Taijuan's Debut, IP 5-6 = Stephen Strasburg
Dr. D danced the futterwacken most vigorously


As Morrow ...  um, Taijuan .... labored through the first two innings, there were FANTABULOUS camera shots of Rick Waits conferring in the dugout with Willie Bloomquist.  That is some great work right there.  What a job by the cameraman and producer.

Taijuan came out in the 2nd and snapped off the curve ball.  Night and day.  

Like James said, if a curve (from the 50% point) breaks letters to knees, like Collin McHugh's always do, you're golden.  If you throw a curve that breaks from waist to knees during the last 30 feet, you are just begging for 425 feet to the pull field.  If you throw Taijuan's first-inning curve -- letters to belt -- then you could get somebody killed.  In the second deck :- )

But wow.  The 2nd inning was "Simplify.  Go with curve-fastball and FINISH that duece there, kid."  He did.  THAT, kiddies, is major league coaching.  

There is no telling how fast Taijuan can progress, with Rick Waits and Mike Zunino doing the "hover hand" in his pose shots.  You are the wind beneath my wings, Channing.


Walker was, from there, spotty with the curve.  Some bad ones, but also some wipeout curves.  Great fastball, spotty curve?  That will definitely work for us here at SSI.  Know why?

Because you can learn in the big leagues.  Well, not "you," of course.  

(In fairness to Blowers, that was also his instant reaction.  "Wow, this kid is not big-league ready by normal definitions, but he is so talented he's an exception."  It probably looked odd to see an MLB pitcher throw such ugly curves and changeups.)

That is where we are at with Taijuan.  Watching to see how fast he makes progress with SOME offspeed pitch or other.  You, the discerning SSI reader, are attending to little else in his starts.  Can he make batters wish they hadn't cheated fastball, can he PUNISH them for cheating fastball.


We're optimistic.  On the following grounds:

  • Confidence in Rick Waits and his team
  • Taijuan's track record of improvement and coachability
  • Taijuan's mental strength
  • Three good starts in 2013
  • He doesn't have to be great; the fastball and makeup alone allow him to defend himself


The 5th inning was gorgeous.  Taijuan fanned L.J. Hoes, and then hit Jose Altuve on the side of the elbow with a fastball.  Altuve, sadly, perished.  Doctors theorize that the shock transferred through the bones into the spinal cord.  Memorial services conducted tomorrow morning, to put it all in the past as quickly as possible.

One out, Taijuan fanned Alex Presley with a gorgeous changeup.  Presley was out in front and well over the ball, like he is supposed to be.

Two out, man on first, Taijuan fanned the Astros' young star George Springer on a Strasburg-like curve.  

Can you IMAGINE the effect of the fastball, once he has the curve and/or changeup in the batters' heads to any extent?   Like, curve followed by high fastball?  Or painted fastball, followed by changeup dropping out of the zone?  He won't need hair-fine command.  He just needs his offspeed to be convincing.


Examples could be multiplied.   Matters are simple, though:  he's Morrow, until he gets the hang of a curve and/or change, at which point he's a star.  Could be next year, could be next game.


Dr D





And on the radio side, Rizzs and Goldschmidt both immediately said something similar - when Walker got in a bit of trouble in the fifth falling behind hitters, Waits came out to talk to him...he threw two more balls...then Zunino and Cano came to the mound. "Can you imagine how reassuring it is as a kid to have that kind of support? The best catcher in the AL working you through the jams and finding ways to get guys out...and if you need something else, a guy like Cano there to calm you down and refocus you?"
Was a really cool moment. That lead to a big K and the end of an inning.
Just saying...if there was ever a place where a young pitcher COULD learn on the job...it is Seattle.


The personalities on this particular Mariners team are (importantly) really starting to come together in unexpected ways. There is a lot of talk about how the guys aren't just playing good ball...they believe in themselves and each other...they are becoming family.
Guys like Logan Morrison can only help. Morrison was in the on deck circle before his second trip to the plate when a little girl behind the Mariner on deck circle got his attention. She wanted a high five. Having been to a lot of baseball games in my life, even in the minor leagues, I can say I've never seen one willing to break concentration for a moment right before he's about to hit in the middle of the game, walk over there, and give a five year old kid a high five just to make someone happy. Rizzs thought it was just about the most adorable thing he'd ever seen. He's probably right.
Just saying,,,you don't see stuff like that very often...and I consider it a very good sign. Morrison is a laid back, fun-loving kid...keep him around...he's clubhouse lubricant.


Agreed, however Logan isn't the only one. My son and I made it to the game last night, one of the few times I can watch the Mariners live now that I live in South Texas. My son caught Brad Miller's attention pregame, and Brad came over to sign a ball for him. During those few moments, my son was able to tell Brad that his dad grew up in Seattle as an M's fan. Not sure what all was said, as I was still sitting in our seats. But I see Brad turn and call over Seager. Seager goes over, signs his ball and shakes his hand. Of course, big difference between pregame and in the on-deck circle, but I rarely see those guys call over teammates like that. Absolutely made my son's night.


I still don't think he's demonstrated to be an answer to Smoak, even for this season. Morrison OPSed .805 in June. OK, but Smoak OPSed .745 all of 2013 and 1.005 in September/October of 2012. The baseball world is buzzing about Springer's shot last night, but Smoak earlier this season, for all his lack of power, did the same thing. Eight oh Five is a nice June, but Smoak OPSed .888 last June, and followed that up with an .842 July - and these were after injury, which he is coming off of now.
Time will tell, and I am content with leaving LoDog at first for the next couple weeks. But Smoak can't be written off yet..I doubted it earlier, heck the last time I brought him up, I said he was ready to be a footnote in Mariner history. Buuuuut...right now....I do not think we have seen the last of Justin Smoak, regular first baseman for the Seattle Mariners. But he'd better put up some big Rainier numbers. BIG numbers.

tjm's picture

I absolutely hate the post-save shoot the arrow thing. If I was on the other team, I'd throw at the leadoff batter every next game. I gotta think it irritates his teammates, too. BUT, big but there, if he's going to be allowed to do it, it's a very good thing for a teammate to play along with it as Morrison does. It has to draw a wikd card like Rodney into the team and that's a good thing.
I still hate it, though.

GLS's picture

The arrow thing is stupid.


What stands out for me when comparing the Smoakamotive to the LoDog is that LoDog is a superior athlete by a substantial margin -- LoDog is faster, stronger, and more agile than the Smoaky one. Being a better athlete doesn't automatically make LoDog a superior baseball player, but it definitely give him a higher ceiling. LoDog can actually go from first to third on a single, and score from second base on a base hit -- contrast to Smoak, the ultimate clogger.
I also agree that LoDog looks like more of a gamer than the Smoakamotive, who seems to tense up and then over-swing in clutch situations. LoDog looks calmer, smoother, more composed. Credit where credit is due: the trade of Capps for LoDog is one of GMZ's best moves.
One more point: I love Rodney shooting off arrows -- I can't wait for him to do it in Game 7 of the World Series and make the cover of SI. Go M's.


Smoak is pretty productive when he's hot, but so is Morrison. I'll take the Morrison mojo. Always was a Doors fan.

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