|Cracking "The Safe": The Seattle Mariners|
|~ Everything to do with the Seattle Mariners ~|
Monday, June 12, 2006
Some guys are destined to be relievers. Maybe their fastball and changeup are lights out, but their curveball is out of the park. Maybe their control takes a vacation from time to time. For these men, the seventh, eigth, and ninth innings are their chance to go toe to toe with baseball royalty and play the hero or the goat. Relievers, by this rationale, must be forgiven for their unbridled enthusiasm when closing out the bottom of the seventh with a nasty slider that leaves the opposing hitter floundering.
Then there are talents like Felix Hernandez. His struggles this season have been well documented. His fastball has strayed. His command has wandered. He has missed target after target. But Felix has also shown enough poise to do what the great ones do in times of distress. They buckle down.
Consider that today a 20 year old kept the Angels hitless for 5 innings after surrendering a run in the first. The scary scenario for Mariner opponents is that Felix Hernandez gets BETTER as the game goes on. The book on him now reads, "get to him in the first couple of innings or you are in BIG trouble". The King is learning what has kept Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and countless others successful through the years. You have to adapt. Fastball not treating you so well? Throw the deuce. Mix it up. Throw away the script. Pitch off instinct not charts. Hitters read those too.
This season hitters are lighting up Felix in his first 15 pitches. They are hitting .487, have an on-base percentage of .571, and an OPS of 1.200. In the next 15 pitches, those numbers get cut in half. By the time Felix gets between pitches 76-105 (where he likely gets taken out to avoid being overworked) opponenents can only muster a .183 BA, a .274 on-base percentage, and a .547 OPS.
Ladies and gentleman, don't worry, The King is just fine.
Out of hiatus, I'm back to the blogging.
I've been following the M's closely this season and it's been really hard not to chime in the good, bad, and ugly.
After last nights game, I had a couple of observations. Gil Meche held a good hitting Angels team in check despite horrible command of his fastball. Sound familiar? It should, Mariner starters have all had their bouts with "fastballitis". But even though Gil Meche has been consistently inconsistent throughout his career, his secondary offerings (mostly changeup, curveball, occasionally slider) are good enough to compensate for a rough fastball. And he managed to get off the hook against the Halos despite a miserable groundball to flyball ratio. That's right, two groundball outs, THIRTEEN flyball outs.
More alarmingly, the case can be made that Gil Meche psychologically pitches himself out of games OUTSIDE the friendly confines of Safeco Field. This year, batters are hitting a paltry .206 in Meche's six starts at The Safe. In 40 innings, he has yielded 29 hits, 3 HRs, walked 13, and struckout 42. All that with an ERA of 2.70.
On the road, we get to see FrankenMeche. In seven starts, Meche has ripped to the tune of a .322 BA. He has only managed 37.2 innings, but given up 48 hits, walked 24, and struckout only 20. His road ERA? 6.38.
His three year splits support the idea that he is better at home than away. But not this much better. The law of averages says that Gil will pitch better on the road for the rest of the season and his home numbers should get worse. But Meche's worst starts this year have come on the road and against Cleveland, Boston, and Texas, all teams that can mash with the best of them.
Here's to hoping that Meche can continue to improve his command and challenge hitters with his plus arsenal. The guy obviously has talent, and maybe this is the year he becomes less of a headcase.
On a seperate note, Bavasi made some remarks concerning Jeremy Reed before yesterday's game that should spark some interest. He basically said that the time has come for Reed to produce or his time in Seattle is over. He mentioned the platoon situation with Bloomquist as something that they like. Reed will probably be another Seattle cast-off that has a great career elsewhere so hopefully we can get something of value for him.