When you face off against a guy named Homer, you should inherently hold the advantage. Same goes for whenever Grant Balfour enters a game. They have no place on a pitcher mound. Their parents willed it this way. The fact they found their way onto the bump should do nothing more than activate some form of a sacrificial seance. Hitters, pop those mouth guards out. Today, you’re eatin’.
That was not the case.
We interpreted Mr. Bailey’s name all wrong. In fact, Homer Bailey is pitcher designed specifically for the obnoxious fan. That fan who fans their fandom no matter what. You know, the fan with drums, whistles, vuvuzelas, didgeridoos and such. A homer... if you will. An Athletics fan.
Also, he looks like Christian Bale.
Nobody likes Christian Bale.
But instead of totally besmirching the Oakland Athletics Baseball Experience™, I did want to give some kudos where kudos are due. Yes, the Athletics are doing one good thing.
Our own Nick Stillman was in attendance this afternoon for some Bay Area lunch-pail stick and ball. To he and our delight, Nick noticed the Athletics are now showcasing some more appreciable statistics on their big board. The days of batting average and home runs may not be totally gone, but Oakland is making an effort.
fWAR listed as the primary stat on the coliseum Jumbotron. Your move, @TMobilePark pic.twitter.com/yQjY1ZuOOf— Nicholas Stillman (@nick_at_day) July 17, 2019
Ignore the WAR values themselves (oof), but look! WAR!
But wait, there’s more.
OPS? Sign me up. More of this, Mariners/T-Mob.
I’d like to touch on a couple things from today’s game that folks should keep an eye on moving forward. The first of which is Erik Swanson and his unfortunate inability to develop an out pitch. Swanson relies heavily on a high fastball and an average slider. Unfortunately, the fastball is flat, and at 93 mph, it’s going to be awfully difficult to blow it by major league hitters on a regular basis.
This baseball wasn't insured @JURICKSONPROFAR#RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/L2pF1Vxzar— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 17, 2019
Now, that isn’t to say Swanson doesn’t have the stuff to develop into a major league rotation option. He actually does. But he’s going to have to continue to develop his changeup and employ it to get ahead of hitters early in counts. Once he’s shown the heater a couple of times, it’s just not deceptive enough to do the job on its own.
Swanson actually pitched a rather effective two innings of work today. He surrendered an annoying sun-double, followed by a subsequent two-run yolk-show to Jurickson Profar. A 13-pitch walk to Matt Olson was also allowed. Realistically, his line probably should have been closer to 2 innings, 1 hit, and 1 ER. But that’s baseball.
Secondly, I’d like to touch on J.P. Crawford and his recent struggles. This isn’t as much a case of bad luck as much as it is some poor swing habits. He’s 5 for his last 46 since June 29, and a lot of it has to do with his inability to drive the ball as of late.
Crawford is finding himself on his front foot far too often with his weight leaning into pitches. The problem is, he’s receiving a heavy dose of breaking balls and when that’s the case, you’re either going to roll over the ball, or you’re going to flip a weak fly ball into the outfield.
As you can see, since he started scuffling, the line drive percentage has dropped dramatically. The last week or so has shown more promise, but today was a rough one for Crawford. As long as his weight isn’t back, and especially when teams shift on him like Oakland did today, he’ll be running in mud.
Listen, no, days like this are not particularly fun. Seattle was just thoroughly outmatched in every facet of the game. But reinforcements are on the way. Jake Fraley, Kyle Lewis, and Justin Dunn are all possibly headed to Seattle come September 1 according to Ryan Divish. Stick with it, Mariners fans. Greener pastures are on the horizon.