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Seattle Mariners series preview: A slew of southpaws

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Sea Men come to Kauffman.

Mama, I'm coming home.
Mama, I'm coming home.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners come to town in a virtually identical boat in which the reigning World Champion Kansas City Royals find themselves. Both teams are just barely above .500 with red-hot teams (the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland baseball team, respectively) running away with their division. Each team has been beset by injuries which have exposed the lack of depth in these problem areas. Without Felix Hernandez and the recently injured Taijuan Walker, the Mariners' ugly rotation is only negligibly less bad than the Royals'. Of course that's after losing their top two starters. The Royals have no such excuse.

*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference

Pitching match-ups

Game One - Thursday, 7:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
James Paxton (L) 7 40.1 43 13 4.24 2.98 3.55 3.77 1.4 -0.3
Danny Duffy (L) 26 75.1 87 16 3.11 3.60 3.59 3.14 1.3 1.8

The odd man out in the rotation coming out of Spring Training as he was abysmal in the Cactus League, Paxton toiled in Triple-A Tacoma for ten starts before rejoining the club when Hernandez went to the DL with a strained right calf. Though his ERA does not suggest that Paxton has pitched well, he has largely been undone by a .411 BABIP and a low 64.8 LOB%. Given the fact that he's taking care of business in the strikeout and walk departments, it stands to reason that his peripherals are more representative of how he has pitched. Paxton gets by almost entirely on his fastball and cutter, which he throws 64.6% and 19.3% of the time. He sprinkles in a handful of knuckle-curves and change-ups too, though he hasn't needed them much.

Duffy still looks like New Duffy. Furrrrr sure.

Game Two - Friday, 7:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Hisashi Iwakuma 17 107.2 77 24 4.43 4.67 4.65 4.55 0.9 1.2
Yordano Ventura 16 87.1 64 39 5.26 5.12 5.05 5.03 0.3 -0.1

While his velocity hasn't shown a drastic drop, Iwakuma's strikeout rate has dropped almost 5.0% from 21.5% last year and 20.5% on his career to 16.9% this year. With a simultaneous slight right (~1.0%) in his walk rates, Iwakuma has understandably seen his peripherals spike. His FIP, SIERA, and xFIP are all roughly a run higher than last year. What Seattle can take solace in is if Iwakuma throws 54.1 IP from here to the end of the season, his club option with a $1M buyout vests at $14M for next year.

Your fire update: it might be getting thrown, but it's not getting thrown well.

Game Three - Saturday, 3:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Wade Miley (L) 15 87.1 61 26 5.36 5.01 4.60 4.68 0.2 0.0
Edinson Volquez 18 105.1 82 40 4.87 4.10 4.41 4.50 1.4 0.1

There really isn't a way to spin Wade Miley's season other than to say he has not pitched particularly well. Eight of his 15 starts have seen the southpaw give up four or more runs. He has made it through the seventh (or more) three times. He yielded no runs thrice. Of course one of those three times in each of the latter scenarios was against the Royals back on April 30, when he threw a five-hit complete game shutout. The Royals should be able to get to Miley. History has shown that this might not happen.

By virtually every measure, Edinson Volquez has pitched better than Wade Miley.

Game Four - Sunday, 1:15 PM CDT

Pitcher G IP K BB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Mike Montgomery (L) 30 50.1 44 16 2.15 2.94 3.54 3.31 0.8 1.4
TBD









The former supplemental first round pick of the Kansas City Royals Mike Montgomery steps into the injured Taijuan Walker's spot in the rotation just in time to make his first start of the season at Kauffman Stadium. After a tumultuous time as a prospect highlighted by a falling out over long-toss and an unsuccessful forcing of a spike-curve upon the then exceptionally promising lefty, this start can serve as a bit of comeuppance for the organization that tried to force a rigid pitcher development plan on him. Though he has pitched exclusively out of the pen for the Mariners this year (and can be expected to be working with low pitch count on account of not being stretched out), Royals fans may remember Montgomery's fifth major-league start, a ten-strikeout, no-walk, five-hit complete game shutout against the Royals last June. The southpaw has been solid as the long man out of the pen for Seattle, though the expectation that he should come back to earth as his stuff won't get to play up out of the pen is a reasonable one. The pitch classification systems at FanGraphs differ on how often he is throwing which pitches (and usage as a starter can be expected to be different), but he throws a four-seamer in the low-to-mid 90s with a curve, change, and cutter that he mixes in.

This TBD guy better be good.

The Batsmen

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Leonys Martin (L) CF 272 11 33 26 9 .247 .315 .416 .316 99 1.7 1.4
Seth Smith (L) LF 256 11 37 41 0 .277 .367 .459 .358 127 0.9 0.4
Robinson Cano (L) 2B 380 20 60 56 0 .308 .366 .550 .387 147 3.5 3.7
Nelson Cruz RF 361 22 52 57 0 .277 .363 .538 .378 141 1.9 2.5
Kyle Seager (L) 3B 361 17 51 56 1 .277 .360 .525 .369 135 2.9 3.5
Dae-ho Lee 1B 183 12 21 37 0 .291 .333 .517 .360 129 1.1 1.0
Adam Lind (L) DH 231 12 26 36 0 .237 .268 .438 .296 85 -0.5 -0.2
Chris Iannetta C 251 7 19 21 0 .229 .320 .372 .305 91 0.9 0.6
Ketel Marte (S) SS 276 1 35 16 8 .271 .296 .359 .283 76 0.1 0.4
Bench Pos PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Franklin Gutierrez OF 155 9 22 25 0 .246 .323 .478 .342 116 0.7 0.9
Jesus Sucre C - - - - - - - - - - - -
Shawn O'Malley (S) OF 73 0 5 5 2 .221 .274 .309 .257 59 -0.3 -0.3
Daniel Robertson OF 2 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 0.0 -0.0

Stats through Tuesday, July 5

Though their raw numbers are tamped down a bit by the park in which they play half their games, the Mariners' offense has been one of the best in the league. Their wOBA is .331, good for the seventh-best mark in the game. Their wRC+, which takes park factors into account, is 109, the second-best in baseball. Negating some of the value of the position players efforts with the bat is the fact that they're one of the worst base-running teams in the game (only the St. Louis Cardinals are worse per FanGraphs Base Running metric) and a poor defensive team (fifth-worst by DRS, 11th-worst by UZR).

The key to the offense this season has been Robinson Cano, who has nearly matched his 2015 home run total and has been worth 1.4 fWAR more than he was all of last season. Kyle Seager has also stepped up his offensive game, and Dae-Ho Lee has been solid in limited playing time.

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