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Seattle Mariners Series Preview: Their drought is *almost* over

The clinch should come sometime next week for the team with the longest drought in North American sports.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001. It’s not for lack of winning. Sure they’ve had some bad seasons, but they’ve also won 90 or more games three times since their last postseason trip and didn’t make it. They’ve finished above .500 eight times since their last postseason trip and didn’t make it. And now, there’s a chance that they’ll finish as the sixth seed in the American League, which means it will have taken a new collective bargaining agreement to add an extra playoff team for them to make it. But I don’t think they’ll argue with the games they’ll get to play. This is a good team. They’re led by their star rookie, Julio Rodriguez, but they have a very nice offensive supporting cast with guys like Ty France, Cal Raleigh and others. They haven’t scored runs the way you’d expect from their power, but they don’t strike out a ton, so they might be able to slug their way to a series win once they get to the playoffs. Their real strength is in their pitching. Logan Gilbert has emerged as a top-flight pitcher this year. They signed Robbie Ray and while he hasn’t been great like last year, hes’ been good. George Kirby is a rookie who looks like an ace. And they traded for Luis Castillo. Add in a strong bullpen and a solid defense and this is a team that could be a handful in a short series.

Royals vs. Mariners Matchup Stats

Category Royals Mariners
Category Royals Mariners
Winning % .407 .550
H2H Wins 0 3
Team wRC+ 92 105
Team xFIP 4.43 3.92
Run Differential -160 71
Highest fWAR Brady Singer, 2.7 Julio Rodriguez, 5.0

Mariners Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Julio Rodriguez CF 549 .280 .342 .502 7.3% 26.0% 144 5.0
Mitch Haniger RF 198 .230 .283 .377 6.6% 25.3% 91 0.1
Carlos Santana 1B 459 .197 .312 .384 13.9% 17.0% 102 0.8
Ty France 3B 561 .270 .334 .440 5.7% 15.2% 125 2.2
Cal Raleigh C 385 .203 .278 .465 9.1% 28.8% 113 3.6
Jarred Kelenic LF 127 .138 .205 .310 7.9% 37.0% 48 -0.1
Jesse Winker DH 526 .216 .338 .339 15.4% 19.0% 105 0.3
Adam Frazier 2B 568 .238 .303 .310 7.9% 11.8% 82 1.3
J.P. Crawford SS 557 .250 .337 .349 10.4% 12.7% 105 2.1

Mariners Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Curt Casali C 162 .206 .321 .324 14.2% 29.6% 90 0.3
Luis Torrens C/1B 144 .216 .264 .276 5.6% 31.3% 59 -0.6
Abraham Toro INF 325 .177 .231 .313 6.5% 17.8% 56 -0.7
Sam Haggarty INF/OF 178 .261 .322 .422 6.7% 27.5% 115 1.3
Dylan Moore INF/OF 221 .215 .361 .395 13.6% 30.3% 126 1.9

Mariners Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Paul Sewald 61 59.1 4 4 29.8% 7.1% 2.58 3.54 0.7
Andres Muñoz 60 60.2 2 5 39.5% 6.4% 2.52 2.00 1.7
Erik Swanson 52 48.1 2 1 33.9% 4.8% 1.49 2.72 1.4

Royals vs. Mariners Projected Pitching Matchups

September 23 - LHP Marco Gonzales vs. RHP Brady Singer, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Marco Gonzales 29 166.0 10 14 13.0% 6.6% 4.01 4.93 -0.3
Brady Singer 25 140.2 9 4 23.9% 5.6% 3.07 3.31 2.7

It’s kind of hard to believe that Marco Gonzales is only 30 years old because it feels like we’ve been seeing him forever. And he did come up in 2014 with the Cardinals as a 22-year old, so I guess it has been awhile. But he found a home in Seattle after a 2017 trade and he’s been generally solid for them since, though he’s struggled this season with his strikeout rate plummeting and his hits allowed jumping from the last couple of years. He is your classic “crafty” lefty with a fastball that sits in the upper-80s, a changeup that can be very good and a cutter to go along with a curve. His changeup has gotten hit this year, though, and his cutter too. I’m not really sure why he’s throwing the cutter as much as he is given the success hitters are having against it. The changeup is what helps him against righties, but lefties have a .362 wOBA against him and he’s also had a rough go of things away from Seattle, so the Royals with a lefty-heavy lineup at times and being decidedly not in Seattle could provide him some issues.

Career vs. KC: 6 GS, 35.0 IP, 4-1, 4.11 ERA

With probably three starts to go, Brady Singer has eclipsed his big league innings career-high and when you factor in his AAA innings, he’s eclipsed his professional career-high as well. And he just keeps pitching well. It looked like there was a bit of a blip for him with a couple of not so great starts, but he’s thrown 13 innings in his last two starts with no runs allowed on nine hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks. The whiffs are a bit down. The sinker is riding a little bit. So yeah, it seems like he’s a bit tired, but he’s figuring out a way to pitch through that and hopefully for him can finish the season as strong as he’s looked over his last two starts. The Mariners are a team that doesn’t swing the bat a ton relative to the league. They don’t chase, they don’t whiff, they just don’t swing. That could be a recipe for success against Singer with all his called strikes, if he has his sinker working. So that’ll be very interesting.

Career vs. SEA: 2 G, 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 0-0, 1.35 ERA

September 24 - RHP Logan Gilbert vs. LHP Kris Bubic, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Logan Gilbert 30 172.2 13 6 23.4% 6.4% 3.13 3.72 3.2
Kris Bubic 26 119.1 2 13 17.6% 10.7% 5.81 4.63 0.2

Gilbert was the 14th pick in the 2018 draft out of Stetson University, and I wonder what would have happened had Singer gone at 14 ad Gilbert was available to the Royals at 18. It appears they’re in similar spots now as Gilbert isn’t striking out quite as many batters as he did in his rookie year, but has done a nice job with limiting base runners and providing quality innings for Seattle in his second (and first full) big league season. He comes at hitters with a strong fastball that gets some crazy extension. His actual velocity averages 96.1 MPH, but his perceived velocity on the pitch is 98 MPH, which is a huge jump. He also has a very good slider, a curve that hasn’t been as good as last year and a changeup that has honestly been the difference for him from last season. He’s held opponents to five singles in 39 at bats on the changeup after giving up a .682 SLG on it last year. And that changeup is part of the reason why lefties are hitting .197/.261/.296 against him but righties are at .281/.326/.460. That’s something he’ll need to work on, but I hope the Royals stack the lineup as best they can with some righties to see if they can take advantage of that.

Career vs. KC: 2 GS, 11.0 IP, 1-0, 4.91 ERA

It’s been just a year to forget in general for Kris Bubic. He hasn’t reached his professional career-high in innings pitched just yet, but he’s at 133 for the season, which is just 16.1 off what he threw in 2019 in the minors. It’s also three more than last year and 83 more than in 2020, so it’s certainly possible that after his strong stretch of 13 starts, he’s just started to wear down some. But on the whole, the numbers are just bad. I think the ERA is probably a bit inflated from what it should be, but it’s hard to look at his season as anything resembling a success. And in his last outing, he couldn’t get out of the third. It wasn’t all his fault, I don’t think, but he certainly didn’t help himself much either. The question for Bubic this offseason is going to be if he can figure out how to implement the slider we heard so much about this spring because we need it and how to maintain that 13-game stretch where he had a 3.59 ERA and 3.99 FIP in 72.2 innings. If he can even be 90 percent of that, the Royals have a rotation piece. Even if he can be the guy he was in 2020 and 2021, a league average starter for cheap is a great thing to have. But he has to be better than this.

Career vs. SEA: 3 GS, 12.2 IP, 1-0, 7.82 ERA

September 25 - RHP Luis Castillo vs. RHP Zack Greinke, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Luis Castillo 23 139.0 7 6 27.1% 7.2% 2.85 3.24 3.5
Zack Greinke 24 124.0 4 9 13.1% 4.7% 4.21 4.47 1.5

The Mariners landed probably the best starting pitcher on the trade market when they acquired Castillo at the deadline and he’s been everything they could hope he would be. He was great for the Reds to start the year and while he has a comparable ERA for Seattle, he’s struck out more batters and walked fewer, so I think you can argue he’s been even better. And they control him through next year. They paid a high price, but I think it was worth it. Castillo features a four-seamer and a sinker that both come in around 97 MPH. He’s in direct contrast to Gilbert because his extension is one of the shortest I’ve ever seen at 5.6 feet. The four-seamer gets whiffs, the sinker doesn’t, but they’re both good pitches. And his changeup, which has always been his bread and butter is still sitting there as a pitch he’s throwing less this season. The results have been a bit down, but it’s still excellent as well. Oh yeah, and he also has a slider that he gets whiffs on 35 percent of swings on. He’s good. If you’re looking for a split for something to exploit on Castillo, he has struggled a bit the third time through the order, which is no surprise. But that’s the time to pounce.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 16.1 IP, 0-1, 2.20 ERA

This could be Zack Greinke’s final start at Kauffman Stadium in his career. It also might not be, but you never know. I think Greinke has been just fine this season. You can argue about paying $13 million for a league average starter, but he’s done his thing where he doesn’t walk anyone and he gets through his five innings generally with his team in the game. Yes, he gives up a lot of contact which can lead to hits, but I’ve enjoyed watching him this season. He’s a different pitcher than he once was, of course, but he is still generally effective, especially at Kauffman Stadium where he has a 2.32 ERA. He’ll still have a start or two more this season on the road, but if this is the last time to see him as a Royal at home, I’d recommend checking it out for one of the greats.

Career vs. SEA: 18 G, 16 GS, 107.1 IP, 8-2, 2.35 ERA

Royals vs. Mariners Prediction

The Royals shoved aside a freefalling Twins team to win their first series since early September and sweep their first series of the year, but the Mariners are a team on a mission. That said, they aren’t playing especially great baseball right now, getting swept by the Angels before going to Oakland and losing a couple to a very bad A’s team. I think the Royals might be able to snag one win, but you just feel like this M’s team is going to start to get it going and secure that playoff spot and I have a feeling it’ll be in this series.


Can the Royals help delay the Mariners celebration?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Yep, they’ll make them sweat a lot with a sweep.
    (5 votes)
  • 21%
    They’ll win the series and at least make them contemplate life.
    (18 votes)
  • 57%
    Only a little as the Royals only snag one win.
    (47 votes)
  • 14%
    Not at all, the Mariners sweep.
    (12 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now