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Series Preview: Seattle Mariners @ Texas Rangers

Seattle: 16-16
Texas: 17-14


-27.4 (28th) 12.7 (10th) TEX
8.8 (6th) 9.5 (3rd) TEX
14.1 (5th) -19.8 (28th) SEA
-5.0 (22nd) -15.8 (30th) SEA
-9.5 -13.4 Seattle

Entering the series a 1.5 games back, this is a big chance for the Mariners to wipe away the failure of last week and climb their way back into the playoff discussion. Getting swept here would be disastrous.

The Mariners went from 6.2 runs on the positive side of average to 9.5 runs below in their three game set in Minnesota. Most of that damage was done in the horrendous blow out game that cost us over 12 runs. All four categories dropped in value including the latest defensive update which has another stellar drop from the fabulous Yuniesky Betancourt. The good news is that our four pillars of Gutierrez, Chavez, Beltre and Ichiro are all still rating highly and even Wladimir Balentien is showing off a good arm to pair with somewhat less offensive route running over last year.

Speaking of defense, take a look at the Rangers turnaround. Last year they ranked dead last in UZR at -51.7 runs and were 28th in UZR/150. They're over a 60 run improvement already this season and that's a big reason why they are where they are. I have some big doubts that they will hold onto that defensive value though as right now it has been built upon the likes of Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Chris Davis, three people who were all sizable negative defenders in the past. Michael Young probably isn't going to be this bad at third base all year, but the buoy from him seems nowhere near enough to counter balance the likely sink from the other members on the field. When that happens, expect the Rangers' staff ERA to trend toward their horrid tRA.



Game 1: Jason Vargas* vs. Scott Feldman
Game 2: Jarrod Washburn* vs. Brandon McCarthy
Game 3: Felix Hernandez vs. Matt Harrison*

Vargas and Washburn in Texas? Woo-boy! The good news for them is that being left-handed might help them neutralize Chris Davis, Hank Blalock and Josh Hamilton which would be a positive step toward trying to contain Texas' potent offense. There's still good righties though and overall Texas has posted nearly identical offensive lines against left and right-handed pitchers with less power against southpaws but a better batting average.

Feldman isn't a strikeout pitcher or a control pitcher, but he has been a ground ball pitcher so far this year, much improved over his last year batted ball profile. Helping him out greatly is also the zero home runs allowed and .216 BABIP.

McCarthy is a righty that misses about an average number of bats while displaying mediocre control. He also yields a lot of fly balls and line drives, not the best idea in the launching pad of Arlington. Seven home runs allowed already in just 31 innings illutrastes the type of damage that can be done.

There is a lot of talk lately about Matt Harrison making some adjustments in his bullpen sessions and having that turn him around over his last two starts. Hopefully everyone here is skeptical of those sorts of small sample quick fixes and lo and behold, it is justified. Harrison's last two starts have been legitimately better, results wise than his first three. Eight strikeouts and just one walk over 14 innings pitched. But here comes the red flags. 211 pitches over those 14 innings, 5.7% swinging strike rate and just 63% strikes. His batted ball profile is nearly even as well. That's not outstanding. A quick check of the opposing team and... well hey! Both games came against the White Sox, the 5th worst offense in baseball.

Matt Harrison may well have figured something out, but if he has, it has not yet shown up in the actual meaningful results and that's the difference between actual numerical pitching analysis and simply looking at ERA/K/BB and swallowing sound bytes.



Divine Reserve series
Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Houston, TX

"Our Divine Reserve is a series of single batch beers, each brewed with a completely different recipe. The batches are identified by the number on the neck label."

Saint Arnold has made seven brews in this series in styles including barley wine, scotch ale, imperial stout, weizen bock, quadruple and a double IPA. All of them are big brews and surprisingly, not just because it's a Texan brewery but also because of the total variety of genre, all are done well.