Seattle Mariners vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Series Preview (6/25-6/26)

suck it nerds - USA TODAY Sports

Mariners! Pirates! 2 games, surrounded by off days. I don't even what

Date Time Venue Probable Pitchers
6/25 7:10 pm Safeco Field Jeff Locke vs. Joe Saunders
6/26 12:40 pm
Safeco Field Jeanmar Gomez vs. Felix Hernandez

Interleague scheduling is still weird. The Mariners face off against the Pirates today for another two game series, their second of the season (they split the first in May). The M's bring Joe Saunders tonight and Felix Hernandez tomorrow, who's forced to pitch in yet another day game. This is a nice breather for the team before the All-Star break, with a day off yesterday and another one on Thursday, all at home. I cannot remember the last time the Mariners got two of four days off at home. Maybe it's never happened. This has been a bizarre year for scheduling, but this is one oddity the M's players will surely appreciate.

The Pirates roll into town at 46-30, safely on their way to their first winning season since Sid Bream destroyed their franchise with that iconic slide in the 1992 NLCS. The Pirates have made steady progress the past three seasons and have finally broken through this year on the backs of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and a resurgence from Russell Martin, of all people. All three are on pace for +5 fWAR. Then, there's Gary Sheffield's client.

Jason Grilli is having an absolutely ridiculous year that's gone under the radar.

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP xFIP fWAR Agent
Jason Grilli 15.06 1.82 0.26 1.82 0.77 1.74 1.8 Gary Sheffield

We know where he gets his power. Sheff. Grilli is on pace for nearly 4 fWAR, which is completely absurd. No reliever has gone over 4 fWAR in a decade, and the last player to do it was Eric Gagne in 2003. Now this year, there's two on pace to do it - Grilli and Jesse Crain.

The Mariner and Pirate pitching staffs have similar pitching peripherals, with one key difference.

Mariners 4.09 3.87 3.7 6.3
Pirates 3.24 3.76 3.78 5.5

ERA. Jeff Locke's at the front of that discrepancy.

Jeff Locke takes the mound tonight in the midst of a hilarious season. Locke's ERA is 2.01, but his xFIP is 4.04, his LOB % is an absurdly high 85.6% (#1 in the majors), and his BABIP is .231, #2 in the bigs as well. He also walks a lot of batters, 3.93 BB/9. Regression is coming for Jeff Locke like it's coming for Jeremy Bonderman, but he's managed to succeed by keeping the ball on the ground and stranding runners. There's very little logic or reason to justifying what Jeff Locke has been. Sometimes, players just are, and usually things will start to look normal again. For the Pirates sake, I hope he does, because there's hints of another 2nd half regression here from their staff, though it seems like their first winning season in two decades is safe with a 16 game cushion. Either way, Locke will probably look to continue his good fortune tonight.

Follow along with the series here and at Bucs Dugout.

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