Can the M's Poach a Series?
It's easier than you think


What's not easy, is to poach enough series to total 90 wins.   

:- )



If the M's can poach game 1, then they probably WILL take the series, of course:  even if the Indians had a full 2:1 shot of winning each game after -- and very few MLB games feature 2:1 odds -- they'd still only have a 44% chance of coming from behind to take a series.  The team that wins game 1 is the favorite to win ANY 3-game Major League series.  Even if the #1 team played the #30 team and botched Game One, they could expect to lose the series, playing it out from that position.

Unfortunately for the M's, the Indians have baseball's #1 starting rotation.  Or, at least that's what Dr. D has read in three or four authoritative sites.  

Corey Kluber has climbed all the way to #1 in Bill James' rankings.  Carlos Carrasco is #8 per Bill, ahead of Madison Bumgarner for example.  Trevor Bauer is #26 on his site, both AL and NL, which is about as high as Iwakuma ever got at his peak.  Josh Tomlin is #74, ahead of Alex Cobb for example, and Michael Clevenger is #89, making him nominally a #3 starter and he brings up the rear.  At #6 they even have Danny Salazar, who had a 12.7 K rate for the Indians last year and who has a 112 life ERA+.

So Vegas started the odds at -165 Indians +155 Mariners for the Opening Game, meaning that Vegas figured a clean 5:3 chance that Kluber would beat Felix.  Since then the public has liked the M's at those odds and they have drifted slightly towards Seattle, now to -163 +153.

So Kluber does not have a 98% chance of winning.  It only seems like it.  :- )



Dr. D can simply /cosign the terrifying Fangraphs scouting report on him:

... you know the story as Kluber held a 1.62 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 36.2% K rate, and 3.7% BB rate across his 23 starts following his June 1st return, including fourteen starts with double-digit strikeouts.

We give plenty of praise toward his cutter and slider (which combined for over half of Kluber's pitches during his magical run while accumulating an astounding 42.3 pVal combined and I could talk all day about their mind-blowing domination),

but the real breakthrough was in Kluber's ability to get positive results from his pair of heaters. His sinker held a marvelous .134 ISO across the 583 thrown through his dazzling stretch, a pitch that holds a -62.8 pVal and held a .222 ISO in 2016. His four-seamer was even more successful, limiting batters to a paltry .182 batting average, stealing strikes to set up his secondary pitches.

The tweak made to each was as simple as it gets: throw your worst pitches less often. Kluber reduced his overall fastball usage to a sub-50% clip for the first time since 2012 (just under 40%!), and debilitated batters with his elite breaking balls. Sometimes it's just that easy. (Nick Pollack)

The Quick Opinion: Kluber stopped throwing his worst pitches and threw more of his elite pitches and he won a Cy Young for it. There's little reason to expect different in 2018.


Here's a quick video glance.  He simply has a knack for throwing his 92-94 fastball at the knees and on the black, and it's got a vicious little drop to it.  If you overplay that, Kluber has a -10 MPH overhand yakker to lock you up.

Think Kevin Brown, those of you who watched baseball in the 90's.  From June 1 on, Kluber was 15-2, 1.62 with a 224:23 CTL in 166 innings, and a .175/.213/.283 slash line.  That's as good as anything Randy Johnson ever did.



Right now the decision is for Ichiro to start -- I'll be there in time to watch the ovation; should be worth the price -- and for Ariel Miranda (as opposed to the best Rainier at the time) to return April 11.  Ryon Healy is in the starting lineup prep'ing his 0-for-4 against Kluber; I'm not even going to list the 6-7-8 because Dr. D does not believe in batting lineups.



(1) Early in the game, Earl said, watch to see how the starters are throwing.  Hopefully Felix is doing one of two things:  (1) firing the ball the way he did in 2015, or (2) if he does not have that snappy stuff back, Dr. D hopes he will be throwing like the innings-eater that Zuumball and Stottlemyer have been trying to turn him into.  (Several articles are out about the way the M's want him to accept 2 K's per game, with poor-contact changeups and located fastballs, as opposed to trying dramatically to miss bats the way he used to be able to in 2015.)

And hopefully Corey Kluber is not throwing at his very best; it's possible, though FWIW his spring stats were in line with his horrifying 2017 run.

If Felix gives up four runs early trying to majestically strike people out with an 89 fastball and a mushy changeup, change the channel.


(2) If Dee Gordon gets on (perhaps with a bunt) or Jean Segura gets on, they've got to run.  This is not a left-hand pitcher with a maestro pickoff move; this is a righty power pitcher and last year Kluber gave up 15-for-20 stolen bases.  These two are simply THE BEST in the game at it, and they've got to try to turn BB's into doubles if the M's are going to show any chest hair this year at all.

I mean, it's not like you can go at will.  They stand there with a stopwatch and if the delivery time exceeds 1.x, you go.  But there's synergy in this M's lineup and even Ichiro would get chances to steal.  ... well, not him; he's got a calf.


(3) The puncher's chance.  Zunino's 170 PX can strike for an HR at any time, as can Boomstick's 119 RBI and greatly will the Denizens rejoice.


(4) Ichiro is in fact a week-plus away from being ready, as Servais said; they're relying on his experience, rather than his fine-honed March timing, to cope with Kluber .... I'll be thrilled if he bat-drags a slap single through SS in the old style.  I remember in the year 2001 a scout watched him do one of those and the scout scoffed, "He just does that to keep his batting average up."  Off-field slaps by Ichiro are fine by me this year.


(5) Let's see if we get to the bullpens tied.  Dr. D would be THRILLED to see Corey Kluber leave the game in the 6th (first game pitch count limits) and the M's within 1; this lineup can win a game from one run down, even though the Indians have an elite bullpen also.


(6) Personally I'll be at the game and maybe Denizens want to Slack.  It'll be fun to watch Dee Gordon's first CF game from the upper deck.


(7) Cindy told me to list that Dan Vogelbach is a great pinch-hitter.     ... :- )

Be Afraid,

Dr D



I’ll be with the missus at section 144, row 26, seats 11 and 12.

Love to say hi over some dippin dots: The ice cream OF THE FUTURE (apparently, as George Allen would say, the future is now).


Every time I see them, I think to myself, (in cryogenics lab guy's voice from Futurama) " the wooooorrrld of tomooorrrrrrow!"


I'm a newb to slsck. Have an account, can't find y'all. Anyone have a step-by-step?


is where we are located.

Rockies Jeff's picture

Thank you for the info Matt!



Apparently I need an invitation from admin?

Nathan H's picture

I downloaded the Slack app and signed in but...honestly...I can't figure this out. Can I request an invite? What is required of me to request joining?


! would like to join.  I need someplace to vent!  :)  

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