Series Preview: Boston Red Sox @ Seattle Mariners

Seattle: 16-19
Boston: 21-14


-37.5 (30th) 18.3 (7th) BOS
8.8 (6th) -12.2 (26th) SEA
11.7 (6th) -9.2 (22nd) SEA
-9.1 (25th) 11.5 (4th) BOS
-26.1 8.4 Boston

Top of the morning to y'all, it looks like we have a doozy of a mis-match awaiting us this weekend. After peaking with the dramatic multi comeback win over Oakland on May 3rd, the Mariners have won just once in ten attempts, including five losses to divisional leader Texas.

Suffice to say the Ms are reeling at the moment and they come back to Seattle to face the Red Sox for three, the Angels for four and the Giants for three before heading off to Oakland for three and Anaheim for three to close out the month of May. That is a sixteen game stretch (10% of the season) that involves ten games against AL West opponents and the conclusion of which will have seen the Mariners play just over a quarter of their games for 2009.  We'll have a much clearer picture of the road ahead on June 1st.

This is an interesting match up between wildly different unit strengths. The Mariners strength so far has been in the defense and in the rotation, the two biggest weaknesses for the Red Sox. And vice versa with Boston's strengths in offense and the bullpen. Unfortunately for us as you will see below, the rotational alignment is unlikely to highlight our to-date strength in that department, further worsening our odds. The Mariners are throwing three guys who have made a combined six starts for us this season and the Red Sox counter with the three starters they have who have posted above average tRAs this year.



Game 1: Chris Jakubauskas vs. Jon Lester*
Game 2: Garrett Olson* vs. Josh Beckett
Game 3: Jason Vargas* vs. Justin Masterson

Jakubauskas's batted ball profile is still quite good, posting well below average line drive and well above average ground ball rates. The problem is that with the three walk-zero strikeout performance in his last outing, Jakubauskas has just nine strikeouts to seven walks over 21 innings. Still, if he maintained everything that he's done to date and just watched his HR/FB rate regress to normal his tRA would be about 5.35 against a so far league average of 5.16. For a guy who is not designed to be anything more than your 6th or 7th starter, that's pretty good.

Jon Lester has seen his ratio of missed bats shoot skyward from 7.7% last year to 11.6% so far in 2009. His batted ball profile is roughly the same, a little worse on the whole, but nothing too major. He's been looking terrible for two main reasons: a .393 BABIP and a whopping 12.1% of balls in the air going over the fence. Those are likely to come back down to Earth as the season progresses. The missed bats though, and the corresponding rise in strikeout rate (it has jumped nine points) may be for real. In which case, watch out.

Josh Beckett's walk rate has exploded this year going from a mid 4% in 2007 and 2008 to over 10% this season, the highest rate of his career. A five point increase in his line drive rate also is not looking pretty though his ERA is still artificially inflated by his BABIP at .381. Beckett's swinging strike ratio is at the lowest point of his career as well. It's a mix of legitimately terrifying signs and bad luck that a start against the Mariners offense should do much to salve.

Justin Masterson misses an average number of bats and generates an average number of strikeouts, but he has control problems leading to mediocre walk rate. He does however do a great job of keeping the ball on the ground and oh shit not this again. Boned.



Matt Commemorative Ale
Hair of the Dog Brewing Company. Portland, OR

Holy crap was this amazing. I am pleased to have some bottles squirreled away for aging, but if you missed out, do not despair just yet! Bottleworks, celebrating the re-opening of their tap lines at the bottle shop plans to have HotD Matt on tap today starting at 11am along with New Belgium Bottleworks 10 (a sour), Russian River Pliny the Younger (an IPA), Russian River Consecration (a sour) and Elysian Bitch from a Barrel with Brett (a sour).

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