M's vs Oakland - Pregame Detect-O-Vision Scan


=== Brandon McCarthy ===

Famously used sabermetrics to reinvent his game, spending 2010 in the minors, and then coming out the other side as one of the AL's elite starting pitchers.

  • OLD McCARTHY:  Used a stereotype 3-pitch mix, FB-Change-Overhand Curve, to throw lots of fly balls and run 4.70 ERA's.
  • NEW McCARTHY:  Throws 40% fadeaway fastballs, 40% biting cutters, and 20% curves, to get tons of grounders and a 1+ walk rate.

Think Doug Fister, but maybe even better.  McCarthy was one of the league's 10 best pitchers in 2012, and his second half provided even bigger gains.  If you double his second half, you get:

  • 16-8, 3.15 ERA, 144 strikeouts, 26 walks

For the whole year, he actually led the American League in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), better than Felix, better than Verlander, better than anybody.  McCarthy goes into the game as a legit Opening Day starter for any team.


He doesn't overwhelm you - he had only 4 starts last year with 8 or more strikeouts - but he can completely dominate with sawed-off ground balls, half-a-dozen K's, and absolutely no walks or home runs.  Again, think Doug Fister or Orel Hershiser.

As you're watching the game, check to see whether the M's lefties can deal with his hard-biting cut fastball.  If he is sawing off the handles on Carp, Ackley et al, the M's may need to win 2-1.  The "under" scoring bet has been 4-0 in the last four McCarthy-Mariner matchups.


=== Felix ===

Last spring training game, he had a pretty scary velo scatter chart.  Not just that he topped at 91, but also that his offspeed pitches bottomed (usually) at 86.  If he comes out the first inning and throws his patented 94 mph located, and in the second inning throws some of those dry-spitball changeups, I'll relax a lot.

The M's are 14-3 in Felix' last seventeen starts vs. Oakland.  Remember how the very mention of Mike Mussina used to send us screaming into the night?  That's how Felix starts feel to the A's.  Normally.


=== Various and Sundry, Dept. ===

Chone Figgins drew lots of walks in ST and had a .371 OBP.  He had one game leadoff in 2011, and swung the bat with enthusiasm.  I'll be watching to see if he accelerates the bathead and looks like he's having fun out there.

Mike Carp needs only to dial the EYE back up to 0.40 to become a minor star in the big leagues; his average HR was 413 feet last year.  This guy can hit tape-measure shots now, but he'll consolidate those gains if he can do so while keeping a reasonable EYE.  In spring training, he did not, walking 2 times vs. 13 strikeouts.  I'll scope out his swinging strikes, especially outside the zone.

Michael Saunders' best swings came when he did NOT clear the hips through and did NOT follow through in a blossomy way - the 60-oz bat swing.  We want to see the same swing.

Justin Smoak would do well to let the ball drive deep into the zone, get a good look, and then hit it hard up the middle and the other way.  He doesn't have to do that every game, but one thing is clear:  left hand, his timing is the key.  Lefthanded, he gets greedy and gets too far out in front.

Brendan Ryan, we'll get to enjoy that newfound play-from-the-hole insight that we have, courtesy of John Dewan.  Maybe Ryan will kill an inning with that play tonight.  If so, we are fully entitled to bask in his glory.

Ackley and Montero, we've noticed this week that everybody is ga-ga over those two.  All the pundits on Prospect Insider are calling 30 homers, Pro Ball NW is doing an Adrian Beltre happy-feet dance in jittery need for him to excel, and the national talking heads are calling Rookie of the Year, with gusto.  Nuff said 'round the block, without me piling on.  Montero's inside-out swing is well suited to dealing with McCarthy's groundball game.

The M's defense, says John Dewan, is the #2 defense among 30 teams.  The A's are not known for their gloves.  Wonder if this will play in.  It's not impossible to beat Oakland, right?  Very often a difference in glovework is a contributing factor in their losses.  They were #25 in team UZR last season.

Ichiro will not be slapping the ball into the shortstop hole and tearing out of the box at 60 mph; he'll actually be trying to do major damage with his bat.  He always said he could hit 20-40 home runs if he wanted to.  Let's see him cut loose with some big swings in front of the starry-eyed mobs.


Dr D


ghost's picture

Ichiro immediately pepper swings to slap the ball up the middle and beats out an infield hit.  LOL
Felix looked very hittable in the first...I am concerned.

ghost's picture

Felix looked WAY better in the second...throwing noticably harder and more movement on his offspeed.  Got some real garbage swings from Cespedes.
Alright...big smiles, kiddies...he's still an ace. :)

ghost's picture

What are you doing running on a ground ball that deep in the five hole?  Ryan was a dead duck because Figgins forgot that he's supposed to PROTECT THE RUNNER...weren't you a lead-off hitter at some point, Chone?


we don't need to be concerned about Felix. He's throwing a TERRIFIC game. He keeps allowing leadoff hits, doubles even, and then pitching out of trouble.
He just pitched a successful 8th. Hope we can get him a win.

ghost's picture

The really scary thing is that we were in synch at 3 (for you) or 6 (for me) in the morning. :)
I cannot tell you how annoyed I was in the third.  McCarthy pitched a whale of a game and Ackley's HR in the fourth would have been a three run jack...UGH.  I also thought Felix looked noticeably better in the second through 6th and then strated elevating his off-speed pitches and making me nervous late as you described.
Overall, I thought our offense was tolerable...and better than last year...but they just didn't fall in like they should have for Smoak and Montero (who made a lot of first/second pitch outs, but they were pitches you want to see him swing at).  I would definitely agree that Carp looked LOUSY at the plate today.  That was mildly concerning...here's hoping he was just amped up for the opener and will calm down now.

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