Marco Looked Very Promising
the official SSI grok, kiddies


One of yer all-time great 4-IP KO's.  Heh.  ... no, the Mainframe is fond of grokking that a pitcher deserved more, or less, than he got.  Seemed to it that Gonzles "deserved" 6 IP, 2 ER against the Royals.  Why didn't he get it?  Let's crunch it ...



From the CF, Marco's heater was a very pleasant surprise.  He threw it short-arm, meaning without extending the elbow, and concealed the ball behind his ear.  The velocity averaged 92.0 MPH per Brooks and 91.1 MPH per Fangraphs' F/X.  He has a real affinity for taking it up to the letters and inside on the hands.  The late life was excellent.

So it was a George Sherrill fastball, called "sneaky" by the pros and "stinging" by Dr. D.  As Bat pointed out, this isn't a John Halama or Mark Beuhrle or even Jason Vargas with a super-short fastball.  Marco's fastball got on them pretty quick and he used it in attack rhythm. 

Six swings and misses off a fastball in 50 pitches, that's good by anybody's standards, Sale's or Paxton's or anybody's.  Hitters don't swing and miss that much off fastballs.



(1) Threw it twenty times and only gave up one hit, so results were good.  (2) In the booth, Mike Blowers praised it highly.  (3) The scouts say it's his signature pitch.  (4) He somehow threw it past lefties, even in their loop zones.  (4) He threw it in any count, which is totally key.  He didn't just use it to "put away" hitters, nor just to cross up over-aggressive hitters.  He had a real affinity for a legitimate, unpredictable mix.  (5) He had the Royals "in between," late on some fastballs.  (6) The arm action was nice; he "sold" it well.

That said, I was expecting a better cambio on Sunday.  I thought we'd get -10 MPH separation and a big late drop.  Instead we got a -7 MPH separation (?) and only -4 inches compared to his fastball.

Don't get me wrong; it was easily his best pitch, with a -0.62 runs effect on only 19 pitches.  But it wasn't the -14 MPH diveball we saw back in 2013.

Hm.  One game maybe?  or perhaps here is where Bat's warnings about rehab come in?



Was DELIGHTED! to see a David Wells-type 10-to-4 slow yakker as his third pitch.  One KC righty waited back on it and hit a long, medium strength fly ball that wound up in the right center gap, but except for that, Marco threw 8 of them unscathed.  They were prett-TAY, as Wesley says.  :- )

I think it was Butch Henry who claimed that he was as good as Jamie Moyer --- > except for Moyer's curve ball.  When a fastball-changeup lefty can come in there with a weird third pitch it can make a big difference.



The Royals hit five balls hard off of Marco's fastball for clean base hits, not including two or three more sharply-struck balls that were run down in the OF, but including a two-run homer to Whit Merrifield that was really just a fairly ordinary 376-foot fly ball:



The HR/FB stat is a luck stat for a reason.  Like we said, Marco deserved about 6 IP, 2 ER or so.  But still, the Royals KO'ed Marco and that's to their credit.



Marco had excellect rhythm and attack.  In fact Fangraphs had his "PACE" at below major league average, despite a "debut" game, and he stayed ahead in counts.  He went after them with his fastball, moving it around the plate, and always had an idea what he wanted to do.



Gonazles threw way tooooo many fastballs, in my opinion, especially considering he doesn't know the league and doesn't expand the zone much.  He threw 65% fastballs and most of the hard-hit balls, the Royals seemed to be sitting dead red.

He's capable of throwing his changeup for called strikes or not, and he was most definitely capable of called strikes with his curve.  Guess here is, he's going to need to go 50-30-20 or even 40-40-20.  Not 65-25-10 which is EXACTLY the mix that James Paxton throws.  65% would have Marco in the top five, both leagues, for fastball frequency.  He's got a Sherrill fastball, but that's too much pressure on it.

... granted, a 7-run lead might have been some small part of the story ...

It is precisely here that Marco can easily rack the hitters' uncertainty wayyyyy up.  Show them a 50%, 55% offspeed mix and they'll start looking puzzled in the box.  Tomorrow's news today, babe :- )



The box score looked weak but Marco's performance most definitely did not.  He fastball was OHHhhhhh so much better :: swoon :: than we dared hope.  And who knew he had three pitches rather than two?

Dr. D likes Erasmo Ramirez - didn't see the second game, so somebody tell US what happened - and he is here to say that Andrew Moore will have a career in the big leagues, someday, soon.  Either of those two kids is easily "for choice" over Christian Bergman, Sam Gaviglio or most of the other 33 pitchers the M's have tried this year.

But if we have to draft fantasy teams right now, Dr. D takes Marco Gonzales ahead of either Erasmo or Moore, and he doesn't look back.  It is a major league template, and Marco Gonzales is real sharp within that template.

Dunno whether it will take him forty starts, or four, to figure it out.  But this kid has all the ingredients.



Dr D




Andrew Moore caught too much of the zone for a guy who can throw a pitch anywhere he wants to in his first exposure to the bigs, and has that learning curve to go. Marco is in a similar pattern, and his fastball got slapped around by guys who'd barely seen him on tape.  Maybe I'm just soured from remembering all the no-name AAAA players who made one of their first starts against us and obliterated us, but Marco didn't get that same leeway from the Royals.

I agree with you though in that I think the raw parts are there for a decent back-end starter.  Like you said, if he gets his pitch mix right and does pitch backwards while working the corners with 90+ mph heat (well, 90 in the old days of measuring but still) he could put some starts together.  I hope that begins with his next start. 

I just fear he has some adjustment time, as Moore does, and that it may be more of a bouncy to-and-from-Tacoma process than we would like... or can afford in August and September.


Following up on G-Money's comments on Moore and Gonzales, and how they each have to go through the league for a while and let MLB scouts creating a book on them... and then we will have a better idea on how good they can be...

What happened on Paul Blackburn?

I realize that the M's only had days to evaluate him before the end of the season, but obviously the M's scouts liked him enough to trade for him.

Blackburn has thrown 6 out of 7 QS to start out his MLB career... in Oakland, who is not known for their defense. Then add the 2.60 ERA and the recent shut out in Anaheim... and I'm wondering a loud why trade him when Dipoto was already looking for starting pitchers at the same time?? 

I am sure the league will catch up at some point, after the league "books him", and Blackburn does not have the control that Moore or Gonzales has demonstrated in the minors... but still??? Blackburn is similar to Moore and Gonzales that none of them has an over powering fastball, and none of them will ever average a K per inning.

Is Blackburn just lucky so far?... or are the M's just getting that unlucky this year?


So...yes...he's lucky. :)

That's the short, oversimplified answer, obviously. I think he is probably going to be another 4-4.50 ERA guy that eats innings...Oakland ends up finding a ton of these guys.


There is a lot of luck involved, as to which one is going to take a step forward.  You've got 100, 200, 300 pitchers around of Blackburn's/Gaviglio's ability.  Some small portion of them will get better.  It's like Pete Carroll and Bruce Arians guessing as to whether Young Linebacker X is going to jell and understand what he's seeing.  It's not totally under their control.

The best of them can try to fill outside straights, instead of trying to fill inside straights.  :- )

It IS a little odd to me, though, that in 2016-17 the Mariners have gotten less pitching luck rather than more.


The Brooks data shows the Ms have adjusted his release point, but he held it pretty solidly through the start. A little out and down from where it was in previous starts, but less variation. So, Lance Painter may be tweaking. If he gets the muscle memory from this down, and gets some better pitch selection, he may fit right in at #4. I suspect that the adjustment in release point may be why so many FB were called - getting him comfortable. And the FB seemed to be moving well, just too many at a time. As Doc says, I don't imagine he's 100% yet, but more from confidence and comfort rather than physical limitation.


He maintained his velocity much better in this start compared to the emergency outing he made for St. Louis in June, and all his pitches featured better depth.  I'm more convinced that he looks quite a bit like Alex Wood on the Dodgers, his adjusted release point is closer now than it was, and Alex Wood's 50/25/25 pitch mix on his Sinker/Change/Curve is almost precisely what Dr. D was calling for for Marco.


...if a fairly lucky HR is the difference between what we got and a 6IP/2R start, you're saying there's hope for the rest of this playoff run? =) That would be welcome news indeed...

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