Hill Duels, Prevails Over Walker

Taijuan Walker had another outing where he cruised for several innings, and struggled later in the game. Walker gave up three runs on the day, only one of them earned, thanks to two crummy Chris Taylor errors.

For most of the day, Walker looked pretty solid. He was aggressive with his fastball and his secondary pitches looked better than they have on other nights. One thing that may have hinted towards Vogt’s solo homer was the amount of outs Walker was getting due to long fly outs.

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The Mariners continued their struggles scoring at home. A noteworthy adjustment to the lineup was Leonys Martin, formerly occupying the nine hole, led off. Nori Aoki was moved down to the eighth batting spot. I personally have mixed feelings about the move. I’m generally not of the school of thought of “riding the hot hand.” If Scott Servais and the rest of the staff feel that Leonys Martin’s current success is a sustainable development, then I support the move. If Servais is simply moving Martin up to the top of the lineup because he’s hit well lately, I think it’s a pretty meh decision.

There’s not much from Martin’s past that supports the notion that he can sustain this productivity. However, his peripherals show that maybe his claims that Edgar, Cano, and Cruz helped fix his swing are true. His peripherals give off mixed signals. His BABIP is currently resting at a healthy .315. This is close enough to average.

Although somewhat of a small sample size, Martin’s PITCHf/x plate discipline numbers are interesting. Martin is swinging at less pitches outside of the zone, more pitches in the zone, and as a result, swinging at about the same number of pitches. The disconnect is in his contact rates. Martin is making the same amount of contact with outside pitches as he normally does, but his contact ratings in the zone are about 11% below his career rates. That’s a significant amount. His overall contact rate is also down around 7%.

What conclusion does that lead us to? Maybe Martin is picking better pitches to swing at, and swinging harder. That would fit his peripherals. He’s walking at a rate 4% higher than his career average, and striking out at a rate about 6% above his career average. These are significant differences!

Martin is a fun player, but I don’t want to spend a whole game recap on him. Although he did have a nice game both offensively and defensively.

One of the biggest disappoints on the year, if not the biggest disappointment, is Nori Aoki. He had another day without a hit at the plate, bringing his season average to .229 and OPS to .608. These numbers are especially bad when you consider Aoki isn’t a great fielder.

If any player is going to be affected by BABIP, it’s Nori Aoki. But this may simply be a matter of declining at the age of 34.

The Mariners had nine hits on the day, two more than the Athletics, but could not do anything to piece those into runs. With the bases loaded, Iannetta, Aoki, and Taylor failed to do any damage.

Overall, the score is not indicative of how the Mariners played. Taylor airmailed two throws, and the Mariners happened to be at the bottom third of their lineup when the bases were juiced. But that’s baseball! Hats off to Rich Hill on a great outing. That hook is nasty.

Tomorrow, Kendall Graveman takes on Nathan Karns to try to tie up the series. This is a very favorable game for the Mariners, as Nathan Karns is arguably the best #5 pitcher in the league and Kendall Graveman is simply not very good.

Ketel Marte, we await your return…

Go M’s!

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