the first eye-opening performance of camp strikes the field


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You know how it is with spring training games.  They don't mean nearly as much as we wish they did.  But!  If Andrew Moore pitches tomorrow, you still want to know whether his outing HELPed him or HURT him.

In that spirit, let's go crib note style, keepin' it loose.  Here then, choose ye from among a baker's dozen of talking points.


1.  MARC-O HARD BUY - he did more than help himself.  He was so good he established himself as the #5 starter.  Pending further developments, of course.  But this was the first ST outing, and if he executes precisely those pitches in 2018 he runs a 3.85 ERA, end of story.

2.  He didn't throw the 79 dead-fish changeup that Dr. D is obsessed with.  He did get a swinging strike on one that was 84 and deceptively thrown.  Perhaps Marc-O views himself differently than Dr. D views him.

3.  Sunday:  Time and time again Zuumball stuck the mitt up open for the ball, closed it after the pitch, and flinged it back.  Much of the time it was Moyeresque command, and at 92 MPH.

4.  I thought this guy was supposed to be a soft-tosser?!  He sits 92 and touches 94-95.

5.  With a fastball as good as Ariel Miranda's, that makes him miles ahead of Miranda.  The rest of Marc-O's game is big league functional.

6.  The power slider was 83 MPH and see comment (3).  Just EXcellent command considering it is a breaking pitch.  All day.  Any time you want, here it is, here you go, a power slider for a strike - often, painted on the black.

7.  There was a lot of debate -- on TV, because Dipoto and Marc-O did interviews during the game -- about his cut fastball.  Can cause pain after TJ.  But it is huge for a kid wanting to throw changeups to righties.  Sunday his cutter was fairly frequent, not very frequent, but there several times.

8.  He's a super nice guy, out of Gonzaga, who will be awfully easy to root for.

9.  I like that he always throws out of the stretch.  Never forget Greg Maddux' wisdom, "Your most important pitches come out of the stretch" so you might as well practice that way.

10.  The comp for #5 is between Gonzales, Miranda and Moore but w/r/t Marc-O, "If he's healthy he's on the club."  Of course that's partly because he's out of minor league options.  

11. Dipoto emphasized that Marc-O was a #19 overall, "used to be a top prospect" meaning in GM-speak "used to be viewed as a potential star."  Gonzales' UP side is indeed that of stardom.

12.  Here is Greg Johns on the M's site, with video and reportage.  Marc-O is liable to make Bat571 look very good, very quickly.

13.  I hadn't realized he had such a good September.  2.81 ERA, 16 IP with a 17:4 CTL and 1 homer.  He explained this as, The day came (after TJ) I just decided I was going to go out there and let it rip.

Dr. D still longs for the awesome changeup Gonzales had in St. Louis, but the kid pitching Sunday didn't need it.


Ben Gamel was awesome, ripping a tough fastball up-and-in for a standup triple.  (Gamel is the rare lefty who is better high than low.)  Then he scored on a non-hit play, WP I think it was.


Dr D


image:  Baseball America




I was just looking back to see effects and movement of previous slider usage and Brooks only really had useful 2014 data because he didn't use it much in MLB since then.  Well he wasn't in MLB much since then until last year when he wasn't using it.

His fastballs and change having rise, splitter rising only slightly and the curve of course dropping aren't much surprise.  3 things struck me as I changed date ranges on his splits and movement/ usage charts.

1 The Curve and Splitter are around 8-11 inch horizontal movement different from his other pitches.

2 In 2014 he used CB+SPL about 11.33% VS RHB, 26.59% VS LHB

3 In 2014 he gave up OPS of .827 VS RHB, .397 VS LHB

It's surely not that simple, although I'd bet there's something to it.  His MiL splits that year were also reversed,  .694 VS RHB and .579 VS LHB.  In 2013 he got in 4 games vs Rookie leaguers then slaughtered A+ ballers through 4 starts.  2015 it seems he had a rough first 6 starts in AAA(.910 OPS against), was rested for 6 weeks, came back but eventually needed Tommy John.  2014 seems like the only useful data at all on him. 

I didn't realize he was rushed that much. 100 MiL innings on the nose before his first call-up.

Anyway, It seems I was researching the same player you were finishing up writing about. 

Nathan H's picture

John Trupin at Lookout Landing came out with a great post a couple of weeks ago about Marco's arm-slot change.

TL;DR - Marco's arm slot change has unlocked a few extra MPH in all of his pitches at the expense of his impact change-up.

Given his current mechanics, we will never see his deadly change of yore again. And that's okay! I think Marco's repitoire is more sustainable as a James Paxton lite lite lite than as a...whatever he was before: short-arming, over-the-top, control lefty struggling at the edge of the acceptable velocity window.

I'm looking forward to watching Marco pitch, now. I was really pretty raw about the O'Niell trade. This mechanical change has me intrigued.


When I was looking that all up.  I still would have done it to get a better idea of his Slider.  A part of the change in release point can be a change in the direction pitches move.  In this case I think it affected his curve the most, making it much more 12-6 than before.

Per Fangraphs his Slider was his most valuable pitch in 2014, his Changeup in 2017.  Per Brooks his Curveball last year was a high contact worm burner.

I don't understand 2016 counting against his clock.  IMO he should have an option left not that I think it should change retroactively.  In similar situations, if not for him, it can be best for the player to be able to go down for awhile when they're still working on recovery.  Many a starting pitcher has had detrimentally limited workloads to be kept on the big league roster when they should have been working through the rust in the minors.  He does seem closer than many others I've seen in that kind of predicament. 


Felix hit by a line drive off his right elbow against the Cubs.  Hope it's not serious. 


It was hard to tell if he was hit in the elbow or on the front of the upper arm.  This sort of answers that.

5:25pm: X-rays came back negative, the club announced (h/t Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, via Twitter), so it seems the worst-case scenario has been avoided.

3:27pm: Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez took a comebacker off his right arm during today’s Cactus League contest against the Cubs and exited the game without throwing another pitch. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times has a video of the play in his initial column on the injury. Hernandez immediately drops his glove, does not try to pick up the ball, and leaves the field with head trainer Rob Nodine holding his right arm. Divish further tweets that the Mariners are sending Hernandez back to their facility in Peoria for evaluation. For now, they’re only saying that he was struck on the “upper forearm.”


As a former flag-league QB, a bad bruise on your forearm doesn't SOUND like it would be a big deal to play through.  Or at least recover from quickly.  Maybe that's just me.

A broken bone, or a bad bruise right on the point of an elbow bone, that would be a different subject in my QB world.


If this was a shot off the elbow, it was going to be a while before he was game ready. Maybe a very long while.  The forearm thing may go more quickly.  But it will set him back a couple of weeks, best case scenario, anyway.


I was more concerned even in the event of a bruise because they made it sound, in the reports, like it was his elbow. Even the video replay makes it look like that. But they have clarified that it was high enough above the elbow to just be a bone bruise, not something on the joint...and the negative x-ray rules out any actual fractures. That makes this far less scary.

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