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Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays @ Seattle Mariners

-11.6 (26th) -6.4 0.4 (15th) Toronto
2.4 (10th) -3.0 6.6 (6th) Toronto
1.4 (11th) 2.0 5.5 (2nd) Toronto
-7.8 (21st) -7.4 12.6 (5th) TORONTO

Despite giving up a number of runs, the pitching isn't the problem so far this season. While the Mariners have yielded the seventh-most amount of runs per game --and ninth-most earned--, they rank ninth in FIP, xFIP and in tRA. It's remarkable really how they are ninth in all three. The biggest cause of the discrepancy is a league-worst 59% strand rate. Typically that hovers around the low 70s with some (meaningful) variation correlated to a team's strikeout rate. The Mariners are a middle-of-the-pack strikeout team so you would be within your wits to expect the team to stop allowing so many runs to cross the plate.

Mon 11 April 19:10


Somebody today is going to use the phrase "stop the bleeding" with Felix Hernandez. It is a stand-in for saying that they wish for the starting pitcher to turn in a really good game and stop a losing streak.* The problem here is that, as mentioned above, the pitching hasn't really been at fault for this losing streak. It's the hitting letting the team down and not being a National League game, there's precious little that Felix could do to address that particular problem. Somebody is going to say it and that somebody is going to be misapplying a baseball cliché.

*Fun fact: Dave Fleming once had the nickname "the tourniquet" because he was really good at "stopping the bleeding" one year. In 1992, from 26 April to 16 May, the Mariners lost every game that Fleming did not start. He would also "stop" additional three, four and five-game losing streaks that season.** Naturally, in 1994 Dave Fleming turned into a pitching pumpkin and the nickname disappeared. Which is a good thing because by then calling on Fleming to stop the bleeding was more akin to putting one between the eyes than to slapping a bandage on the wound.

**Less Fun Fact: Dave Fleming lost all three of his starts during a 14-game losing streak in September of 1992.

Jesse Litsch, meanwhile, is difficult to figure out. He was much better all the way back in 2008 and even threw a goodly amount of strikes. Then he missed a bunch of time and has seemingly lost some bit of his control, but over quite a small sample. 

Tue 12 April 19:10


Take Michael Pineda's graph with a grain of salt. No wait, don't. You probably already have way too much salt in your diet. Take Pineda's graph with some carrots; they're good for you. I had to do some guessing on a few of Pineda's pitches as pitch f/x went away in his dominant fourth inning. Pineda's limited slate of pitch types doesn't require pitch f/x to classify, but it going away also meant that the radar gun readings disappeared which is really helpful in determining the difference between his change up and his slider. I am skeptical, but it sure looks like he tossed two or three change ups that inning to right-handed batters. 

Ricky Romero is like a left-handed Felix if Felix never developed command. He has a slew of pitches and can miss bats and keep the ball on the ground with the best of them. That alone is a potent combination, even if you do have trouble keeping the walks down. 

Wed 13 April 12:40


Kyle Drabek is another young pitcher without much of a Major League track record. With little data, the graphs tend to oscillate between 20 and 80 grades because so much can happen over just a handful of starts; especially early in a pitcher's career when the advanced scouting reports haven't caught up to them yet.