Blue Jays at Mariners: Series Preview
(1090 The Fan) — After winning three of four from the Chicago White Sox, the Seattle Mariners (62-55) start a three-gamer with the Toronto Blue Jays (63-56) a fellow Wild Card contender and one coming off a 19-inning win at home Sunday, a game in which they used eight relievers.
The Mariners beat up a bad White Sox pitching staff, their lone loss coming against Hector Noesi, but the Jays can hit and have power up and down their lineup. Seattle will have to score runs in this series to win. One or two per night won’t cut it.
Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Monday: Felix Hernandez, RHP vs. Drew Hutchison, RHP
Hernandez looks to extend his own record of consecutive starts with seven or more innings and two or fewer runs and will get that shot against a team in Toronto that has had some success against him, albeit not as much as the Angels and Indians, two clubs that King Felix has dominated in 2014.
Hernandez vs. Blue Jays
Jose Bautista: 5-17, HR, 4 BB, 4 SO
Melky Cabrera: 5-17, 2B, BB, 2 SO
Edwin Encarnacion: 3-18, 2B, HR, 5 SO
Juan Francisco: 1-3, 2B, SO
Anthony Gose: 1-2, 2B
Munenori Kawasaki: 1-3
Dioner Navarro: 3-14, 2-2B, BB, 3 SO
Colby Rasmus: 5-7, 2 BB, 2 SO
Jose Reyes: 3-5, HR
Josh Thole: 0-3, SO
Danny Valencia: 2-11, BB, 4 SO
Elias Splits (big-leagues):
LHB: .196/.241/.260, 2 HR
RHB: .190/.226/.293, 4 HR
Home: 2.01 ERA, 4 HR, .187 BAA
Road: 1.94 ERA, 2 HR, .200 BAA
Scouting Drew Hutchison
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 (91-95 mph): 60
Two-seam Fastball (90-93): 45
Slider (84-86): 50
Changeup (84-86) : 45
LHB: .264/.330/.457, 11 HR
RHB: .233/.286/.352, 4 HR
Home: 6.46 ERA, 10 HR, .264 BAA
Away: 3.27 ERA, 5 HR, .243 BAA
Hutchison vs. Mariners
Robinson Cano: 1-2, 2B, BB
Austin Jackson: 0-2
Kendrys Morales: 1-3, SO
Hutchison has been solid for most of the season but also has been up and down. He’s surrendered four or more earned runs in 10 of 23 starts but he’s been very good at times, looking the part of the No. 2 starter.
The 23-year-old right-hander went 8 2/3 last time out, holding the Orioles to one hit and one earned run — a solo homer by Chris Davis — while striking out eight and walking just one batter.
His fastball will touch the mid-90s but sit 91-94 mph, setting up a slider that flashes plus. With two strikes he will climb the ladder with the four-seamer, and early n counts will show a decent two-seam fastball to keep batters off balance.
When he has his changeup working it can be a strikeout pitch for him. Safeco will help HUtchison as he induces a lot of fly ball outs, many of which end up leaving the yard in Toronto.
Hutchison has been inconsistent from start to start but he’s been good more than he’s been bad. He threw 115 pitches five days ago, a season and career high.
Tuesday: Chris Young, RHP vs. J.A. Happ, LHP
Young has not pitched into the seventh inning in either of his past two starts but went six or seven in each of his previous five. He’s been missing more bats the past month or two, mostly due to a better slider.
Young has been terrific at Safeco Field this season but will be challenged by a very good Blue Jays lineup that has hit Young well in the past.
LHB: .252/.324/.453, 11 HR
RHB: .185/.238/.343, 8 HR
Home: 2.42 ERA, 6 HR, .191 BAA
Road: 4.33 ERA, 13 HR, .260 BAA
Young vs. Blue Jays
Bautista: 2-10, 2B, 2 BB, 5 SO
Cabrera: 3-3, 2B, 3B
Encarnacion: 0-1, BB
Francisco: 0-3, 3 SO
Navarro: 4-4, HR, 2 BB
Reyes: 3-19, 3B, HR, 2 BB, 4 SO
Scouting J.A. Happ
Fastball (92-94 mph): 60
Two-seam Fastball (91-94): 55
Curveball (76-79): 40
Changeup (84-86: 45
Happ vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 1-2, SO
Cano: 4-17, 2B, HR, 4 SO
Jackson: 1-4, 3 BB,
Brad Miller: 2-3
Morales: 2-5, 2B
Denorfia: 4-8, 2B, 2 HR, BB, SO
Logan Morrison: 3-9, 2B, BB, 2 SO
Kyle Seager: 1-3, SO
LHB: .224/.323/.424, 3 HR
RHB: .274/.330/.427, 9 HR
Home: 3.26 ERA, 8 HR, .250 BAA
Road: 5.16 ERA, 4 HR, .280 BAA
Happ brings solid-average stuff to the mound, starting with above-average velocity from the left side and deception created by a slightly below three-quarter arm slot. He’ll pitch all over the zone with the fastball, mixing in a two-seamer and setting up three decent offspeed pitches.
The changeup and slider are his best offerings but Happ goes to the curveball a little more, particularly versus right-handed batters.
Wednesday: Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP vs. R.A. iIckey, RHP
The right-hander has been strong since back-to-back un-Hisashi like outings at the end of June, allowing more than two earned runs just once since June 25 and issuing but three bases on ball in 228 batters faced.
The current Jays’ roster hasn’t hit Iwakuma much (13-for-77), though only two of their active hitters have more than nine plate appearances against him. If he stays away from the walk, per usual, there’s not much chance the Jays get to him for more than a run or two.
LHB: .278/.286/.402, 7 HR
RHB: .194/.220/.304, 7 HR
Home: 2.88 ERA, 9 HR, .230 BAA
Road: 2.82 ERA, 5 HR, .249 BAA
Scouting R.A. Dickey
Four-seam Fastball (80-82 mph): 40
Knuckleball (73-78): 60
Eephus (64-67): 45
Dickey vs. Mariners
Ackley: 2-6, HR, 3 SO
Endy Chavez: 0-6, 2 BB, SO
Chris Denorfia:2-5, 2B, BB, SO
Cano: 6-23, 2-2B, 2 BB, 2 SO
Jackson: 3-9, 2B, HR, 2 BB, 2 SO
Miller: 1-3, BB
Morales: 3-13, BB, SO
Morrison: 5-17, 2B, 2 BB, 5 SO
LHB: .233/.325/.363, 5 HR
RHB: ..247/.301/.450, 15 HR
Home: 4.17 ERA, 14 HR, .244 BAA
Road: 3.79 ERA, 6 HR, .238 BAA
Dickey is as unique as the knuckleball itself, and he throws the pitch 80 percent of the time. He’ll occasionally throw a fastball around 80 mph and every once in awhile he’ll toss up the famous Eephus pitch in the mid-60s.
Like many knuckleballers, the right-handed Dickey has more success versus left-handed batters than right, so it will be interesting to see which approach skipper Lloyd McClendon makes; the left-handed lineup with James Jones or Chavez in right field and Miller at shortstop or the right-handed one with Denorfia in right field and Chris Taylor at shortstop.
Sandmeyer Says | Steve Sandmeyer, 1090 The Fan
I’ll admit, I’m getting a chuckle out of the folks who are making this series some sort of showdown or attaching more importance than the following: a series against another team that happens to be in the chase for the second wildcard. Bottom line: all the series from here on out (or until the M’s perhaps fall out of contention) are important. Gaining ground on the Blue Jays specifically is less relevant. Staying within the Wild Card chase among four other teams is more relevant.
I love the pitching matchups in this series. Felix, Young, and ‘Kuma the next three nights. Young continues to be an incredibly compelling story. He was pretty much given up for dead –- and plucked off the Washington Nationals roster at the end of March. He has been nothing short of spectacular at home this season, flourishing as a fly ball pitcher in a spacious park. Sure, he doesn’t go all that deep into games or overpower opposing lineups on a regular basis –- but he keeps the M’s in the game just about every time out –- which is all that matters.
The M’s need Morales to hit –- and they need him to hit badly. I love the acquisitions of Jackson and Denorfia – coupled with a resurgent Ackley (who saw that coming?) — but until they get another productive member within the middle of the order, we’re likely to see an offense that sputters too much on a long term basis.
Finally, it’s important to enjoy the ride. This is not football. Don’t get caught up in every little up and down during the course of a game or series. There will be another game tomorrow and another series in a few days. There are still seven weeks left in the season. Wait until mid-September to hang on every moment. In the meantime, enjoy quality baseball that matters. There will be plenty of time a month from now to scoreboard watch and wring your hands –- and take it from me -– there is nothing better than the final couple weeks of a baseball season when each game truly counts.
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