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Open Game Thread: 4/27/2019

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How many tools will it take to beat the Rangers?

This bobble head of Charlie Furbush is fantastic
Seattle Mariners

Yesterday’s dramatic and sensational walk-off victory featured Mitch Haniger executing a near-perfect Tactical Groundout into the third baseman’s mitt. A stunning move that caught the Rangers off guard and cemented victory. A brilliant piece of game strategy.

Against the Rangers today, Mike Leake is set to deploy his own special tactic: throw baseballs at the strike zone until someone hits one. Unfortunately, this year has seen that strategy result in many, many dingers. He’s not been keeping the ball on the ground (career-low 38% GB rate) and when the balls have been in the air, they’ve been leaving the yard at a pretty extraordinary 20% HR/FB rate. Leake could be struggling to keep the ball down, but it’s interesting to see that he’s also running a career-high 19.5% strikeout rate.

Here are Leake’s 2018 pitch locations when ahead in the count:

And in 2019:

He’s been pitching up in the zone quite a bit more, especially when ahead. Whether that is by design or by accident or just early-season noise, I’m not sure. But it would be great if he could stop giving up dingers and keep striking everyone out. That would be swell.

His opponent today is... well...

Let’s do a little Player A vs. Player B, shall we?

Player A: Named Mike, is 31 years old, was drafted in the 1st round in 2009, made his debut in 2010, and is a pitcher in the AL West.

Player B: Is Mike Leake.

I don’t think I did that right. Anyway, Mike Minor is on the bump and has been pitching fairly well, sporting a 4.18 FIP, though he isn’t striking many batters out and is walking them at an 8.5% clip. But I don’t care about Mike Minor. I don’t care about him at all.

LINEUPS!

Mallex Smith is back in center tonight against a left hander and is hitting ninth. Hopefully Mallex’s early work in center field pays off because his defense has been... not great.

Also, a new hire:

Rob Benjamin is another forward-thinking hitting twitter hire. His specific role is not yet known, but from a cursory glance at his feed, he falls in line with the Mariners’ holistic coaching approach.

It is Mitch Haniger “Five-Tool” bobble head night tonight. Go get you one.

Game Time: 6:10 PM PT

TV: ROOT

Radio: 710 AM ESPN

Online: MLB.TV