Friday, April 29, 2005

Schedule Stretch From Hell 

So the Mariners get off to a good start on their 2005 Schedule Stretch from Hell.

Here it is, with probable pitchers

4/26-4/28(3) at Texas (won 2 of 3)
4/29-5/1(3) at Oakland (Sele/Moyer/Pineiro vs. Haren/Blanton/Zito - no Harden this time!)
5/2-5/4(3) vs Angels (Franklin/Meche/Sele vs. Washburn/Lackey/Byrd)
5/6-5/8(3) at Boston (Moyer/Pineiro/Franklin vs. Clement/Miller?/Chen) - if Miller isn't healthy, may see John Halama instead.
5/9-5/11(3) at Yankees (Meche/Sele/Moyer vs. Big Unit/Wang/Pavano)
5/13-5/15(3) vs Boston (Pineiro/Franklin/Meche vs. Miller?/Schilling?/Arroyo)
5/16-5/18(3) vs Yankees (Sele/Moyer/Pineiro vs. Brown/Big Unit/Wright?)

All told that's 21 games against 5 of the 7 best teams in the AL and the remaining four teams are the only four that most prognosticators picked to be in the World Series. On top of that, while we and Oakland are facing the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Angels and Rangers will be facing Cleveland and Detroit, so we need a strong showing to keep from losing ground.

I'll be curious to see if the M's do something with their pitching rotation between the first and second meetings with the Red Sox and Yankees, thinking maybe its not a good idea to allow a pitcher to face the same team two games in a row.

On the other hand, we have some mixed results of some of our pitchers versus the Angels, Yankees, and Red Sox. Look at the three year (2002-2005) ERAs of our pitching staff against those three teams:

Player (Yankees | Red Sox | Angels | A's)
Ryan Franklin (5.51 | 5.32 | 2.77 | 3.63)
Gil Meche (2.86 | 4.73 | 7.54 | 3.86)
Jamie Moyer (6.15 | 11.02 | 3.15 | 3.56)
Joel Pineiro (2.95 | 6.95 | 5.34 | 2.23)
Aaron Sele (4.79 | 8.59 | xxx | 2.61)
Ron Villone (11.00 | 1.23 (8IP) | 1.65 | 2.31)

As you can see, Boston presents a challenge to our pitching staff, but perhaps Ron Villone could eat some innings against the Red Sox. Another intriguing option would be to see how one of our rookies (King Felix, Popeye Campillo, Cha Seung Baek) fare, but throwing rookies to the Red Sox and the Yankees may not be in their best interest.

So, if I was Grover, I might try the following.

4/29-5/1(3) at Oakland (Sele/Moyer/Pineiro)
5/2-5/4(3) vs Angels (Franklin/Villone/Moyer)
5/6-5/8(3) at Boston (Meche/Sele/Franklin)
5/9-5/11(3) at Yankees (Pineiro/Moyer/Meche)
5/13-5/15(3) vs Boston (Sele/Franklin/Pineiro)
5/16-5/18(3) vs Yankees (Moyer/Meche/Sele)
then rotaion goes Franklin/Pineiro/Moyer/Meche/Sele

Moyer gets two starts against division rivals and then 2 against the Yankees (and none against Boston). If Moyer gets lit up by Yankees in start one, then Moyer conveniently comes down with a "blister after 5/10 start against Yankees and doesn't pitch again until 5/19 and his start goes to Franklin (sliding up Meche and Sele) or a rookie.
Franklin faces the Angels (2.77) once and the Red Sox (5.32) twice
Meche gets two starts against the Yankees (2.83) and one against the Red Sox (4.73)
Pineiro gets the A's (2.23), Yankees(2.95), then Boston(6.95)
Sele gets Boston twice and the Yankees and Oakland once. If he falters against the A's and Sox, his later starts could be given to Felix, Baek, or Campillo
Villone gets a spot start against the Angels (1.65)

Of course, there are two unorthodox gaps in our best pitchers, with both Moyer and Pineiro getting 7 day rests to allow us to use our lesser pitchers in the right spots, and avoid trouble area for our aces.

And mid-May is a time when Mariner fans fancy turns to Felix. Out of pure selfishness, I hope he is not called up until after his May 12th start in Round Rock, as I have tickets to see him there.

Whatever happens, the next 18 games over 20 days will tell a lot about how the Mariners will fare in 2005.

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