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8/22/20: Open Game Thread

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The penultimate game of the 2020 season’s first half leads with a Sheff and a journeyman.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The coming week will feature plenty of trade deadline talk, likely shaping up to a relatively dull affair bolstered by the fact that Seattle should play a somewhat central role. Taijuan Walker, Matt Magill, and Dan Altavilla all figure to be discussed, as well as some of the veterans on the Mariners depth chart. Last year, Seattle parlayed 3.1 innings of Hunter Strickland into a couple minor prospects from the future world champs, so anything is possible.

Both of tonight’s starters know a thing or two about expectations and trades. Texas RHP Jordan Lyles was the 38th overall pick in 2008 by Houston, struggling mightily despite mildly better peripherals as a youngster on the early 2010s disAstros before being dealt to the Rockies as half the return for OF Dexter Fowler. A glimmer of hope at age 23 was not built upon, as inconsistency dogged Lyles from Colorado to San Diego. The Padres waived him, giving him a brief stint of success with the Brewers before free agency led him to Pittsburgh, who dealt him right back to Milwaukee to resurge. This year, on a two year/$16 million deal, the 29 year old is running into similar issues as all his non-Milwaukee stops, with a difficulty to miss bats paired with an infuriatingly low ability to strand runners that do get on.

As a former 31st overall pick, Sheffield has been dealt a few times himself. First, from Cleveland to the Yankees as a co-headliner for relief ace Andrew Miller, then of course as the centerpiece of the return for LHP James Paxton. There’s reason for cautious optimism for the 24 year old southpaw, as he’s begun to work the ball in the zone with greater frequency and control, but at last is getting the benefits of his low-spin fastball with a true sinker and increasingly sharp changeup to go with his ever-sharp slider. There’s some spots of likely regression in his profile for good (60% strand rate should improve, huge gap between FIP and ERA) and ill (he will eventually give up a home run), but this is a recipe for Sheffield to stick in the rotation and give himself the chance to consistently work 6+ innings.

Lineups!

Evan White is back, which is good. Dylan Moore is injured, which is bad (blurb here). Jake Fraley is present, which is hopefully good? Sam Haggerty is hitting second, where you want your best (or one of your best) hitter(s), which is... evidence someone showed Scott Servais Kumar Rocker highlight videos.

Game Time: 6:10 PM PT

TV: ROOT
Radio: 710 AM ESPN
Online: MLB.TV

Also, since Mikey Ajeto has a fever, and the only prescription is publishing articles on the weekend when you wonderful people are far less likely to see it, I will link his latest work on the Mariners giving Taylor Williams the Austin Adams treatment - with a twist - right here.