The Boston Red Sox (15-19) finish their current homestand with a two-game series against the Seattle Mariners (16-20). The Mariners aren’t setting the world on fire lately but are 5-5 in their last 10 games, which is pretty good for the Mariners. Then again, the Red Sox aren’t setting the world on fire either, going 4-6 in their last 10. So I’ll go out on a limb and say that a global arson epidemic isn’t in the cards for this series.
Jason Vargas (facing Jon Lester) has pitched pretty well so far this season, but all is not rosy on the horizon for him. The good news for Vargas is that he is locating his 87 MPH fastball and his changeup, while not of the Bugs Bunny type, is an effective pitch. However, a closer look at his advanced statistics indicate a slight regression on the horizon. “But Vargas is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA!”, screamed Joe Morgan. Yes, Vargas has increased his strikeout rate to a career-high of 2.92 from the low 2s he had through his career, which can’t be bad. Also, Vargas has a 0.97 WHIP and is holding batters to a .197 average, both career lows. However, Vargas’s 2012 BABIP is a quite unsustainable .221, and he has a 3.52 FIP, a 3.77 xFIP and a 3.79 SIERA. Granted, if Vargas’s ERA were around 3.80 that would still be pretty good, but just not as good as his traditional stats indicate.
Blake Beavan (paired with Josh Beckett at the 4:00 tee time) doesn’t walk many batters, but that seems to be his only talent. He has surrendered a mere four walks in 33.1 innings pitched in 2012, which is excellent. However, he also doesn’t strike out many batters. Beavan’s 2012 K/BB is 14/4, and his 2001 mark was 42/15 in 97 innings. Although I hate the phrase “pitch to contact”, the numbers seem to show that that is what Beavan does. Even with so few walks, Beavan’s WHIP is 1.23 so far in 2012, and was 1.25 in 2011. Also of note, Beavan has already hit four batters so far in 2012, after hitting only three last season. Beavan is also due for a regression, as his BABIP is .276, and he has a 4.81 FIP (vs. a 4.32 ERA), a 5.15 xFIP, and a 4.91 SIERA. Gotta start missing some bats, Blake.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
Watch out for Kyle Seager. So far in 2012, Seager has a triple slash line of .295/.313/.491 and an fWAR of 1.4, with a wOBA of .353, an ISO of .196 and a 129 wRC. A little more patience at the plate and the M’s will have an excellent hitter at third for years to come. Ichiro Suzuki, while in his declining years, still has value, hitting .285/.329/.389 with a 1.3 fWAR. On the flip side, Brendan Ryan (.144/.266/.222, .225 wOBA, 40 wRC) and Justin Smoak (.205/.254/.311, .253 wOBA, 59 wRC) have not hit well, and Chone Figgins (.188/.255/.302, .254 wOBA, 60 wRC, -0.9 fWAR) was so terrible that manager Eric Wedge benched him.
In the Seattle bullpen, Tom Wilhelmsen is pitching very well and improvement is in the numbers. He has a 3.79 ERA but has an unlucky .340 BABIP, a 3.30 FIP, a 3.44 xFIP and a 3.00 SIERA. Lucas Luetge is also pitching well (0.00 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 3.41 xFIP, 3.51 SIERA) but if he improves his terrible 5.59 BB/9 he could have long-term success. Brandon League is getting the job done as closer but with stats like 1.29 K/BB, 2.12 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 4.44 xFIP, and 4.54 SIERA, expect a few blown saves, Mariner fans.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
In politics, it is said that “As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” For the Red Sox, it is “As goes the starting pitching, so goes Red Sox Nation.” Excellent starts from Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard helped propel the Sox to a series win over the Indians. The bullpen also continues to pitch well when called upon. Dustin Pedroia (.357/.439/.607), Will Middlebrooks (.310/.356/.714), and Adrian Gonzalez are the hot hitters over the past two weeks. Daniel Nava (.600/.750/1.000) has also hit well since being called up from Pawtucket. Kelly Shoppach (.176/.300/.294), Cody Ross (.213/.296/.404), and Mike Aviles (.228/.250/.333) aren’t hitting so well in the past two weeks. Call me crazy (and I know you do) but I’m starting to have some hope in the Red Sox.
The Seattle Mariners aren’t a good baseball team. Good place to see a game though.