Angels 3 …..

STOP DA FIGHT

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Angels' corner tossed in the towel about two 4-run innings ago, I think ...

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Bottom Line

Paxton goes to 5-0, 1.75 in his first six MLB starts.  Maybe Gordon can draw us up a list of SP's who were 5-0 and 6-0 after six starts?

He's got 34 strikeouts and 9 walks, with 4 homers allowed, in 36.0 IP.  A nice symmetrical TTO line of 8.5 / 2.25 / 1.0 ... the two starting pitchers with the most similar TTO's to that, over the period 2011-13, are CC Sabathaa and David Price.  Like we sez, Paxton has deviated from script.  He has been pitching more like the virtuoso's than the napalm divebombers Koufax and Kershaw.

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IP 1 - Paxton digs into the 3-run hole

Conventional wisdom -- that on TV, anyway, from McClendon & Blowers et al -- was that Paxton was amp'ed up for the Big Home Opener.  Made a few mistakes in the first, but settled in and mowed them down later.

SSI's take is different.

......

Start by understanding:  K-Pax is in a mode now to where he "gets too much of the plate," like Pineda did for a short while.  I mean, not really - for Paxton it is not much of a problem, but hold that thought.  The starter point here is:  the batters know that the ball is going to BE there.

The Angels had the motto, "Our best pitches will be early-AB and early-game fastballs" and they came out desperate to get Paxton early in the count.  If you study the GameDay, you'll find out that's exactly what happened.  He didn't particularly make worse pitches in the 1st than he did later, but ... the first time through the lineup, Zunino wanted to establish the heater.  The Angels realized it was now or never.

It really is nothing to worry about, not a long-term problem.  Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw, anybody like that ... the batters want to try to prevent the pitcher from "getting to his breaking pitches" with two strikes.  

Following a "lucky" ground ball single by Trout, Albert Pujols managed to get on top of a real high, letter-high, 92 fastball for a two-run homer.  The vast majority of the time, that ball is a fly out; there isn't really any adjustment needed, or maybe even any adjustment desirable.

(The pitch to Freese was a poor one.  Every pitcher makes 12 or 15 such pitches a game.)

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/resume script

After the Angels' top half of the first, the 2014 battle reverted to normal.  Over the next 8.5 innings and 2.7 hours, the Mariners collected 8 hits and 5 runs against the Angels' 1 hit and 0 runs.

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IP 2-3 - Paxton settles into the rocking chair

First guy up in IP 2 was Raul Ibanez ... Paxton kinda got away with one, a 91 MPH fastball out and over, ground ball out by Ibanez.  But from there:

  1. Paxton out-muscled the bottom of the Angels' lineup as he found his velocity on the night, and
  2. The second time through the lineup, he started sequencing and they had no chance.

For example, here's the leadoff guy Calhoun, first man up in the third.  Paxton starts him with a high fastball, then tosses two "roll off the table" hooks and it's See You Later.  Like Randy Johnson against John Kruk.

Then against Mike Trout:

  • Smokin' hot 94 fastball at the knees, 0-1
  • 87 change, off the plate, a "show me" pitch, 1-1
  • 95 fastball down-in tears Zunino's glove off, swing through, 1-2
  • Big yakker rolls off the table, the fabulous Mike Trout achieves the unpossible:  to ground out weakly

And so on.  The cliche on these Walking Death Machines -- Koufax, Unit, Guidry, Paxton -- is get them before they start sequencing, or mail in the loss.  You see why.

(If you're curious, Albert Pujols finished IP 3 by grounding out on a 95 MPH cut fastball right on the inside black -- Albert looks like he's back to his 1.000 OPS this year.)  

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IP 4-5 - Stop Da Fight

In the 4th, after the M's took the lead, Paxton struck out the side with ridiculous ease.  Like they say, if there's a higher league, James Paxton would go to it ...

The at-bat against Hamilton was a mercy killing.  Paxton threw a yakker for a gimme strike one, and then two power slider/cutters looked like Unit-vs-Kruk again:

It could very well be that LH batters grab a lot of bench against Paxton, like they did against Randy Johnson.  He'll start sweeping that cutter to the outside corner and it'll get ugly.

..........

Paxton isn't going to go undefeated for his career.  He's groping in the dark out there.  But his debut stats run 8+ strikeouts, 2+ walks, 1.0 homers, and Dr. D is here to tell you that James is just now realizing that they can't handle his best game.

B'lee Dat.

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IP 6 - the "Slight Lat Strain"

McClendon in the postgame emphasized the "slight" part.  As we all know, "lat strain" is a catchall that is sometimes applied to bone cancer or demonic possession.  In this case, based on watching Paxton throw, we'll gingerly guess it is a --- > slight lat strain.

Supposing that he's out for 4-5 turns ... Taijuan pitches on Wednesday and could easily slide right into Paxton's slot.  With three major benefits:

  1. Lightening Paxton's eventual IP load on the year, and keeping him fresh to win 4 games in October :- )
  2. Giving Roenis Elias a chance to show he's Livan Hernandez
  3. Giving Chris Young a chance to show he's going to be back to 2007-09 for a few months

You'll get the followup reports before I do.  Gordon, you know what to do, eh hoser?

.......

Nervous thought of the day:  Dr. Mike Marshall broke something in his ribs, essentially ending his reign of terror, by adding a new pitch.  Felix Hernandez got that forearm strain when he got transfixed by the swerveball.  I hope that Paxton's new lat strain isn't because of the new cutter, but it's entirely possible.

The chance of those two things being causative ... oh, 5%, we'll guess.  But just so's you know we're payin' attention.  Paxton only threw 8 cutters in 60 pitches, so it's not like he went nuts with it, and that's what bit him.

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Bullpen

First seven games, we have seen our Best. Case. Scenario.

Wow.  SSI thought this group could easily bring the 2014 Jenga tower down.  Instead of that, they're out there one-up'ping each other.  And Justin Leone has hurled himself onto the pigpile.

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Dr's Prognosis

The little DL stint is going to distract every other blog from the real news tonight.  That being, "James Paxton is having wayyyy too much fun out there."

Focus boys focus,

Dr D

 

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Comments

...Is that it is a lot like "tendonitis." In doctor-ese, tendonitis means, "something is inflamed, and we don't know why.  Could be oversuse, or structural issues, or a torn whatchamicallit. Rest and see if it gets better."

A "lat strain" diagnosis means "something near your shoulder on your back went wonky, so we're hoping you didn't rip teres minor, jack up subscap, or mess up rib cartilage or an oblique.  The biggest muscle, that covers the whole area, is the lat, and it would freak out and seize up ANYWAY if something went wrong with a smaller muscle (rule #1 of musculature: big muscles attempt to cover up for small muscles when things go wrong) so we'll call it a lat strain and hope you didn't mess anything else up."

Paxton didn't seem too bothered, but I'm glad he didn't throw the next pitch.  If it IS a simple lat strain alone, it's merely an annoyance to recover from. Strasburg went through it last year and got DLed, IIRC - but only missed a couple weeks.

So that's what I'm hoping for.  Get the all-clear on other muscular and structural issues, don't push him that first week, and let him take the mound again after skipping a start or two.  We'll see - he might not miss any time, but I'd give him one turn out of the rotation, minimum.

~G

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That we know he is. Glad to see him shooting out of the gate like a star in his big-league career - he's got crazy amounts of talent, and being able to dismantle lineups like this keeps proving (to himself more than anyone else) that he can dictate to anyone.

Glad we pulled out the win for him, and hope that he'll be good to go shortly and continue his assault on the league. I'm okay with having dueling ROY candidates in Paxton and Walker. 

That really would be fine with me. Make it so.

~G

2

...if there's nothing else wrong at all that they can see, then I would just rearrange and have Young take a start with that extra off-day and see if paxton feels good in a bullpen session...if he has any issue at all...he sits a start and you give the ball to Walker next Tuesday. If he has no problem in bullpen, he goes as scheduled.

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mojicianIts actually an optimistic thing OBF, if we take a break off the excruciating Mariners playoff pressure to talk V-Mart and stuff, the 8 game win streak that will clinch this thing will be a pleasant surprise. Reverse psychology is appropriate to chillax bloggers who get too wound up and start grinding on their posts.1 hour 50 min ago
OBFGahhhh! What am I even talking about! ::Slaps self in the face:: We are still in the midst of a playoff push! We aren't eliminated yet! Free Agent Talk should be for December! Lets Go Mariners, beat the Angels!2 hours 39 min ago
OBFV-Mart is already 35... and coming off a career year... :/ I would sign him, but my fingers, toes, and eyes would be crossed... :) What about Billy Butler? Dude is only 28... Does KC pick up his 12.5 million dollar option? Does he bounce back from this, his worst year in the majors? What about Fat Ichiro? He is primed to come be a DH... and also is only 28... What about Melky Cabrera, he is only 29 and wouldn't have to just be DH? I guess that would be my starting short list, V-Mart, Country Breakfast, Kung-Fu Panda, Melky, or the Cuban Thomas.2 hours 41 min ago
SABR MattThe trouble with Vic Martinez is that he's coming off a career year and would likely force us to pay for that career year times 7. Would love to have him though, don't get me wrong. :)3 hours 4 min ago
MtGrizzlyVictor Martinez will be signing his last deal in the off season. Signing him would probably be a mistake but I'm ready to have a DH that can actually hit again.3 hours 31 min ago
SABR MattI don't think this is a GM skill issue OR a luck issue. I think our ballpark is not possible to build a balance offense in because players are inherently selfish in a selfish business and will not come to Seattle on short or medium length deals to watch their stats get crushed and lose money on the next deal. Either they sign here on their last ever deal (Cano)...or they sign here because they're desperate (everyone else)...no one actually wants to be here.5 hours 54 min ago
SABR MattCruz didn't want to be in Seattle. Period. Nothing we could do on that score, as you already note...and that is the tale of the Mariners. No good righty slugger would ever want to play here. Ever.6 hours 1 min ago
jemanjiWhat great comments Gordon. :: golf clap ::6 hours 15 min ago
Gordon GrossWe're 16-26 in 1-run games, and that's essentially a random coin-flip stat. I don't think it's QUITE random, as you're helped by having XBH-dudes on your team who can scare you up a run more easily, but regardless: that's where the playoffs are. If we'd gone 20-22 like Texas, we're solidly in the playoffs. We're back to that unlucky or incompetent offense question there.8 hours 23 min ago
Gordon GrossBased on what Cruz is doing for the Orioles, I'd say not getting him is when we lost the West. :) We're only 2 games out of the playoffs. We'd have won a couple more games with Cruz in the lineup instead of Smoak/LoMo/Hart/Romero, but we could have won those 2 games with a lot of different people. Just not the ones we had.8 hours 26 min ago
rick82I don't blame Z for his inability to sign Cruz, don't get me wrong. I applaud him for having the foresight to chase hard after him, while the blogosphere (present company excluded, of course) screamed bloody no. I'm just saying that when we look back, that is the moment we lost the playoffs. And yes, most of our preferred mid season hopes would have likewise failed. That's why Cruz is the point at which we lost.8 hours 50 min ago
Gordon GrossThe Ms still have the chance to surprise us one more time, and if they don't... well they still played their hearts out. Next year should be this year +8 or 10 wins. We just need to find those wins. And enjoy the offseason "regression to the mean" comments about the rotation and the pen and mathematical "explanations" of how the Ms can't compete and should trade their best players. Trust me, I'm disappointed we couldn't find the offense to get over the hump (from the looks of it). But it doesn't spoil the season. I guess in a 162-game season I'm more about the journey. Playoffs are great, a championship would be amazing, but I want to watch my team play well (often...) and provide some good memories. This season is there. We just need next season to be even better.9 hours 4 min ago
Gordon GrossWe offered Cruz more money than he signed for. He didn't wanna come here. I don't blame him - his plan is working out PERFECTLY for him. As for this year: the Mariners are not done, but it is a long shot. So was '95. People are acting like we lost a hundred games again or something. "Fire Everyone! Burn down the Safe! Pitchforks and torches for all!" I understand the emotion, but we got 6 months of watchable baseball this year instead of cashing out in the middle of May. Try to enjoy it. :)9 hours 9 min ago
OBFAs far as Cruz goes... what did you want Jack to do? Kidnap him? Drug him? He offered him 4 times MORE than what he accepted in Baltimore, should he have offered 10 times? 20 times? At what point does it become important to you that a player actually WANTS to play here? Do I think that the offense scoring 3 runs a game is acceptable? No... Do I think that Jack's plan was a good one? Yes. Did it work out? Not yet, however we are on the cusp of the playoffs and we are interested and emotional invested in a Mariners team in MID SEPTEMBER... (Which hasn't happened in 10 plus yeas)... So even today I consider this season a success, and even though it feels doubtful today, I am still hoping and pulling for a nice little win streak to take over those pesky Royals or annoying A's... Go M's!9 hours 25 min ago
OBFSometimes... the players have to play... If we are going to crucify Mr. Z for his Mid Season trades (Trades we were all excited about a month and a half ago) then we should all also agree that Billy Beane is the worst GM in the history of GM's his mid season deals have practically killed the best team in the AL. Yeah the A's will probably limp into the playoffs, but did anyone think that in June they wouldn't end the season with the best record in the league?? Sometimes the idea is solid (who WOULDN'T want Lester on their team...) but the players have to execute. The GM can only look good if the players play well! And the A's offense minus Cespedes have pooped the bed! Austin Jackson might still end up being that 3+ WAR win player that he was a couple years ago in Detroit, but HE is the one that has to do it, all Jack can do is bring him here. I still think that was a good trade and still have high hopes for AJ going forward.9 hours 31 min ago
SABR MattI'm betting our pitching implodes after 2015.9 hours 57 min ago
rick82I have a bet with a friend, Red Sox fan, who has for the last decade trashed the front office in terms we are all very familiar with: front office doesn't care, doesn't compete, but unlike the Red Sox fans, the fans here sit back and accept it. Last year I said that this season we would take a major step forward, and become a winning season. In 2015, we would have the "Jamesian" fall back, consolidation season, which often happens when a young team surprises. With no quick answers for the offense on the horizon, I definitely see that happening. Then, in 2016, we win 90 games. I was basing this mostly on our discussions here with Gordon, who pointed to 2016. I said this would happen with one caviat: Z is retained through it all (no Bavasi blowing it up). I still see this scenario played out, but I would feel better about it if we replaced Z at this point. He did his work. Time to find that roster builder.10 hours 11 min ago
SABR MattI think we have to get Tomas and then whatever is left we need to spend on middle-tier outfield upgrades.10 hours 45 min ago
MtGrizzlyThe market for FA hitters is going to be pretty bleak. Do you spend big $$$ to lure Victor to Seattle through his age 40 season? Take a shot at Melky? Ugh...11 hours 2 min ago
SABR MattSeason. Over.11 hours 49 min ago