Alternate title: A’s 1st Inning > M’s Rest Of The Game
So, yeah, Felix has a real problem getting out of the first inning unscathed. It was already annoying when he was just giving up homers to the leadoff batter of the game; now it’s getting ridiculous!
Against the A’s – who benefited from my jinxing the King by saying he absolutely owns them in his career – Felix was given a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and proceeded to give up 4 hits and a walk en route to allowing 4 runs. That’s obviously very, very bad. The rest of the game, however, he only gave up 1 hit and 0 walks en route to allowing 0 runs through the 6th inning before giving way to the bullpen. He’s got it in him! That shadow of greatness is still there, and it still spills over into games! But, all too often he’s a mess with his command, and he gets killed for it.
With this new trend of the Rays having “Openers” start their games, pitching to the first 3-6 batters before the ostensible “starting” pitcher comes in for the next however many innings (allowing teams to go after the best hitters of opposing teams in the first inning, where they generally do a lot of damage), I see there have been calls for Felix to participate in something like this. For starters, I highly doubt this would ever happen (though, I do think it COULD be good for him). I think there’s something to the notion that a pitcher warms up in the bullpen before games, then sits down in the dugout for a spell (longer when on the road), and cools off before he has to come back out to start the game. If Felix went straight from the bullpen, warming up, into the game at the start of the second inning, it might lead to better performances. But, can we guarantee that’s the reason for his poor command (which I would think has more to do with mechanics than focus, though I guess you could say he needs to focus more on his mechanics, but whatever).
The main problem with this, as I see it, is if he still comes out (in the second inning or whatever) with poor command, it doesn’t matter a whole lot if he’s facing the top of the lineup or the bottom, he’s still likely to get shelled like he’s been this season. Also, what happens if the Opener has a bad night and HE gets shelled? Then you’ve not only wasted a quality reliever, but you’ve put your team and your starting pitcher in a hole!
Maybe it’s like the shift. Maybe over time, the numbers would show that it’s a net gain over the course of a season. All I know is that right now, these 2018 Mariners don’t have a whole helluva lot of quality relievers. Edwin Diaz is your closer, so he’s out. Do you trust Juan Nicasio or Nick Vincent to be your Opener? Maybe if Ryan Cook continues to pan out, but he’s coming off a serious injury and the team is trying to work him back slowly. Altavilla? Pazos? I dunno. I like the idea, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it implemented on a trial basis, but I just don’t know if it would work for this team.
Felix just needs to get better out of the gate, that’s all I know. I mean, shit man, he’s rocking an ERA of 5.58! I know he’s not the quote/unquote Ace anymore, but you wouldn’t even tolerate that type of production out of your FIFTH starter!
Not for nothing, but it’s also a shame the offense couldn’t drag their asses over the 4-run mark. I mean, for fuck’s sake, the A’s were rolling out a bullpen day! And we can’t get more than 3 guys home? Not that the lineup did you a ton of favors. Romine at second, Freitas behind the plate … I’ll say this, we need one of Nelson Cruz’s patented crazy hot streaks in the worst way right now. You know what I’m talking about; where he hits like 8 homers in 10 games or something. That dude needs to eat his Wheaties like NOW!
The team gets a nice 10-game homestand starting tonight, as odds would have it, against some dregs of the American League. Three with the Twins, four with the Rangers, and three more with the Rays. Maybe for that Rays series, the Mariners should bat the bottom of their lineup first, and make sure they take a lot of pitches or foul a lot of pitches off to make sure their Openers are wasted before the top of our lineup comes out the next inning. You think that would happen, if Openers become a thing? Instead of batting at the top of the order, you put your best hitters at 4-5-6? I’m utterly fascinated by this concept, can you tell?