Seattle Mariners: Brandon Maurer Key to Final Oakland A’s Matchup

Jake Roth-USA Today Sports

Last night during the Oakland Atheltics vs. Seattle Mariners game, a few things happened. Jed Lowrie said “Hey! Remember me?!” for about the fifth time, Joe Saunders Joe Saunders’d, Franklin Gutierrez  hit a home run and supported this article and Michael Morse, after reading this article, aimed to disprove it by hitting his third homer of the year (now that’s how you shamelessly plug links).

For a game that ended 6-2 and probably ended past your bedtime, it told us a lot of stuff. It told us that the four prime Oakland outfielders are as scary as something super scary, Lowrie is really good when he’s healthy and that Brendan Ryan is really, really good at defense.

In a week where schedules are more chopped up than cars around Citi Field, these West Coast foes battle for the fourth time in four days — their first day-game — while Oakland tries to salvage a split from new-and-improved Seattle. Today’s key? Rookie Seattle starter Brandon Maurer. And that’s kind of surprising, although not as surprising as the Miami Marlins bringing up Jose Fernandez.

Maurer, 22, has never thrown a pitch above AA where, in 24 starts last year, he had a pedestrian 3.1 BB/9, a pedestrian 8.7 H/9, and a pedestrian 1.35 WHIP; according to MLB.com, he’s only the 10th-best prospect in the Mariners organization. Not the league, just that one organization. Nobody really expected Maurer to be up here so soon.

Considering Maurer’s mediocre control, Oakland’s patience-preaching offense might be problematic. And if someone like Coco Crisp, with his base-stealing genius, is on first base messing with his mind, well, that will only propagate things.

What’s auspicious for Maurer, though, is who he’s facing — not because that guy stinks, because he doesn’t, but because of their similar career paths.

Opposite Maurer, Oakland is sending out 25-year-old A.J. Griffin. The Oakland righty started last year in AA, but bounced his way up to the MLB in 17 starts and finished the year 7-1 in 15 starts with a 3.06 ERA for the Athletics — something that would seem exactly like what Maurer aims to do this season.

Young prospects always have their learning curve when all nine guys in a lineup are like the number-three hitter in lineups they’ve faced their whole lives, but often it takes the league a few games to adjust to the starter. Maybe Maurer’s adjustment period doesn’t start yet because the book on him hasn’t been published yet, and he has a nice start to propel Seattle to 3-1.

In a season where Seattle’s improved lineup is draw —not so much as of yet — today’s pitching matchup could be a preview not only for the rest of this season, but for future seasons.

 

Nick Tom is a new fantasy (and sometimes regular) baseball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @NickTomFB , ‘Like’ him on the Book of Face . Or Plus him (is that what it’s called?) on Google Plus. He’s always messing around on Twitter, so ask him questions and he won’t hesitate to help out with any fantasy crises you’re having.


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