The Mariners kick off their first home series of the year against Texas’ junior varsity team, the Houston Astros. I introduced NASORB to the Astros during the offseason, and before that, I knew about as many current Astros players as you. Biggio. Bagwell. Berkman. Pence? Shit.
If you want to check out Houston’s current lineup, take the lineup that I posted in that article, and then replace the Astros’ best hitter, Jed Lowrie, with a platoon of Marwin Gonzalez and Ronny Cedeno. I’m not sure whether to start analyzing that statement from the perspective that Lowrie was the Astros’ most valuable hitter in 2012, or that Cedeno is occasionally hitting second in the order for a real live Major League Baseball team. However you slice it up, the Astros are bad, and the Mariners could really use a lot of wins against the Astros this season. Tonight would be the best night get started.
Hey, remember that perfect game I threw? Yeah, me neither.
In the opener this evening, Joe Saunders takes on Phillip Humber. You might remember Humber, as he did this to us last season, but Humber is not your run-of-the-mill perfect game pitcher. What I mean is that, unlike many perfect game hurlers, Humber is not good at pitching. After his perfect game in April, Humber was allowed to start just 14 more games before demotion to the bullpen. In those 14 starts, Humber pitched 74 innings and allowed 19 homeruns (2.32 HR/9). That’s more per nine innings than Hector Noesi, who allowed 21 ding dongs in 107 innings (1.77 HR/9). Humber also posted a 7.21 ERA and 1.57 K/BB ratio, both worse than Noesi. The M’s turned Humber into a one hit wonder on April 21, 2012. Don’t expect that again.
Mariners win probability: 65%.
Tuesday’s night matchup features Seattle’s Brandon Maurer going up against the former Mariner, Erik Bedard. Mauer’s 25 strikeouts in 24 Spring Training innings were quickly forgotten when he punched out just one Athletic last week in six innings. If we go back to his spring start against the Giants on March 19th, the most recent start that PITCHf/x captured, maybe we can figure out what happened against the A’s.
I noticed is that Maurer’s changeup was not as effective in his last start. Against the Giants during Spring Training, his changeup “dropped” four more inches than his four-seamer and induced three whiffs. Against the A’s last Thursday, he threw his changeup about half as often, and it only “dropped” about two inches more than his four-seamer. A two-inch different can mean a lot.
It seems like maybe he lost confidence in that changeup, and here’s the clincher. Of the 13 two-strike pitches Maurer threw against the Giants, five were changeups. Of those five two-strike changeups, two induced swinging strikeouts and one induced a looking strikeout. Three strikeouts in total. However, against the A’s last week, Maurer threw 14 two-strike pitches, and yet did not throw a single changeup. It would appear as though a little confidence in his changeup could go a long way for Maurer.
In other news, Erik Bedard is not very good anymore, and he takes a long time to pitch.
Mariners win probability: 55%.
Perhaps Mr. Peacock is not smiling because he was traded to the Astros.
In the final matchup on Wednesday, the Astro’s Brad Peacock takes on the M’s Blake Beavan. During his times in the high minors, Peacock showed an ability to strike batters out (9.7 K/9), but also struggled with walks (3.8 BB/9). Beavan, on the other hand, has the opposite problem. He strikes out too few, but maintains a healthy walk rate.
Peacock has pitched a very strange 16 innings in the majors. He has walked nine, struck out nine, and managed to somehow only allow two runs. This comes from a small sample size and means very little, other than suggesting, perhaps, that his control is still a little loco.
Mariners win probability: 60%.
The Astros strike out a lot. Like, a lot a lot. The Braves have two Uptons in one lineup, and yet Houston still blows them away with a 36.1% strikeout rate. As a team, the Astros are striking out more often than Mark Reynolds ever has. This bodes well for the youthful Maurer and Beavan, who could use a little extra work on striking guys out during the regular season.