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Royals series preview: The Seattle Mariners

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We miss you, Jarrod.

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MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners
Miss you
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

A world apart from the Kansas City Royals—whose 41-40 record distinguishes them as a team of winners—the Seattle Mariners sit a game under .500 with a 42-43 record. Losers. Playing in the American League West, the Mariners are 15.0 games back in their division. Their Pythagorean W-L record suggests a .500 ball club thanks to a 0 run differential. Their 3rd Order Winning Percentage concurs with such an assessment of their play thus far. Suffering the loss of Drew Smyly and persevering much of the season without large chunks of their pitching staff—James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, and Hisashi Iwakuma have each done stints on the disabled list with the latter two combining to make just 13 starts—the Mariners have been beset by injuries much of the season. It’s probably a minor miracle that they’ve managed a .500 record thus far.

Despite the Mariners having virtually zero chance at winning their division—thanks, Houston—they trail the Royals by just a game in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, so this series has implications on the hazy, premature playoff picture.

Here are the game times and pitching matchups:

  • Monday, July 3, 9:10 PM CDT - Ian Kennedy versus Andrew Moore
  • Tuesday, July 4, 5:40 PM CDT - Danny Duffy (L) versus Felix Hernandez
  • Wednesday, July 5, 9:10 PM CDT - Jason Vargas (L) versus Ariel Miranda (L)

Royals at Mariners pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Ian Kennedy 14 74.1 62 20.3 33 10.8 4.72 5.65 5.39 5.01 -0.1 0.7
Andrew Moore 1 7.0 4 15.4 0 0.0 3.86 3.86 5.31 5.13 0.1 0.1
Danny Duffy (L) 11 68.2 54 18.8 25 8.7 3.54 3.55 4.84 4.82 1.5 1.9
Felix Hernandez 7 38.2 33 19.6 7 4.2 4.66 5.16 3.66 3.92 0.1 0.4
Jason Vargas (L) 16 101.1 74 18.3 24 5.9 2.22 3.48 4.72 4.62 2.3 4.4
Ariel Miranda (L) 17 99.0 74 18.3 35 8.7 3.82 5.13 5.31 5.02 0.5 2.2

A second-round draft pick in 2015, Andrew Moore made it to The Show exactly two years after making his professional debut in advanced A-Ball for the Everett AquaSox. Heading into this season, the two-time All-American from Oregon State succeeded primarily on the back his fastball and changeup, able to locate both pitches well and change levels with the fastball, which allows the changeup to play up to fringe-plus. This year has seen him introduce a slider to his repertoire, a reportedly better offering than his loopy curve which had been his third (underwhelming offering). If his usage in his first major-league start back on June 22 was any indication, the slider is a pitch that he quite likes, as he used it more than any of his secondary offerings against the Tigers in his debut. A walk-averse strike thrower who doesn’t throw particularly hard, he seems the ideal candidate for a Cy Moore outing because these are the Royals: Killers of Giants, Elevators of the Mundane.

Tuesday sees the reintroduction of Danny Duffy to the Royals’ thinning rotation. Duffy, who is the cat’s pajamas, will face Felix Hernandez, who will be making his third start since a right oblique strain sidelined him for two months. Fortunately for the Royals, this is present-day King Felix—more King Lear than King Henry V. His K- and BB-rates have rebounded a bit from last year’s nadir, but they’re still a FAR cry from the levels that enabled him to be a perennial Cy Young candidate. Hernandez’s gains made in both the strikeout and walk departments in his abbreviated 2017 have been more than offset by home-run rates more than twice as bad as his career average by either measure (HR/9 or HR/FB%).

As for Wednesday’s starter, Ariel Miranda—begat by Wade Miley—has benefited from the front office’s offseason moves that turned their outfield into a place where flyballs went to die. Yielding 49.3% flyballs, Miranda’s BABIP is a sterling (if lucky by circumstance) .218. While that figure is dying to regress to the mean, the Mariners outfield defense is the best unit in baseball by both Defensive Runs Saved—27, six runs better than next-best Boston—and Ultimate Zone Rating—16.7 UZR (3.6 better than the Yankees) and 11.1 UZR/150 (0.8 better than New York), so Miranda’s fall back to earth may not be as dramatic as might otherwise be expected.

Seattle Mariners position players

Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
JARROD DYSON (L) CF 273 4 44 21 19 .253 .331 .369 .306 92 2.0 2.1
Robinson Canó (L) 2B 317 17 42 60 1 .284 .341 .505 .352 124 2.0 2.2
Ben Gamel (L) LF 257 4 42 27 2 .336 .395 .472 .372 137 2.0 1.9
Jean Segura SS 243 5 36 25 8 .338 .384 .462 .364 131 1.6 1.7
Mitch Haniger RF 181 6 33 22 3 .285 .400 .477 .380 143 1.4 2.0
Nelson Cruz DH 319 14 39 59 1 .287 .370 .502 .368 134 1.3 1.5
Kyle Seager (L) 3B 340 10 32 45 1 .257 .326 .421 .318 100 1.3 0.8
Guillermo Heredia OF 222 5 28 13 1 .282 .347 .376 .320 101 1.2 1.8
Mike Zunino C 205 11 24 35 0 .232 .302 .470 .327 107 1.0 0.8
Carlos Ruiz C 83 1 9 7 0 .200 .305 .329 .284 77 0.0 0.0
Boog Powell (L) LF 39 0 6 2 0 .219 .342 .219 .271 68 0.0 -0.1
Taylor Motter Util 223 7 23 23 9 .207 .274 .365 .276 72 0.0 0.1
Danny Valencia 1B 296 8 32 40 1 .270 .331 .416 .322 103 -0.2 1.0

Atop the team leaderboard (per fWAR) sits a familiar name. Thanks to the third-best outfield defense in baseball per DRS and fifth-best per UZR, Dyson has inarguably been one of the best Mariners at the midway point of the season. His 92 wRC+ is very much in line with the levels of offensive production that he put up in Kansas City despite playing virtually every day, doing much to silence the inane criticism that everyday playing time would expose him. His 5.6 BaseRuns tie him for the third-best mark in baseball, trailing just Billy Hamilton and Xander Bogaerts. One could even argue that Dyson’s been unlucky, posting just a .288 BABIP, .022 points below his career mark. With Dyson playing in 76 of the Mariners’ 83 games thus far, it looks like Dyson is a full-time player—one on pace for a 4.0 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR campaign. It seems like the Royals could have used that kind of production over the past three or four years while retreads and also-rans like Alex Rios, Paulo Orlando, and Nori Aoki got huge chunks of playing time over Dyson.

There are other players on the Mariners, too.

Poll

How will the Royals fare in Seattle?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Royals sweep
    (81 votes)
  • 51%
    Royals take two of three
    (108 votes)
  • 7%
    Mariners take two of three
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Mariners sweep
    (4 votes)
208 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Sunday, July 2.

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