Astros’ division rival: 2018 Seattle Mariners

It has taken a little while to finish off the Astros’ division rivals, but today we look at the Seattle Mariners heading into 2018.

2017 M’s

  • 78-84 Record (79-83 Pythagorean) – T 3rd Place in the AL West; 23 GB of Astros; 7 GB of Twins for 2nd Wild Card
  • Offense – .259 BA (6th in AL) / .325 OBP (6th) / .749 OPS (7th) / 750 Runs (7th) / 200 HRs (10th) / 89 SBs (8th)
  • Starting Pitching – 4.70 ERA (9th) / 1.32 WHIP (6th) / .261 BA against (8th) / .779 OPSA (10th) / 159 HR (3rd most) / 279 BB (12th most) / 697 K (11th)
  • Relief Pitching – 4.08 ERA (7th) / 1.29 WHIP (8th) / 60% save % (12th) / .244 BAA (9th) / .713 OPSA (6th) / 79 HR (6th most) / 211 BB (9th most) / 547 K (7th)

Summary of 2017

The Mariners had an average offense and bullpen and a below average starting rotation, which resulted in a team that was a little bit below average for the season. They made a lot of changes in the off-season and hope this will get them over the hump and back in the playoff hunt.

2018 M’s Offense

The M’s had a decent middle of the road offense in 2017 and scored the 7th most runs in the AL. They had some good offensive weapons such as DH Nelson Cruz, 2B Robinson Cano and SS Jean Segura, but made some moves to try and give them a bit more spark.

  • The M’s thought outside the box and went out and got middle infielder Dee Gordon whose speed resulted in 114 Runs scored and 60 SBs in 2017. The outside the box part was they did not need a middle infielder, but they did need a CF and they have moved him there and stuck him in the leadoff spot.
  • They also went out and got 1B Ryon Healy from the A’s, who put up 25 HR and 84 RBIs in 149 games last season, but had to give up young stud reliever Emilio Pagan to get him. Now they just need to get Healy off the DL.
  • They are hoping that Mitch Haniger can stretch out his .282 BA/ .352 OBP/.843 OPS slash over more than 96 games this season.
  • They brought back fast aging Ichiro Suzuki who is an M’s icon, but may only holding a spot until Ben Gamel returns from the DL.

Starting Rotation

The M’s discussed using a 6 man rotation at some point in 2018 and then have started the season only using 4 starters so far due to only playing 12 games.

  • James Paxton who is well known to the Astros as an Astro killer is the ace of this staff with his 12-5 record and 2.98 ERA/1.103 WHIP leading the way in 2017.
  • Felix Hernandez only started 16 games in 2017 and continued his steady decline with a 6-5 recored, 4.39 ERA and 1.292 WHIP. Not bad, but no longer an ace.
  • Mike Leake came over from the Cards last year and had 5 good starts for the M’s. They are hoping he repeats that 2.53 ERA for them as a 3rd starter.
  • Marco Gonzales has been picking up the other starts for the M’s after a not so impressive 2017 between St. Louis and Seattle.
  • When the M’s do need more starters they will likely pick between Erasmo Ramirez, Andrew Moore and Ariel Miranda, but starting pitching looks like an overall weakness for the M’s.

Relief Pitching

The M’s had a middle of the road bullpen in 2017. They again made various moves to boost that part of their team.

  • They brought in free agent Juan Nicasio from the Cards, who was excellent in 2017 with a 2.61 ERA in 76 games.
  • They brought back free agent Wade LeBlanc, who struggled with the Pirates in 2017.
  • They picked up off waivers Chasen Bradford who had decent numbers with the Mets in 2017.
  • They are hoping that Edwin Diaz their closer improves on one critical number as the M’s only saved 60% of their opportunities in 2017.
  • They are also hoping that trading young Emilio Pagan for Healy does not come back to bite them as he showed good stuff in 2017.

Predictions for the 2018 Mariners

The M’s will go as far as their rotation takes them and that is a big question mark. Yes, they have had a good start to their 2018 season, but some of it seems a little smoke and mirrors. Their offense should be a bit better. Their bullpen should be a bit better, but they need a lot out of the rotation to have a real playoff run.

2018 Prediction:€“ 81-81 and 4th place in the AL West

93 comments on “Astros’ division rival: 2018 Seattle Mariners

  1. Can agree with them being slightly better. You say 2 games, I might go 5 higher. The key to each team is injuries. The injuries last year did not derail the Astros. It did the Mariners and Angels. For them to do well, they need a lot of luck or a miracle healer if it happens again this year.

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  2. I would have to agree 2-5 games better. The “hangover” team right now besides 3 staring pitchers, look uninspired and on auto pilot. I think it will be a 3 team race and the Angles looking like the Astro’s of last year, I sort of remember that team )-:. I have to watch my DVD to remind myself.

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  3. At the moment I would say the 5-9 Dodgers are showing the bigger World Series hangover, but the Astros need to shake up their moribund offense and reverse this slide.

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  4. Even with their injuries, the Mariners starting pitching looks good enough to sweep the Astros team we saw this past weekend. 26 Ks and 18 hits in 29 inninngs against old men and rookies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mariner’s starting pitching coming into the series:
      – Mike Leake – 2-0 3.50 ERA (3 starts)
      – Felix Hernandez – 2-2 5.48 ERA (4 starts – I think we miss seeing him)
      – James Paxton – 0-1 5.74 ERA (3 starts – he’s been a lot better than this against us)
      – Marco Gonzales – 1-1 8.25 ERA (3 starts)

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  5. An indication of what adrenaline can do up against World Series Champs. It’s fight or flight, and for the time being it looks like the only flight involved is the plane trip into Houston.

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  6. Interesting look at the top free agents for next season including Dallas Keuchel.
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/2018-19-mlb-free-agent-power-rankings.html

    Note that Marwin did not even make the “other” list of those that might get upward of $40 million, which I guess makes sense.

    I wonder what value MarGo will have. Looking around it seems that a lot of teams have been looking for and valuing position flexibility, which gives them an opportunity to carry more pitchers.

    After this off-season, do the free agents who are not wearing blue ribbons settle for qualifying offers or try to get a solid extension rather than risk going out in the market and not pulling in what they might think they are worth.

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    • Looks to be a very interesting off season. I think Marwin will be looking for a multi-year deal (assuming he picks up his current pace!). I can see 3 yrs at $10-12M per year. If he puts up another season like last year, then a good bit more.

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  7. I’m less concerned with who the Mariners are pitching than with who we’re pitching against their offense. Will Keuchel wake up? Will McCullers have another of his increasingly frustrating outings? Will Charlie pitch well on the road? I expect Cole will be good but there are three big question marks on the others.

    I really don’t think the M’s will challenge. They may reach 81 wins but I think their pitching is too iffy. The Angels’ pitching is pretty fragile as well but the Angels are very good defensively which will help their pitching. Our defense should be doing the same for us. We just need to hit the baseball. I do expect we’ll wake up like the Cubs did last year but sure hope we don’t wait until the All Star break to do it.

    Is anyone else completely fed up with Derek Fisher getting called out on strikes? When someone blows his opportunity like Fisher it aggravates me, especially since Davis was starting to heat up in Minnesota. Fisher’s K rate is now officially 50%. Jake is close with 47%.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Time for a change. Fisher has had almost 3 weeks to get it together. We don’t need two Jakes. Bring up a hitter (JD?) and send Fisher back down.

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    • How long will our starting pitching core will go before they get aggravated over little or no run support. We know what happens when the pitcher feels the pressure that he has to toss a shut out to have a chance of winning. We should be at least 13 -3 not 10 – 6.

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  8. It’s a rough day when you hit three home runs in the 9th inning off of Fresno Grizzly relievers and still can’t win. Oh, boy.

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    • I see that Tyler White is hitting .341 with 4 HR and 10 RBI already for the Griz. I sure wish he could do something similar to that at the MLB level – because our DH is slashing all of .196/.288/.571 with 0 HRs and RBIs, with a little more than a 30% K rate.

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      • Bill, don’t forget, White had an .853 OPS in limited play last year. If Gattis had an injury, I think we’d see him.

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      • I try to be patient with players, but I just don’t see much value in Gattis anymore. He has no defensive position and even if he starts hitting with power he is still a low OBP hitter with a high K rate. I am getting very close to wanting to end the Gattis experiment and bring up Dave’s nephew.

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  9. Despite an underwhelming overall start by the offense, and a downright offensive start by Jake and Fisher and Marwin and Gattis, are we really ready to send Fisher down so quickly? We’re still 10 and 6. Right now, Fisher looks unprepared. As I said a few days ago, I’m pissed too. But I’m not ready to send him down yet. The option is Tony Kemp. And I don’t think that’s much of an upgrade. As far as Gattis goes, I’m staying out on my limb wth him, even though I think White could step in tomorrow and not be so bad. If we were 6 and 10, I’d probably feel differently.

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  10. Looks like the Astros have gotten their one run.
    Somehow, Keuchel will have to manage to take Cruz’s HR off the board to win the game

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  11. Two things:
    Fire Hudgens, and get another hitting coach, because these guys clearly are not listening to him anymore.
    It’s time for a “Come to Jesus meeting” in the clubhouse. Can’t keep wasting excellent pitcning, when they only score one run.
    McCullers is on the bump tomorrow…..need I say more?

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  12. We are struggling offensively, but firing Hudgens just seems like a knee-jerk reaction to a slow offensive start. Have we already forgotten the Astros had a historically great offense in 2017? Are we going to blame Hudgens for this slow start yet not give him credit for an offense that was on par with the 1927 Yankees? I love you, Becky, but getting rid of Hudgens is not the solution. Despite this deep offensive funk the team is still 10-7 and they will start hitting. Be patient and the good times will return soon enough.

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      • Don’t know who was listening to who, Sandy, but am concerned about absence of Beltran and Cora. What I read about Beltran’s influence tells me he has to be missed and Cora’s current position speaks for itself.

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      • I was wondering last night if they miss Beltran. I never thought Cora was that a big a deal. In fact, I asked this group last season if Cora seemed to have much influence and all I got was crickets.

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  13. On the positive side . . .

    1. that was the best start so for Keuchel [not many K’s still, but a 14-3 GO/AO];
    2. our bullpen didn’t blow a single lead.
    3. Springer seems to be hitting better;
    4. Jake Marisnick only struck out two of the three times he batted;
    5. So far we are still ahead of the A’s and the Rangers in the standings.
    6. No one is asking, quite yet, who the Astros will select with the #1.1 pick in next year’s amateur draft.

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  14. Maybe I’m a knucklehead, but I’m encouraged. If Keuchel can do that on a regular basis, we’re back to having the best rotation in the league.

    These guys, at least most of them, will hit.

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      • I’ll also have you know that in a large clan full of nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews, I am indeed referred to as Uncle Knucklehead, although a few of younger ones are now calling me Uncle Coconuts. I’m equally proud of both monikers.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You probably come from a long, proud, and highly distinguished line of knuckleheads, as do I.

        At least we are not like all those other, lame-brained, nit-wit knuckleheads.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. It is frustrating to have this many well thrown games by starters and not cashing in on them, but that is baseball which is a wildly streaky game. If the team is still not hitting after 6 weeks then you have a real problem. What they have right now is a 10 game slump more or less.
    – I feel like Carlos Correa is just about to break out. He just missed a couple times on some balls he was trying to go the other way on.
    – It would have been a different game I think if Haniger had not made a terrific play on Yuli’s drive to right center with Correa on first. It had double to the wall written all over it and sometimes you just need that one break.
    – I would rather see Reddick against a lefty than Marisnick against anybody right now.
    – The Astros are reminding me of 2016 right now – they get past the first 5 hitters and nothing is happening. Marwin looks like old Marwin, Gattis can’t hit anything, Fisher or Marisnick are K machines, Stassi and McCann are coming back to normal.

    These guys just need to have a couple big innings and I think they will get back on a roll. They are trying way too hard.

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  16. The problem is not Hudgens.
    The problem is Springer, Bregman, Altuve, Correa, Gattis, Reddick, McCann Fisher, Marisnick, Gonzalez, Stassi and Gurriel.
    They’re not hitting and they need to do their jobs.

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  17. Those who put their money where their mouth is have to lay $181 to win $100 on the substantial favorite Astros tonight. And since I trust there were some things odd about his last start, I’m fairly sure we bounce back tonight.

    “I’m not happy with the last result and kind of wearing the bullpen out and not going deep,” McCullers said. “But I tried something, and obviously, it didn’t fit me as a pitcher. I think it was better early than later on (in the season) that I realized that I have to stick to what I do.”

    Miranda is 1-2 in five career starts against us, with a 4.65 ERA in 31 2/3 innings pitched, which includes a no-decision last September in which he gave up one run (and no hits) in six innings of work.

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  18. Look, there are really two problems. First, we have a couple guys who can be really streaky in Bregman and Gattis. When they’re hot…they look like stars. When they’re cold, well, they’re cold right now. Second, we had the conversation in the offseason about LF and what to do there. The optimistic contention was that Marwin’s 2017 is far better than any of the available OF options could deliver and there is always that Fisher guy. Well, between Marisnick (.146/.146/.293), Marwin (.164/.277/.273), and Fisher (.143/.194/.286) something’s gotta give. The only options are for one of them to sprain an eyebrow during batting practice and go on the DL or for Fisher to fly out to Fresno.

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    • If all those guys continue on the same path, and Tucker is not ready to go, I’m sure Luhnow will go out and find someone. He’ll create a new option.

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    • I think it’s Fisher in lieu of White. But I’d like to see Drew Ferguson get a shot if he continues his torrid pace. I consider Stubbs a candidate to replace Stassi if needs be, and Hoyt to give way to any of Hauschild Armenteros Martes, maybe even Emmanuel. Paulino still on DL is curious. Can we just keep Sipp on Injured Reserve, like the NFL?

      Some early K specialists to keep an eye out for are; QC’s Tyler Ivey, Hook’s Josh James and BC’s Brandon Bielak.

      Last night is a reiteration of Keuchel getting very little run support. In the last 16 innings, the Astros’ starting pitchers have permitted three earned runs and yielded only nine hits. In return, they’ve received one run and four hits of backing.

      A true test will be how our pitchers handle this because in the past we’ve had very public comments (Clemens and Oswalt come to mind), where it seems to only spotlight hitting woes. At least strike zone disclipline is an organizational focal point, and we’re not starting with the impossible task of having to acquire capable hitters.

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  19. If Fisher continues to flounder on this road trip I think it would be wise to call up White even though he can’t play the outfield. Marwin can be the regular left fielder and if Marwin would have to take over a spot in the infield then Marisnick can fill in the outfield. About the only place White can’t fit on the infield is SS. He could even spell Bregman occasionally by letting White play first and using Yuli at third. Sending Fisher to Fresno lets him play every day. I think he needs that. White could also DH if Gattis continues to disappear. For all those who aren’t ready to give up on Fisher you ought to bear in mind that its not just the regular season that he’s had the chance to figure it out, he had all of spring training as well and was pretty awful there except for a couple of good games toward the end. We really need to eliminate ABs from guys whose K rates are higher than their OPS.

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  20. The guys face another tough lefty tonight. We had a discussion about Hudgens last year and in 2016…..so my post was not new. Something or someone had better get thier attention….and SOON. Put down the video games and get with the program. You are earning a ton of money to play baseball. I’ll be saying a prayer for Mr. McCullers tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. With our current luck we’ll break out and score 11 runs. Unfortunately, the pitching will go off the rails and we’ll give up 13 runs. I could sure use a dose of optimism from Dr Feelgood.

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  22. With the bases loaded and a full count, Jake went down looking at a fast ball right down the middle. What else could he have been looking for?

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    • We’ll never win a game if we can’t get guys in once we get them on base. What’s Jake even doing on this team? 1 for 5 RISP. Springer 2K’s

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  23. It’s time to either only play Jake when it’s a blow out, or as a pinch runner.
    Luhnow *LOVES* the guy, but even Luhnow can see Marisnick is just a bench player, and unless he can find the same Mojo that J. D. Martinez found, his bat is hurting this team. That knuckle curve and change up were McCullers bread and butter tonight! I just hope McCann’s, hand is ok. Can’t lose that guy.
    I’m off to bed…..these West coast games are killers!!
    Daveb….I thought the same thing when I found out Barbara Bush had passed away. The impossible Astros won it all!! What a GRAND lady!

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      • The smart guys apparently never played baseball on anything but a screen. If you played, you know ‘hitting in the clutch’ – and ‘clutch pitching’, for that matter – means the difference between winning and losing, especially in the games that matter most. ‘Clutch’ hitting and ‘clutch pitching’ just can’t be measured with geek stats, so the ‘smart guys’ don’t know what to do with them.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Good morning! I just woke up to find that our good guys won last night! And we’ve got five, or even six or seven starters that can dominate a ball game.

    But it’s time for me to procrastinate. We’ve only got 12 guys on offense. There must be a stat somewhere on how many strikeouts a guy has put together without a walk to start a season. At 0 and 24, Jake might be in the hunt. If this continues, say until the end of the month, he’s got to go down. And Fisher has not hit since we embraced him in June of 2017. He might not be an ML hitter. He also gets an end of April deadline. I’m not going to wait until June any longer.

    So, to me, that means we get Tony Kemp’s lefty bat back. Underwhelming to me, but I know he’ll at least give us better at bats. And as Billl has noted again, it’s almost nephew time again. If he hits like he did last season in a same sample, that will be plenty.

    Our super deluxe utility man remains a problem too with his. Own .164 average, but at least he’s walked 9 times, which tells me he’s still got an idea of what to do at the plate.

    So what do we do?

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  25. OK maybe I’m the knucklehead here daveb, but I take heart:
    – In a huge LMc turn around – threw one pitch to Cano that he golfed out but otherwise he pitched brilliantly and got thru 7 which he rarely does
    – In the hits and walks last night – most not clutch except McCann’s first McCannonball but it’s coming
    – Some really hard hit balls by guys like Altuve and Gurriel that were caught – it’s coming
    – A couple hits by Gattis
    – The knowledge that at some point Jake will put the ball in play again

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  26. So, if you are James Hoyt today how do you feel about your career arc, when you are 31 y.o. and you get brought up for 10 days, pitch 1/3 of an inning and then get sent back down so Tony Sipp can be activated.

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  27. That’s two ‘best outing of the year’ starts in a row for our rotation. Can Gerrit Cole keep the ‘best outing of the year’ streak going?

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    • Pretty amazing story. They were married at 19 and were married for 72+ years – longest of any first couple. Only she and Abigail Adams were married to one president and the mother to another. And I believe she was a descendent of President Franklin Pierce (her maiden name).
      I think she was a tough toe the line bird – sounded like she strove to keep her grandkids in line.
      I was touched reading about her son Neil. He had troubles reading when he was young and she would read to him a lot. While she was dying – he reciprocated and read to her.

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      • Well, no sooner had I wondered about her sunset wit than here comes an interview with George and Laura Bush. They told how as they were visiting her here, the doctor came in. Barbara Bush addresses the doctor: “You know why George is the way he is? Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him.”

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  28. Good to hear. Loss of 3-year-old daughter Robin to leukemia changed their lives. Seven-year-old George once told a friend he could not come out to play since he had to play with his mother, who was lonely. During that time frame, apparently, her hair turned white. She once told someone that a sense of humor helps, as it surely does.

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  29. Since I’ve been one of McCullers most vocal critics I have to tip my hat to him for last night. His next assignment is to develop some consistency and to keep working on his fastball command.

    If Jake has options I think a long stint in AAA would do him good. A couple years ago that looked like it might happen but then Springer got hurt and Jake had to be brought back up. Why not bring up Kemp and White, send Fisher and Jake down to play every day and see what happens? Kemp may not be as fast as Fisher but would still be a very competent baserunner and defensive player and could be counted on to at least put the ball in play with some regularity. I mentioned this the other day but both Fisher and Jake have K rates higher than their OPS.

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  30. Josh James threw 98 mph last night for Corpus, and has 21 SO in 13 innings with a 0.77 WHIP.

    McCullers trails only Gerrit Cole’s 36, with 34 strikeouts in 21 innings. His 7th inning strikeout of Nelson Cruz was truly a sight to behold. It looked like he was swinging at a whiffle ball!

    Drew Ferguson is our hottest minor league bat, in 47 AB’s 19 hits with 11 RBI .404 avg and 1.160 OPS. In a draft class that saw Bregman, Tucker, Cameron and Ferell, we made out pretty well in the 19th round.

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      • You did watch the Twins game, right? So, you did see that the 8 runs which will hamper McCullers’ ERA for quite some time was pretty much on Alex Bregman. On a routine double play ball hit directly to Correa which would’ve ended the inning, and somehow in which Bregman wasn’t charged with an Error, the Twins kept the inning alive. How come nobody made that comment in Lance’s defense? The video is plain as day.

        https://www.mlb.com/news/max-kepler-hits-walk-off-homer-to-lift-twins/c-271780248

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      • Grayson, I saw that play. Bregman probably should not have laid out for that ball because even if he fields it cleanly, he might not get an out. However, the official scorer correctly did not give him an error though. At the same time, no way Correa turns two. The ball was hit too slowly. The point is that Lance lost his composure. Again. Bregman sure did not create that inning by diving for a baseball he could not make a play on. McCullers allowed that inning to get out of hand.

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  31. I did want to point out that in the Angels loss last night – Mr. Ohtani pitched only 2 innings and gave up 2 walks, 4 hits including a home run and 3 runs, and taking the loss.
    And the Angels bullpen had to use 5 guys in the first game of the series against the Red Sox.

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    • Whether it was a blister, or not — I watched the game and didn’t notice him look at his hand — Ohtani didn’t impress me with good command at all. Betts started right in on him, while David Price pitched like the true veteran.

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  32. If Cole strikes out double digits tonight it will be the first time in major league history that a pitcher will start the season with 4 starts of 10 Ks or more.

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  33. McCann gets us going but the K machine is with us again (4K’s already). Cole a little off tonight but I have confidence he’ll adjust.

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  34. Despite not having his best stuff Cole hung in there until the bats lit up. Great to see Margo bust out. If I remember correctly we started last year with Bregman hitting #2 and he got off to a weak start. When they moved him down and Reddick up the offense started to work. Hope the same thing happens this year. I like second half of 2017 Alex hitting second but until he gets back to that level this new order makes more sense.

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    • Yeah and they had Marwin sit out a game and he came back last night with a fresh approach – it helps that he got to bat left handed.

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