I took last night off, which means I did not witness the Mariners’ by-all-accounts-uninspired loss to the lowly Diamondbacks. I listened to the first few innings while driving through the weird smoky apocalyptic hellscape of greater Seattle, feeling grit on my tongue, which sort of seemed to go with the whole vibe of the game. Today the sky outside my window is a violent ochre, which doesn’t seem to portend well, but nevertheless, we march on.
The good news: Justus Sheffield gets the start for the Mariners, and he’s been solid-if-not-spectacular for most of the season, and I know this because somehow I only ever seem to recap Justus Sheffield starts, so we’re close personal friends. His ERA has steadily ticked down as the season has worn on, the changeup is starting to emerge as a legitimate third pitch, and he’s knocked his BB% down from double digits to a meh-but-acceptable 8%. There have been days where he’s had his command and days where he hasn’t, but those days are fewer and farther between and when they do occur, he’s shown an ability to grit through his starts with minimal to moderate damage. All in all, if the SS Mariner is going to get turned around from this losing streak, Captain Sheffield is a good one to have at the helm.
Unfortunately, the Mariners’ light-hitting lineup will be facing off against Zac Gallen, who is, in case you didn’t know, really friggin’ good. I remember being super-relieved when Gallen was promoted from Triple-A last year, because he was constantly trying to edge our own golden boy Ljay Newsome off the top of the minor-league K/BB leaderboard. The Marlins, after promoting Gallen to MLB last June, traded Gallen to Arizona at the trade deadline for Top-100 prospect Jazz Chisholm in an interesting challenge trade. Chisholm, a shortstop, was only recently promoted to Miami, so it’s early yet to judge the trade, but it’s definitely worked out so far for Arizona. Gallen has been a Top 10 pitcher by ERA both last year and this year, and he’s in the top 25 of all pitchers by fWAR this season (trailing our own Marco Gonzales by just a hair). Famously, he recently set the MLB record for the most straight starts (23) with three or fewer runs scored against him. It sure looks like Arizona traded for a top-of-the-rotation budding ace, so it’s hard not to currently weight the trade in the D-Backs’ favor. Unfortunately for the Mariners, this could mean a long night at the yard against Gallen and his curveball:
Zac Gallen, Beautiful 81mph Knuckle Curve. pic.twitter.com/2r9MBwl4dl— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 8, 2020
And whatever this dark sorcery is:
Sigh. If you want to read Jake’s Stuff+ breakdown of how good Gallen is, check out the series preview here. If like, super-good pitching is your thing or whatever.
Game time: 5:10 PT
Available on: ROOT Sports NW (TV), 710 ESPN Seattle (radio), MLB TV (streaming, out of area only).