HP ump is Nelson...one of the most extreme pitcher's umps in recent history...and he's living up to his legend tonight...4 Ks all looking for the Mariners...Nelson is calling a GIGANTIC zone.
Q. Where does Vargas stand, going into 2012?
A. Assuming that you go by the WAR paradigm, which uses theoretical ERA "should have beens" rather than actual ERA's ... he has posted WAR totals of 2.4 and 2.6 the last two seasons, totalling $21.0 million worth of on-field performance in 2010-11. His actual ERA's have been a little better than that.
Vargas was red-hot in September 2011, of course -- he started doing the Bedard Twist and he gained a good 1-2 mph out of it. It made a huge difference. In 31 September innings, he fanned 27 men and allowed only 1 homer. If only we could see another 7 IP and 6 K's tonight, picking up where he left off last season.
In fact, his last game of 2011 was a 10-strikeout detonation of the A's on Sept. 26.
Q. What's the basis of his success? In what pitcher family is he?
A. He's a soft tossing (low-K, low-BB) finesse lefty, not in the Tommy John groundball family, but in the flyball family.
He throws a lot of flyballs, but has a very low HR/F rate and a very low BABIP rate.
Q. The HR/F and BABIP rates are luck, or a skill?
A. Mike Fast showed that one starting pitcher might average 67 mph on his batted balls, and another average 75 mph - all season long. Here's our summary of that finding.
Three basic things I know of that consistently cause weak swings: a great change-speed game ... consistently precise location ... and great velocity. Jason Vargas is excellent at two of those things, weak at the other. The sum total seems to be in his favor. As with Jamie Moyer, batters just can't seem to plant the back foot and load up on Vargas' pitches.
Q. So, against Oakland?
A. M's fans are watching to see if Vargas can induce weak swings. If he can keep the A's from loading up and taking big cuts. Vargas vs. Cespides should be interesting :- )
Also, defenses should logically run a very high conversion rate behind him. Here is an SSI article, following on Mike Fast's demonstration that slower BIP's (as Vargas indeed can produce) mean better defenses.
Q. Looking for a 3-2 win?
A. Actually there is no urgency about the win, whatsoever. The M's are going to lose at least 70 and win at least 70. This will be 1 of 70+, if they lose...
Dr. D will be watching the boxer's scorecard -- the M's total bases against the A's total bases. Monday, they had a small but pleasant edge in bases gained and bases lost. (True, the A's had a few line drives caught, but so did the M's, and the M's made two big outs on the bases. The M's had a nice lead in bases anyway.)
Here we have an average-solid SP vs. an average-solid SP, and for the M's to win the base count again would be a VERY uplifting signal...
Q. Who pitches the 7th and 8th?
A. League can close again, but Wilhelmsen's out. If it's tight, we found out which reliever Wedge mistrusts the least.
Probably Sherrill. At least he's been there before.
Not sure why they pulled Vargas so early...but Kelley wouldn't have been my first choice to trust with a man on base in a 1-0 game.
Not that we have many great options.
This is going to be a major problem. This was the thing I was most worried about for 2012...the Mariners bullpen looks really REEEEALLLY soft right now beyond Wilhelmson and League. Sherrill needs to be DFAd ASAP. Absolute mush he's throwing at this point. Kelley...was effective last year and has the same stuff now...so...willing to give him a bit more time. But we need to start using the youngsters and seeing what we have there.
Whereas at least Delabar could theoretically be effectively wild a la David Aardsma.
Agree soundly with all of that, except that to me when Vargas came out for the 7th, he was visibly laboring. Pretty bad.
May need to go to Erasmo as the #3 guy. Emergency is the mother of invention.
Turrible. Just turrible.
All the more reason I did not understand the grooved pitches to fastball hitters. If the umpire is giving a zone the size of Yokozuna (hey, Wrestlemania's this weekend) then WHY chuck the ball down the heart of the plate or into the wheelhouse of the batter?
I understand that Kelley hung a slider, but I don't understand why he threw it with the ability to hang in the middle of the plate anyway. Delabar has good life on his pitches (sometimes too much - I like the Aardsma analogy) but he too threw pitches that caught far too much of the plate for the zone he was given.
Just seemed like a very poor approach by our pen - or they just didn't have any stuff to go into battle with. Frustrating end to a very enticing pitching duel.
I would agree that Delabar was catching too much of the plate with his heater...but the reason, I think, is obvious. He can't aim for the edge of the zone and hope it stays there...his pitch cone is as wide at the plate as...the plate. In other words...he has no idea where it's going. He aims for the middle of the plate and hopes the ball will, at random, end up somewhere else.