able to succeed in that role was by pumping everything up there as hard as he could. Considering what Morrow was doing just a year earlier, this created a ton of physical and psychological stress that appears to be taking its toll now that we're into the middle of the season. It's not just about total innings; Morrow's had a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season, and he did an admirable job of dealing with it for as long as he did. Unfortunately, though, it appears that he can't do it anymore.
Do I blame Morrow for this? Of course not. I blame the organization for not seeing this as a possibility when they kept him with the ballclub out of ST, although after seeing him strike out a few guys, you can understand why they got so attached.
But we don't need to assign blame, here. Instead of looking to the past, we need to look ahead and try to figure out how Morrow will become successful again. Having him pitch every two or three days won't do it, I don't think, which really just leaves us with DL or demotion. I'd prefer the latter, but then I'm not in any position to call the shots, so whatever. Making him go away creates the need for a new 8th inning guy, but that's something the team needs to do regardless of whether or not Morrow sticks around. Sherrill looks good. Hell, even Green might be able to do the job for a little while now that he's getting strikeouts.
Maybe this is just a dead arm phase that Morrow'll work through without having to miss any time, and I'll end up completely wrong, but I don't think it is - the fatigue explanation just fits too well. Wherever he ends up, here's to Morrow getting some rest.
- Time to add the Houston broadcast team to my shit list. From their lack of objectivity to their endless stream of cliches to their mispronunciations to their frequent lapses of concentration in which they completely forget that a game's being played, I'm glad I never have to deal with these guys again for a long long time. If it's "baseball justice" that Ben Broussard get thrown out at home after rolling a weak infield single, then God must have something spectacular in store to get back for all those times Brad Ausmus has reached base over the past seven years.
Off day tomorrow yesssssssssssssssss