Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 5/23/13

  • May 23, 2013

The Angels played their only scheduled 4PM starting time home game on Wednesday. I wish there were more of these, as one of better informational angles you’ll find came into play.

I first became aware a few years ago of how difficult hitting can be at Anaheim in the late afternoon. The combination of the shadows and glare from the sun makes it extremely difficult for the hitters to pick up the baseball out of the pitcher’s hand. Back in 2010, Jerry Hairston got beaned and was out of action for a month on a pitch he claims he never saw. Last season, following one of these games, Albert Pujols commented that while the pitchers still had to execute, the task for the guys with the bats was pretty damn tough.

There have been nine of these start time games at this ballpark since 2010, and with yesterday’s result, all but one have stayed Under the number. The only one that slipped Over was a bit of a fluke, as then right fielder Bobby Abreu lost sight of a ninth inning fly ball and that eventually led to a 6-5 final. But 8-1 is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Small sample? Yeah sure, it’s only nine games. But my educated guess is that this trend has probably been successful for quite some time, and the comments we’ve read from the players speaks volumes about how tough their task is here under the conditions.

The bad news is there are no more 4PM games scheduled this season at Anaheim. But there might be some 5PM starts on Sundays if the Halos are in the race and ESPN decides to make them their featured game. That’s just as good, because the worst time to hit appears to be between roughly 5-6 PM. So file this info away someplace and look to play Under the Total next time this scenario shows up.

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Okay Wednesday for me overall, and I’ll be on a pair of Thursday games. Those can be purchased via Paypal by clicking the tab to the right of the page, and you can also try one full week if you prefer. For info and rates on lengthier subscriptions, including a guarantee, feel free to drop me a line at cokin @cox.net.

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05/23 04:05 PM  MLB   (905) BALTIMORE ORIOLES VS (906) TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Take: (905) BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Brandon Morrow will be on the mound for the Blue Jays as they open an important weekend set with the Orioles. The Birds will counter with highly touted rookie Kevin Gausman, who will make his big league debut tonight.

Toronto is a huge disappointment thus far, but it’s still only May, and they’re just one hot streak away from getting back into the chase. The Jays are off a series win against Tampa Bay, so they’re hoping to keep a little positive flow going here. As for the Orioles, they’re hanging in there in the rugged AL East, and closed to within three games of the Yankees with the Wednesday night win.

Morrow has had a very bad time of it for Toronto. There have been some back issues for Morrow, and perhaps that’s at the root of his problems. Whatever the reason, he has not been very good, and the Morrow peripherals indicate that the poor start is no fluke. This is a guy who has averaged more than one strikeout per inning for his career. But this season he’s getting less than seven K’s for every nine innings pitched, and there’s no question in my mind that’s of substantial significance. Morrow is also getting fewer ground balls, he’s allowing an inflated fly ball percentage, and his swinging strike rate is a career low. Those are all negative stats for a guy who is clearly a power pitcher. I’d rather be fading than taking Morrow right now.

Kevin Gausman has been living up to the hype at AA Bowie, despite just a 2-4 record. Gausman has displayed exceptional control with only five BB’s in 46 innings, and three of those came in a game where he was pulled in the fifth innings. Gausman is off his best game of the season, a dominating six-inning showing with ten K’s.

My guess is that Gausman will be on a fairly strict pitch count here, probably in the 80-85 range. He will certainly be tested by a few of the big bats on Toronto’s lineup, but Gausman will also have the advantage of being an unknown live quantity to those same hitters.

I’m generally a fan of taking first time starters more often than not, and I really like the fact that Gausman is not simply being called up to make an emergency start. He has a legit chance to stick with the big club if he shows well. There’s not much doubt as to which is the better team right now, and given Morrow’s problems, the visitors might also have the better pitcher going here. I’ll cast my lot with the Orioles to grab the series opener.