Saturday, June 6, 2009

O's-A's, I Thought Oakland Had A Bad Offense?

The O's got beaten pretty thoroughly yesterday (9-1) as the dropped their third game in a row. Jason Berken will try to get the Birds back on the right track against 21 year-old fellow rookie Trevor Cahill.

Here's Berken's movement chart from his last start against the Tigers (7 IP, 1 R, but took the loss) courtesy of FangGraphs:

Berken's fastball has been about average, coming in at 92 mph and showing only slightly below average movement in on right-handed batters (and exactly average vertical movement). He also has a two-seamer at 90.7 mph, that sinks more than the four-seamer but less than the average two-seamer. The change-up is also very average, when it comes to both velocity (82.5 mph vs. 82.7 mph as the average) and movement (-6.7 vs. -6.4 horizontally, and 5.3 vs. 5.0 vertically). He throws a couple of different breaking-balls at very similar speeds but with different movement. The slider is at 81.1 mph with above-average break (4.2 vs. 2.4 as the average horizontally, so it moves more away from righties than average, and 0.2 vs. 2.2 vertically, so it drops more than average). That might explain why the slider has been his most effective pitches thus far going by linear weights (2.86 runs above average per 100 sliders thrown: the fastball is -0.56 runs, the change-up is also good at 1.47 runs, and the curve is something he may want to throw a little less of at -1.53 runs), and Jason did throw more of them in his second start than in his first (as a percentage of pitches thrown). The curveball comes in at only slightly slower than the slider (79.3 mph) and with more movement, but that movement is actually below average for a hook (4.7 vs. 5.5 horizontally, so it doesn't move away from righties as much as an average curve does, and -4.7 vs. -5.5 vertically, so it doesn't drop as much).

All of this is in a very small sample of two games, but Berken still looks like he has decent stuff. He won't be able to survive with a 1:1 strike-out to walk ratio though. He needs to get the walks down a little (3.75 BB/9 so far) and get the K's way up (also 3.75 K/9) to be successful, though I'm almost as excited about him as I am about Bergesen (who has a pretty good sinker - and I'll look at his Pitch/FX eventually - but is still giving up 1.16 HR/9; when he leaves the sinker up in the zone it can get hit a pretty long way).

Cahill actually works with a sinker himself, and he's giving up even more home runs (1.34 HR/9) than Bergesen, while also not striking anyone out (about a 4 K/9 for both) and walking more guys too (2.5 BB/9 for Berg, 3.9 BB/9 for Cahill). It may be wishful thinking given their play of late, but the O's should be able to put some runs on the board if they're patient at the plate.

In other news, Cesar Izturis is out after having just had an appendectomy. Sounds like he's going on the DL, with Oscar Salazar being called up. Thankfully the Birds traded Hayden Penn (7.77 ERA, 4.53 tRA out of the pen) to Florida for Robert Andino (.239/.280/.261, .275 wOBA, +2.8 UZR at short this year for the O's).

The line-up has also been shuffled around, with something I've been harping about - flipping Nick Markakis and Adam Jones - being part of that. This allows Luke Scott and his .449 wOBA to move up into the clean-up spot with Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora sliding down (since Jones will now break up the lefties a little). Felix Pie and Gregg Zaun will also be in there, giving Reimold and Wieters a day off. Now if only they'd rest Markakis and Roberts some time, we'd be in business.

Top 1:
  • Roberts flies out to center.
  • Markakis singles down the third-base line.
  • Nasty sinker down and in gets Jones swinging. Cahill's throwing it 92-94 instead of the 88-91 I was expecting.
  • Luke Scott chases a change-up way outside for the second K of the inning.
Bottom 1:
  • Orlando Cabrera lines the first pitch he sees into the right-field corner for a double.
  • Adam Kennedy flies out to right, with Cabrera moving to third despite Nick's strong throw.
  • Jack Cust grounds out to first, scoring a run.
  • Matt Holliday flies out to the warning track in right to end the inning.
Top 2:
  • The A's don't really shift against Huff, and he grounds out to third-base. That might have been an infield single if the fielders were moved around.
  • Mora grounds out to short.
  • Zaun grounds out to second.
Bottom 2:
  • Jason Giambi grounds out to second.
  • Kurt Suzuki gets jammed and grounds out to third.
  • Aaron Cunningham flies out to right.
Top 3:
  • Felix Pie fouls a pitch straight down, and the ball bounces back up and hits him in the throat. Looks like he's OK, though he waves at a change-up way outside for Cahill's third strike-out.
  • Andino grounds out to short.
  • Roberts flies out to center.
Bottom 3:
  • Looks like that ball hurt Pie worse than it appeared, as Nolan Reimold takes his place in left. He handles the flyball by Jack Hannahan.
  • Rajai Davis takes a high change-up (or a hanging curveball) into the left-center gap for a double.
  • Cabrera bounces out to first.
  • Kennedy hits a ball to center that falls in front of Adam Jones. Then it bounces passed him allowing Kennedy to go to second, with Davis having already scored to make it 2-0.
  • Cust draws a walk.
  • Holliday walks on four pitches, and that loads the bases with two down.
  • Giambi will clear them with a double down the right-field line. 5-0, A's.
  • Suzuki pops out.
Top 4:
  • Markakis grounds out to second.
  • Jones doubles into the left-field corner.
  • High fastball gets Scott swinging.
  • Huff grounds out to first.
Bottom 4:
  • Cunningham doubles to left-center.
  • Hannahan grounds to second, with Cunningham moving to third with one out.
  • Davis draws a walk.
  • Cabrera doubles off the wall in left to score a couple. 7-0, A's. They're just knocking the crap out of O's starters these last couple games.
  • Kennedy doubles to left-center to make it 8-0. That's it for Berken, whose once shiny 2.25 ERA is up to 7.04.
  • On the bright side, we get to see some more of David Hernandez. He'll take the mound, with the O's having burned much of their bullpen yesterday.
  • Cust grounds out to first.
  • Holliday singles through the left side to drice in the A's ninth run of the game. Roberts was actually shaded towards second-base, and if he was playing straight away it would have been right to him.
  • Giambi flies out to left, with Reimold running a long way to get to that one in foul territory.
Top 5:
  • Mora serves a single to right-field.
  • Zaun flies out to left.
  • Reimold, coming up for the first time today, grounds into a double play.
Bottom 5:
  • Hernandez gives up a lead-off single, but K's a pair and gets a groundout to end the inning.
Think I'm more or less done paying a lot of attention to this one.

Hernandez pitched very well out of the pen (2.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) and Nolan Reimold went deep (three-run homer), but it wasn't enough to get the O's all the way back. The lose 9-4 - another game over before it really even started.

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