Braves at Mariners: Series Preview
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(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (57-54) start a 10-game homestand aftera 3-3 trip to Cleveland and Baltimore. The club suffered more offensive struggles, which is odd only that the games were played away from Safeco Field where the Mariners are about league average at the plate.
The Atlanta Braves (58-54) come in on a six-game losing streak leading to a three-game deficit in the National League East. They’re offensively challenged in their own right and are third in the senior circuit in strikeouts and fourth in strikeout rate. They pitch well and play terrific team defense, however, led by shortstop Andrelton Simmons and right fielder Jason Heyward.
The Braves have a solid bullpen led by the game’s best closer, Craig Kimbrel. The club’s middle relivers are the underbelly, so getting the pitch count up and forcing the Braves to go to the bullpen before the seventh inning in this short series could determine the winner in each contest.
Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Tuesday: Felix Hernandez, RHP vs. Alex Wood, LHP
Hernandez is going for start No. 15 in a row of at least seven frames and two runs or less. More importantly, he’s shooting for win No. 12 as he won just once since June 29.
The last start in which Hernandez surrendered more hits than innings pitched was June 2 at New York, a game he won 10-2.
Hernandez vs. Braves
Emilio Bonifacio: 1-8, 2B, 4 SO
Ryan Doumit: 1-12, BB, 9 SO
Freddie Freeman: 3-4
Jason Heyward: 1-3, BB, SO
Gerald Laird: 6-20, 2B, 3 BB, 6 SO
Ramiro Pena: 0-6, BB, 3 SO
B.J. Upton:Ca 3-31 (.097), 2B, BB, 11 SO
Justin Upton: 1-3, BB
Hernandez Splits (big-leagues):
LHB: .198/.243/.265, 2 HR
RHB: .192/.229/.296, 4 HR
Home: 2.09 ERA, 4 HR, .190 BAA
Road: 1.94 ERA, 2 HR, .200 BAA
Scouting Alex Wood
Grades reflect 20-80 scouting scale; 80 is outstanding, among league’s best, 50 is major-league average, 20 is poor, not in line with big-league standards.
Four-seam Fastball (89-94 mph): 60
Curveball (78-81: 60
Changeup (82-85) : 40
Wood vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 1-1
Brad Miller: 0-1, SO
Endy Chavez: 0-1
Kyle Seager: 0-1
Chris Denorfia: 3-3
Logan Morrison: 0-2, BB, SO
LHB: .276/.323/.388, 2 HR
RHB: .253/.301/.381, 9 HR
Home: 3.00 ERA, 6 HR, .263 BAA
Away: 3.56 ERA, 5 HR, .257 BAA
Wood has made 11 relief appearances on top of 14 starts entering Tuesday’s series opener. His fastball sits 89-91 mph but there are games when he’s 91-93 touching 94 and his delivery adds deception and explosiveness to the pitch.
His curveball is a true out pitch when he finishes out front and sets it up well with a located four-seamer. The changeup is below average but he throws it a lot and occasionally it’s effective when he keeps it down in the zone.
Command is his main hurdle as he’s yielded 11 home runs in 1-3 2/3 innings but generally forces the hitter to swing the bat.
Saturday: Chris Young, RHP vs. Julio Teheran, RHP
Young struggled a bit with his command last time out, surrendering four earned runs on seven hits — including a home run — in 5 1/3 innings at Cleveland. He fanned just one batter and walked two and was pulled in the sixth after 100 pitches.
He’s bounced back after each rough start in 2014 and Wednesday should be no different. Key for Young has been the command of his slider, which helped the veteran punch out 32 batters in 38 1/3 innings in six July starts.
LHB: .244/.318/.451, 11 HR
RHB: .184/.239/.343, 8 HR
Home: 2.21 ERA, 6 HR, .179 BAA
Road: 4.33 ERA, 13 HR, 260 BAA
Scouting Julio Teheran
Four-seam Fastball (90-94 mph): 60
Two-seam Fastball (88-90): 55
Slider (80-83): 55
Curveball (72-75): 50
Changeup (80-83: 45
Teheran has never faced Seattle but first baseman Logan Morrison faced him while with the Marlins and collected four hits in 10 at-bats, including a double, three walks and two strikeouts.
LHB: .222/.271/.358, 9 HR
RHB: .228/.271/.333, 7 HR
Home: 1.48 ERA, 8 HR, .191 BAA
Road: 3.91 ERA, 8 HR, .257 VAA
Teheran, 23, has been very good in his second full season but he’s been lights out at home and merely solid on the road. He’ll pick his spots to reach back for 95 on the four-seam fastball and both breaking balls can be out pitches. He throws a ton of sliders, at times varying its velocity, and uses a two-seamer to offset the sliders.
The right-hander pounds the strike zone and when stays down and throws strikes with his secondary stuff, he’s as good a right-hander as there is in the National League.
Sandmeyer Says | Steve Sandmeyer, 1090 The Fan
The Mariners are matched up against a near mirror image of themselves from the National League. Atlanta has lost six straight and has scored only nine runs total in their past five games. Each club has scored only 421 runs this season which is especially damning to the Mariner considering the Braves only get to use the DH in interleague play.
I hope fans aren’t taking for granted the fact that Hernandez is making baseball history. To put it into perspective, so far this season, there is a legitimate argument that Felix is performing twice as well as he did in his 2010 Cy Young season. It’s amazing that the team is only 10-4 during his streak of 14 straight starts of seven or more inning and two or fewer runs allowed. And even more amazing that the right-hander himself is just 7-2 with five no-decisions.
This homestand will go a long way in determining whether or not the M’s are relevant in the Wild Card chase a week and a half from now.
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