Previewing the Seattle Mariners | The Process Report

Previewing the Seattle Mariners

And on their fifth day off this year the Rays flew to Seattle for a three-game series all so that they can fly back to St. Pete afterwards on their sixth day off. This schedule, man. I’ll never get it. Bitching aside, the Rays have now gone 5-0-1 in their last six series to climb all the way up to, well, they’re still in fourth place. No small thing in the league’s toughest division, but they have managed to close the gap significantly during this stretch. Further help is that the other four teams in the division are beating up on each other so that each win guarantees holding steady with two teams and gaining ground on the others. As such, it will be vital for the Rays to continue to stay hot and take this series against the Mariners.

(All data for last 30 days)

Let’s start with the pitching where the Rays have a marked advantage. The Rays pitchers have found their strikeouts of late after starting the season a little slowly. Add in that the Rays also do a better job of managing contact and you can see why they have such an advantage. The Mariners have dealt with an injury-ravaged staff, no doubt, and that has caused them to dip deep into the pool.

I want to start with total production first, and then we can look to see if there are any big over/under-performers on balls in play. The roll that Archer has been on of late has helped carry him to the top-five amongst all pitchers in xwRAA over the last 30 days. Alex Cobb has also been pretty good, and would just miss out on being the best pitcher on the Mariners, while Erasmo the starter also pops as better than average, and in significantly fewer plate appearances. Tonight’s starter, Jake Odorizzi, is coming off a rough stretch, but one that still sees him getting strikeouts. He’s at his best when he’s limiting walks and drawing soft contact including many fly balls. Neither of which he has done well with, of late. The Rays pen has mostly been fantastic, and is led by Colome, Farquhar and Alvarado. The team has done well to run fresh arms through thanks to necessity. With actual offdays this month you might see these guys avoid the occasional disaster that has suppressed the line for each.

The Mariners have tried just about everything to get some starting pitching thanks to a rash of injuries. James Paxton is now back, and of course still very good, but he started yesterday so the Rays will avoid their best pitcher. Instead they will face Christian Bergman, Sam Gaviglio and Ariel Miranda. Neither of those first two guys strike anybody out, but at least Gaviglio has earned himself some better than average contact against. Bergman really leaves nothing to offer, other than not being Yovani Gallardo, a guy their general manager gave something up to acquire. He fired yet? Ariel Miranda is quite good, though patient batters can wait out the inevitable walk. The Rays don’t match up as well with lefties so that would be my guess as their least likely chance to get a win. Gonna need to beat up on this pen in the first two games to have any chance at the sweep, let alone winning the series.

Focusing on Miranda you can see that his very good results are perfectly in line with expectations, and the same with Gaviglio’s slightly higher, but still very good figures. The bad news is that their best pitchers have all mostly under-performed very solid expectations. Let’s home they wait until next series to get back on track.

Switching over to the bats you can see that these two teams are quite a bit closer with the M’s out-hitting the Rays over the last 30 days. Tampa Bay is still striking out a ton, but they’re also drawing oodles of walks to go with that. They’re also scorching the ball when it’s in play. The Mariners are basically league average on balls in play, but they put more of them out there with nearly a hundred fewer strikeouts. They also walk a good deal of the time, too.

Their big stick is Kyle Seager who is a traditional late starter, and it looks like the clock has hit late o’clock. Cano you know, but Cruz might miss some time this series or at least be severely hampered after taking a pitch off the knuckles yesterday. Ben Gamel has surprised, though has been prone to the strikeout when he hasn’t put it in play. Somehow Guillermo Heredia has been a nearly everyday player on this team, and he hasn’t hit well, at all. Maybe the glove plays well. Gotta be that. Jarrod Dyson is similar, but with the reputation for gold glove defense. Neither of the catchers presents as much of an issue, but that doesn’t mean you can lay it in there. To ┬áZunino, especially.

You can still see the Rays seeing better production on balls in play than you should expect. Perhaps this is a byproduct of the strikeouts, but I’d still expect actual and expected to close the gap going forward. Especially for Dickerson and Rasmus, and probably for Kiermaier, though the speed should bump his expectations upward. On their side you can see that Kyle Seager has underperformed expectations, and Cruz is right there with him. Old friend Taylor Motter has had horrid results that appear undeserved. Dyson and Heredia look like easy outs, and really the Mariners have quite a bit of that in the bottom half of their roster. The top half is obviously excellent.

Now I want to show some of my expectations for the series. We know the lineup for the first game, and will lean on Roster Resource to provide likely lineups for the next games in the series.

Game 1

Basically a coinflip with both teams more likely to score five runs than four. This one might come down to the bullpens, though how the middle of the order performs for each team will be critical.

Game 2

Identical lineups with different pitchers yields similar results. Again, I’d expect this game to go either way, though it should also have a better chance of being a low-scoring affair.

Game 3

Here I see Seattle having a little bigger edge, and should certainly be thought the favorite. Miranda is quite good, and should give the Rays fits. The middle of their lineup is so very good that they can carry a cool rest of lineup by themselves IF the Rays allow that to happen. They will need to be careful with these guys, and absolutely take it out on the rest of the lineup. You can’t walk a top of the order guy tonight.

 

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