(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (68-58) finish their nine-game road trip with three in Boston against a team in the Red Sox that have under-achieved based on pre-season expectations.
Seattle dropped two of three in Philadelphia but did win two of three in Detroit, so the club is .500 on the swing, still with a shot at a very successful trek to the east.
The Red Sox traded away Jake Peavy, Stephen Drew, Jon Lester, Andrew Miller and John Lackey, but acquired Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Kelly gets the nod Friday night.
David Ortiz is hitting for power — 30 homers, .523 slugging percentage — and while his average is just .263 he still is getting on base (.355). Mike Napoli has had a solid year as have both Brock Holt and Daniel Nava but Dustin Pedroia has not hit for power and club has had a heck of a time getting production from their outfielders prior to the trade deadline.
There’s not much starting pitching left outside Clay Buchholz — who will not pitch in this series — but the bullpen remained in tact outside Miller being sent to Baltimore. Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have been very good all year so if Boston can bridge a lead through seven innings it’s usually a victory.
The Angels just swept the Red Sox who now have dropped five straight and are 56-71 on the year.
Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Friday: Felix Hernandez, RHP vs. Joe Kelly, RHP
Hernandez is coming off a sub par outing of five innings and two earned runs but he’ll be pitching on five full days rest again and generally handles the current Red Sox lineup, including earlier this season at Safeco.
King Felix has fared well at Fenway, too, sporting a 3-1 record with a 2.36 ERA in seven starts.
Hernandez Splits (big-leagues):
LHB: .196/.240/.259, 2 HR
RHB: .193/.228/.309, 6 HR
Home: 1.96 ERA, 5 HR, .182 BAA
Road: 2.03 ERA, 3 HR, .208 BAA
Hernandez vs. Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts: 0-3, SO
Jackie Bradley, Jr.: 0-3
Yoenis Cespedes: 6-30, 2B, 10 SO
Brock Holt: 1-8, BB, SO
Kelly Johnson: 2-5, 2 SO
Will Middlebrooks: 0-4, 2 SO
Mike Napoli: 8-39 (.205), 3-2B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 14 SO
Daniel Nava: 4-17, 2B, 4 SO
David Ortiz: 11-34 (.324), 2B, 5 BB, 7 SO
Dustin Pedroia: 12-40 (.300), 2B, HR, 4 BB, 6 SO
David Ross 0-4, SO
Scouting Joe Kelly
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 (91-96 mph): 60
Two-seam Fastball (91-95): 55
Slider (84-87): 45
Curveball (77-80): 50
Changeup (83-86): 40
LHB: .306/.405/.417, 2 HR
RHB: .247/.301/.409, 3 HR
Home: 4.24 ERA, 2 HR, .266 BAA
Away: 4.89 ERA, 3 HR, .285 BAA
Logan Morrison is the only current Mariners batter that has faced Kelly — he’s 2-for-5 with a home run off the 26-year-old right-hander — and that foreign element generally favors pitchers.
Kelly can get to triple digits with his fastball in relief but as a starter he’ll still get to 97 while living in the 93-96 mph range. Everything he throws is hard, including his curveball and changeup.
Despite bvelow average control Kelly stays away from the long ball by keeping his fastball down, using his sinking two-seamer to induce ground balls and mixing in hi curveball and changeup with two strikes. He’s not missing bats in a starting role yet but the raw stuff is there to do so and if the Mariners chase his heater up in the zone it could be a long day for Seattle.
When he’s on, Kelly’s fastball-slider combo can be all he needs.
Saturday: Chris Young, RHP vs. Brandon Workman, RHP
Young has not thrown more innings than he has in 2014 since way back in 2007 when he managed to reach the 173-inning mark. His career high is the 179 1/3 he threw in 2006 suggesting there’s a good chance he’ll set a new mark before the season concludes.
Young’s four-seam fastball has fallen a tick on the radar gun since he averaged nearly 87 mph in May. He’s sitting at 85.5 mph in August after an 85.8 in July and 86.4 in June. The separation between his fastball and changeup remains around 6.5 mph and simply put his slider has been light years better in terms of location.
But the pitch that’s moving more than it has all year is the changeup. The pitch fading more away from left-handed batters without losing any of its sink.
For the year, lefties have batted .248/.319/.439 off Young
but since early July he’s been fastball-slider versus lefty bats, occasionally showing the changeup out of the zone, then burying the slider under the hands and down toward the back foot to get swings and misses.
He’s not dominating, but he continues to induce weak contact and just enough strikeout to combat a few bases on balls and the higher-than-ideal long ball rate.
That slider has helped him torture right-handed batters all season, too. He’ll throw 86 mph four-seamers downhill at the knees or below, climb the ladder to change the eye level — and occasionally get a swing-and-miss — then finish them off with either the slider breaking away from the batter or another fastball up and out of the zone.
LHB: .248/.319/.439, 11 HR
RHB: .176/.229/.326, 8 HR
Home: 2.35 ERA, 6 HR, .185 BAA
Road: 3.93 ERA, 13 HR, .253 BAA
Young vs. Red Sox
Cespedes: 0-6, BB, SO
Johnson: 2-11, 3 SO
Ortiz: 1-5, HR, 3 BB, 3 SO
Pedroia: 0-2, BB
Ross: 1-3, HR, BB, SO
Scouting Brandon Workman
Four-seam Fastball (89-93 mph): 50
Two-seam Fastball (89-92): 50
Cutter (86-88): 55
Curveball (75-78): 60
Changeup (84-86: 55
Workman vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 1-1, 2B
Robinson Cano: 0-1
Brad Miller: 0-4
Austin Jackson: 0-1
Kendrys Morales: 3-4, 2B
Kyle Seager: 2-4
LHB: .243/.325/.392, 5 HR
RHB: .220/.277/.385, 4 HR
Home: 4.05 ERA, 4 HR, .238 BAA
Road: 4.55 ERA, 5 HR, .227 BAA
Workman will be making start No. 12 of 2014 to go with four relief appearances. He’s been inconsistent with his five-pitch arsenal that includes an average fastball, a solid-average cutter and a changeup that flashes plus at times.
At 6-foot-5 Workman can generate some downhill plane to compliment the natural deception in his delivery. His arm path is long but his arm speed is consistent. His curveball has sharp, late break and when he finishes through release it’s a plus pitch that will generate swings and misses.
Such an arm path can be troublesome, however, generally in terms of control and command and Workman falls into that category. He will catch too much of the plate with a low-90s fastball or nibble too much and get into trouble with the base on balls.
Forcing him to throw strikes consistently is the best way to beat him as he’ll struggle to throw anything but the four-seamer for strikes and that pitch is far from his best.
Sunday: Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP vs. TBA
Iwakuma was terrific last time out, striking out 11 Phillies batters over eight shutout innings. The right-hander has not allowed more baserunners than innings pitched since July 1 and is pushing hard for American League Pitcher of the Month having allowed two earned runs in 29 1/3 innings thus far.
Iwakuma’s fix versus left-handed batters since July 1 has been more four-seam fastballs and splitters and more effectively located sinkers. Lefties batted over .500 with six extra-base hits in 55 at-bats off Iwakuma’s sinker through his final June start, but have just 19 hits in 86 at-bats off the pitch since, with just four extra-base hits.
The key, though, has been the four-seamer, which always has late life up in the zone and gets late swings due to all the sub-85 mph stuff he can offer and get over for strikes.
The Red Sox have tagged Iwakuma in his career and beat him 5-4 at Safeco in June when the right-hander lasted just four innings and yielded five earned runs on eight hits. A number of the current Red Sox batters have a strong track record against Iwakuma, and they’ve since added Iwakuma’s all-time nemesis in Cespedes.
No batter has owned Iwakuma like Cespedes, including Adrian Beltre, who is 10-for-28 off him with three homers. Cespedes, while with Oakland, has eight hits in 22 at-bats and of those eight hits, seven are for extra bases.
LHB: .262/.272/.375, 9 HR
RHB: .194/.218/.298, 7 HR
Home: 2.66 ERA, 9 HR, .228 BAA
Road: 2.45 ERA, 5 HR, .236 BAA
Iwakuma vs. Red Sox
Bradley, Jr.: 1-4, 2B, SO
Cespedes: 8-22 (.364), 4-2B, 3 HR, 6 SO
Holt: 3-7, 2B
Johnson: 2-4, 2B, SO
Napoli: 1-4, HR, BB, SO
Nava: 2-5, SO
Ortiz: 4-7, 2B, 2 HR, 2 SO
Pedroia: 3-7, HR, BB
The Red Sox entered the series without having named a starter for Sunday, but it’s Allen Webster’s turn in the rotation. If he gets the start the Mariners will be facing a right-hander with plus velocity into the mid-90s, but below average control and command.
Webster also offers a slider and changeup, both sitting in the 83-85 mph range. The slider remains below average but the changeup is a valuable offering, particularly when he gets ahead of left-handed batters.
Notebook | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Earlier this week SportsPressNW.com’s Steve Rudman penned a piece on the historic run the Seattle Mariners pitching staff is on in terms of batting average allowed. Rudman writes that the M’s have the lowest batting average against since the 1966 Dodgers at .225. The first thought that may come to mind for many is that the club greatly benefits from Safeco Field, which is true. But the M’s staff is holding road opponents to a .232 batting average, with would rank No. 2 since 1966 behind those Dodgers and the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays.
I took it a step further, yet. The M’s pitching staff has allowed a .279 opponents on-base percentage entering play Friday. That mark, if it holds through the end of the year, would be the lowest since the 1988 Mets posted a .266 mark behind the likes of Doc Gooden, David Cone, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling and a very deep bullpen.
Elsewhere this weekend in relation to the American League West and Wild Card hunts, the Los Angeles Angels play three in Oakland versus a struggling A’s club that now sits in second place, six games ahead of the Mariners. The New York Yankees (4 GB / WC2) are home for three against the Chicago White Sox while the Cleveland Indians (4.5 GB / WC2) open a series at home versus the pesky Houston Astros, who just took two of three from the Yankees.
Tampa Bay has fallen to seven games off the pace for the No. 2 Wild Card spot, but beat Detroit and former Rays ace David Price Thursday and are in Toronto to face a Blue Jays club still is hanging around at four games off the pace.
Kansas City leads the American League Central but still remain a factor in WC2 matters as they lead the Tigers by just a game in the loss column. The Royals are in Texas to face the Rangers while the Tigers head to Minnesota.
Key Stats | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Felix Hernandez enters Friday’s start with a .280 slugging percentage against, which amazingly ranks No. 2 in the American League behind Garrett Richards. No American League starter has finished that low since Pedro Martinez’s incredible 2000 season when he posted a preposterous .259 slugging percentage against … Hernandez also has allowed a league-leading .235 on-base percentage against — Iwakuma is No. 2 in the AL at .247. Felix’s mark is the lowest since Martinez’s .213 OBP-A in 2000 and the second-lowest since 1972 when Roger “Spider” Nelson posted a .234 mark for the Royals. If Felix gets his under .232 he’ll own the second-best OBP-A mark in the American League since 1913 when Walter Johnson himself rolled out a .217. Walter Freaking Johnson, 101 years ago when not only were there no designated hitters, but the league leader in home runs had 59 — that’s team leader in home runs. The last National League pitcher to post an OBP-A of below .232 was 1995 when Greg Maddux put up a .224 mark.
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