Marc-O, Early Innings
you can do it, my child, you can do it

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BEST BET

Somewhere about the 7th inning, Brandon Maurer showed up at Safeco.  Wearing cleats.  Dr. D can honestly say this is the only Best Bet he's ever regretted.  Now and again he wonders what happened to Maurer, without looking it up, of course -- that could threaten to make Dr. D a "smart mark" or "smark" for the people who sell baseball.  They like him just as he is, a pure "mark."

Anyway, Maurer blew down the first 2 hitters on a 94-MPH fastball for a weak groundout, and a crackling 82-MPH overhand yakker for a called strikeout.  THIS is the type of occasion that gets Dr. D wondering about BB for BM, as opposed to wondering about it while he's driving down the road with a Skittles Freeze.  (Maurer like walked the next two guys on borderline "nibble" pitches and gave up an RBI hit, explaining a lot of things.)

Dr. D does remember that he got his Best Bet down in time on Mitch Haniger, "in time" being --- > before most Denizens were confident he would be an impact player.

He was wayyyyyyyy in time on Marc-O Gonzalez, obviously; one of the few flame wars in recent SSI history was over Marc-O, after his 3rd and 4th starts this season.  But!  Dr. D never strictly labeled him a "Best Bet."  Curse it all, anyway.  Dr. D often likes to picture his keyboard and monitor on fire, which juuuussssst almost occurred two weeks ago, and which will again occur if you mooks fail to throw your potatoes into the hobo pot.

C'mon, what's the trouble with a sentence giving your own personal reaction to a story.  Hold it, this was going to be about Marc-O Gonzales, wasn't it?

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PREGAME

Giving impressions inning-by-inning:  pregame it was YOU BETTER LOCK DOWN THESE FEEBS, YOU IDIOTA.  The Royals have scored like 59 runs this MONTH and should be prey as easy for a Marco Gonzales as Dr. D would be for a pack of Rottweilers.

Marc-O came in 7-5, 4.04 with a 7.9 strikeout, 2.0 walk ratio and a BTA 1.0 homer rate.  Of course Safeco also has a BTA homer rate.  Dr. D wanted to see a game that would glitz up the stats a little - at bare minimum, reducing the ERA to 3+ where the Mainframe insists it should be.

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FIRST INNING

Marco opened up by firing two 90 MPH paintballs, odd for him generally but even for him to start a game.  Whitfield smoked the second one into CF.  Dr. D's impression of this:  Marco had no time to get into anyone's head yet.

KC bunted Whitfield over and then Marco spun and picked Whitfield off 2B, which says a lot about the Royals -- as well as the fact that Marco looks and moves a lot more like a right fielder or a third baseman than he looks and moves like James Paxton.

Moustakas took a jam pitch for a ball and then rolled over a 90 MPH paintball outside, easy groundout.

IMPRESSION:  Ummmmmmm ... Marc-O had thrown 5 pitches, 4 of them located fastballs, so whattaya want from me anyway.  

(Probably, a cute stat.  Okay, in 9 innings the maximum pitch count he had was ---- > 13, in any single inning.  The average # pitches in a baseball inning is 15-16 so lemme know the next time you see 9x13.)

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SECOND INNING

As he took the mound, Dr. D wondered about Marc-O's "Pitch Mix" and when it would start.  (He finished with 25-28-26 along with 17 cut fastballs.  If you need to know whether fastball, curve, or change associates with 25-28-26 you haven't been paying attention to what SSI is, brother.)

Gonzales fanned Salvador Perez on 3 pitches:  Curve outside, painted fastball away, change jusssst low-away.  Prettt-ay.  The exploitation of a shrill, jumpy hitting star in a slump.

At this point Dan Wilson started talking about 1st-pitch strikes.  Apparently MG is #5 in all of baseball for 1st-pitch strikes.  Lessee .... WHAAAAAAT!!!! :: looney tunes sproingy eyes ::  It's 68.1% ?!

Sixty-eight percent first strikes, and he's giving them nothing to hit.  Those first strikes are curves at the knees, or cut fastballs on the hands, or ...

SECOND INNING IMPRESSION:  Vast, complete satisfaction as Dr. D basks in his hero's perfect second inning.  Marc-O is grooving it and we're talking Mega Quality Start.

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-- Next --

Blog: 

Comments

1

One of my favorite types of games, this one. Gonzalez' 13 pitch shtick doesn't happen often in any era, but it's becoming increasingly rare with time. Still, it does have a name. A complete nine-inning game on fewer than 100 pitches is sometimes referred to as a Maddux, since it's namesake had starts like this several times a season throughout his career.

2

Didn't get to watch the game last night, but was able to tune in the last two innings of the archived MLBtv this morning.

When I noticed Marco's pitch count in the ninth, I turned to my son-in-law and said, "There was a guy back in the day who pitched for the Padres, name o' Randy Jones. He was one of the original soft-tossing lefties, and he would routinely throw complete games in less than 100 pitches." Now that I think about it, I seem to recall he tossed one CG with 70-something pitches. I'd be interested in seeing some stats that demonstrate how unusual was Randy Jones in his pitching efficiency.

Jones in 1976, 40 starts (in the days when the five-man rotation was already becoming the norm), a whopping 25 complete games, 315 innings, 22 wins for the bloomin' Padres, sub 3 ERA.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jonesra01.shtml

Haniger = Al Kaline

Marco = Randy Jones

Zunino = Dave Kingman as a catcher

Healy = Trumbo-Cron

Segura = Bill Madlock at SS

6
(not)Mike's picture

Marco was reminding me of Jason Vargas + a couple mph and athleticism... Vargas' best games were always fun to watch, making mlb hitters look like mooks.

8
balkyboy's picture

When Dipoto first came in and to hear him speak,  I wondered, will he draft and trade to his player development philosophy.  That philosophy:  'We will expect you to learn what is learnable.  We will provide all the tools and effective communication to make that happen'.  I dunno but....Marco and, say,  Logan Gilbert, seem like great self-learners.  Is the organization targeting such players?

9

Any number of people would love to take credit for Marco's success.  But is there any org in which he would not have regained his arm strength, mixed his pitches, and thrown strikes?

10

See your own comment on Marco pitching to Zunino - the Ms, it seems to me, have been the perfect Org for him. A pleasant competitive atmosphere, people helping each other, a catcher who is just as cerebral in approach but is also very upbeat and encouraging. They didn't dump on him when he started shakily, haven't dumped on him when he's had a poor inning, and seem to be letting him grow while still being a very competitive team. The Cardinals seemingly were bypassing him for newer, shinier toys. The Ms have let him recover, regain his pitches, regain his confidence, and fulfill his promise. I seriously question whether one of the big city/major media teams would/could have had the patience to let this play out.

This is also why I think Chris Archer would be a good fit here. He's also a very talented guy with some things to work through to regain his mojo. This is a town and region that would value his off-field activities while allowing him to regain the on-mound dominance he has shown from time-to-time. He's young enough (pace Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ) to become a part of a new tradition, nice enough as a person to settle right in, and talented enough to be the next turn-around story a la Segura. He wants to play on a contender - well, here's one that also can show *some* patience. I'm really hopeful Dipoto can work something out.

Would be especially interested in TJM's and SABRMatt's takes on the environment here v. "The Big City" and how this team seems to fit.

11
tjm's picture

Bat, I tend to agree with Doc that Marco would have recovered anywhere. He's such an old-fashioned "make-up" guy. I remember a comment he made in spring training when people were questioning the rotation and he was, like, What the heck are you talking about? We got Felix, Pax and me! Nobody can top that.  (Of course, I NEVER doubted this rotation. Well, a little. OK, a lot. I thought DiPo was nuts.)

And I'm not sure the city matters as much as the org, altho I suppose you could argue it's hard to tell where one starts and the other one ends. I mean, are the Yankees and Red Sox free-spending because of the orgs or because of the markets. If you've ever sat in a pool of NYC sportswriters who are constantly trying to find some reason to blame the org you would be hard-pressed to figure the org personality wasn't shaped by the market.

In the instant case, you have a new school GM who is clear about trying to find market inbalances and sees a chance to get a former top prospect with an MLB record for a prospect who he thinks might never hit and who looks more like a football player. It's clear DiPo likes athletic baseball players. It's also clear that Marco is a baseball player's player. Not getting to far into the clouds but make-up wise he reminds me of Maddux. A tough, ultra-confident guy who believes he's better than everybody. Sometimes guys like that are right!

Here's where I think you're right, however. A guy like Archer is clearly a goofball. He'd get ripped to shreds in NYC, maybe even LA. In Seattle, he'd be just another goofball, even charming and well-rounded. If Portland ever gets a team I expect him to be their ace and he'll spend his free agent money on a a pinot winery and a pickle company. 

I think Archer's a project right now, though, and don't think he would instantly turn around in a new market. 

12

Having lived a bunch of places, including 1/2 way between NY and Boston (Groton, CT,). I tend to see a BIG difference between the media there and in LA or SF Bay Area compared to the NW. And after the experiences with players like Milton Bradley and Chone Figgins, the emphasis Dipoto seems to,be putting on guys that would fit with Edgar, Junior, Jay, and Dan in this new iteration is, to me, bringing back the NW flavor to this team. 

I'm a bit more sanguine about Chris Archer turning it around. Contending, a good clubhouse where he is one of the guys, and a lineup that can cover for lapses could accelerate a turn-around. Remember when Randy left and went, what, 18-2 in what was for him a better place?

13
Steeeves's picture

Long time lurker here.  Have always treasured the discussion and will do my best to uphold my end of the bargain to support you Doc.  Been a long time since baseball has been this fun. 

14

I am worried that we are using up our Mariners luck up this year.  This season is eerily similar to the 2001 season.  

Use your same 5 starters all year long with breakout performances by everyone.  Check.

Win a lot.  Check.

Hit a lot of home runs.  Check.

I'm so used to Mariner tragedy that the team seems too quiet right now.  We haven't heard the words "left the game with mild shoulder discomfort" or precautionary measure" or anything like that for some time.

P.S. Welcome back Doc.  

15

...but I can't help but think it too. Long-time M's fans are conditioned to expect disappointment. 

16
BrianG's picture

Was going to comment that at least we don't have Aaron Sele in the rotation...but I looked and he wasn't actually bad in 2001. My memory is skewed from the trauma of him pitching that last terrible game against the Yankees.

17
tjm's picture

Doc, if you thought the Marco mix-up was a flame war you haven't been getting out enough. Maybe you're still feeling the effects of doing a Louganis down the staircase.

18

Only a "flame war" by SSI standards.  ;- )  We feel no pain, baby.  Good wooden horse for Dr. D to ride around the living room, though, ain't it?

19
tjm's picture

. . . in which Felix is quoted thusly: "I'm a little different now. I'm 91-92, but I have a lot of weapons to go with it."

In other words, you gonna believe me or your lyin' eyes? Would that it were 92! This is denial at its deepest

20
BrianG's picture

Can you link to it?

22

The reason his average fastball velocity is like 89 is statcast is having trouble differentiating between his four-seam and two-seam fastballs and his hard change/sinker. They all have armside run and the differences in vertical movement are not as large as you'd think...the sinker is 87-89, the two seam pitch is 90 or so and the four-seam fastball is 91-92 when he's fresh.

23

Was what he told Shannon Drayer in ST in 2017 :- )

Your point is clear.  It's the nature of the problemo here.

24
Big Erm's picture

I haven’t commented here before, but am doing so now to thank you all for the great reads (including the comments). Hands down my favorite place to get my Mariners fix! 

Cheers

25
sumodave's picture

Marco, Haniger, Healy, Segura, Gordon, Leake

They're not Severino, Stanton, Judge, Sanchez, etc but they're our guys and they're good.

And beyond that, a larger number of them are young and cost-controlled. 

What reality is this that the M's could maybe be a good baseball team for the next handful of years??

26
tjm's picture

He might touch 92. He doesn't sit there. And are you sure he has both a two-seamer and a sinker? I pretty sure they're the same pitch.

In any event, I just found the Crasnick piece silly in that it credited Felix with a complete transformation. I wish. More importantly, as has been noted often here, velocity isn't his real problem. It's inability to consistently control any of them.

27

And I think Zunino only calls for one pitch...it's just that Felix tinkers with it by feel.

The regular two seam fastball runs armside like fourteen inches and rises like three inches, and is thrown harder. The sinker runs like ten to twelve inches armside and rises either not at all or even sinks slightly and is thrown softer. Both from the same grip.

29
The Neophyte's picture

I am doing my part to add a stone to the soup.  I'm not the student of the game that many of you are, but enjoy reading the expert insights and analyses here.  The one thing that I was wondering the last time I watched Felix pitch is that he seems to have toned down the twist quite a bit from years past.  Is it just me or has he eliminated or mostly eliminated that?

30

I've been noting that, too, Neophyte. He doesn't pause and balance like he originally was doing after he adopted it, and he seems to periodically rush it and pull his pitches over into the LH batter's box rather than going straight down the slope from his balance point. Maybe if he could just be patient with himself and not push for the extra MPH? His pitching from the balanced twist used to give him great deception as well as, it seems to me, better command (which is why, at the time, folks said he adopted it from Bedard - to get the Ks with less total pitches).

31

At D-O-V they pointed out that comments can be caught in the hopper too long.  Point taken, but I approve them the next time I sit down at the 'puter, so will try to be brisk.

25 comments ... on a Saturday.  Mighty neighborly of yer.

32

But our results versus NYY and BOS concerns me, let alone HOU; 2001 still grinds my gears but i'm trying to stay positive. It's fun to beat up the "lesser" teams, sooner or later the fat lady needs to sing and we'll need to beat the best to win it all. This team still needs to prove it can beat the best.

P.S.

The skittles strawberry freeze is way better than the watermelon freeze

33

SeattleNative57,

I'm right there with ya. If we group the top AL teams the Mariners seem so far to be a significant notch below HouNYYBos. 

As a well-trained Mariners fan, I am not expecting Seattle to beat any of those teams in a multi-game playoff round. It's possible they could sneak past a one-game playoff. I am prepared to accept a simple playoff appearance this year, and consider anything more to be gravy. It would be sad to see this team, with all it's accomplishments relative to Mariners' history, play in only a single postseason game. It would be gratifying to see them reach the first round and give either the Yankees or the Red Sox a competitive series. 

That said, as a former Dodgers fan I remember 1988, when the mighty, seemingly unbeatable A's were taken down in the World Series by an LA team that was only moderately good. Sometimes mojo trumps talent for one season. We can hope this is one of those years.

As of today we're back to 1.5 games behind the Astros. Dare we dream of an improbable division title? It's hard to believe with their pitching Houston will suffer a significant slump. But they might cool off. We would have to keep up the incredible pace we've set over the last couple of months.

One thing about it, while it lasts it's fun.

Re: freezes, I did a little research, and apparently you sometimes swing through Taco Bell. I remember the day when our three kids were little we could feed the whole brood for seven dollars and change. Long live Taco Bell.

34

Appreciate the feedback, DaddyO.  Ironically, LAD are my next fave MLB team.  As an M's lifer it is necessary to have a backup for enjoyment-sake.  I share your playoff sentiment and am hoping we get into any playoff scenario, one game or more.  I'll continue to root until I can root no more.  Being eliminated is all too familiar.   Much love!

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