clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (62-55) vs. Blue Jays (63-56)

New, 36 comments

The Canadians invade Seattle as the Blue Jays come to town for a crucial three-game series against the Mariners.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Monday, August 11

7:10pm

Blue Jays

RHP Drew Hutchison

Mariners

RHP Felix Hernandez

Tuesday, August 12

7:10pm

Blue Jays

LHP J.A. Happ

Mariners

RHP Chris Young

Wednesday, August 13

7:10pm

Blue Jays

RHP R.A. Dickey

Mariners

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

Mariners

Blue Jays

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

89 (14th in AL)

108 (2nd in AL)

BLUE JAYS

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

20.3 (6th)

-9.8 (9th)

MARINERS

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

100 (5th)

100 (7th)

MARINERS

Bullpen (FIP-)

83 (1st)

105 (13th)

MARINERS

The Mariners wrap up their nine-game homestand with a crucial three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. In a summer full of significant games, these next three stand out. Each game is becoming more and more critical and, with all of the Wild Card competitors bunched together, games against teams like the Blue Jays become extremely important.

The Blue Jays are built to score runs and score runs they have. Their home park, Rogers Centre, inflates offense by four percent but even adjusting for park effects, they're still second in the AL in weighted runs created. So, in these next three games, we'll find out what happens when a premiere offense meets historic run prevention. Or we would find out if the Blue Jays' lineup hadn't been wrecked by injuries -- Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie will miss this series and Adam Lind could be activated from the disabled list during this series.

The Mariners trot out their top three starters in this series, starting with a King's Court tonight. Michael Saunders should be returning to the lineup within the next few days and a corresponding move would need to be made off the 25-man roster. Reports are that James Jones will take Erasmo Ramirez's spot on the roster until Saunders is ready. The Mariners won't need a fifth starter until the last weekend in August if Lloyd McClendon manages his rotation correctly -- there is an off day each week for the next three weeks.

The Blue Jays:

At one point this season, the Blue Jays were leading the wide open AL East by six games but they've fallen back into the pack chasing the second Wild Card spot. August has not been good month for the Blue Jays even though they just wrapped up a series win against the Tigers over the weekend. They loved playing the Tigers so much that they decided to play an entire extra game and then tacked on another inning for good measure. Their game on Sunday went nineteen innings! The team arrived in Seattle at 10:30pm after a long cross-country flight. These guys will be exhausted.

Key Players

RF Jose Bautista - Since 2010, Jose Bautista has accumulated 174 home runs, the most in the majors during that time period, and his 156 wRC+ ranks fourth overall. Those totals are even more impressive when you consider the injuries that have forced him to miss over one hundred games in the past two years. This year, his .217 isolated power would be a five-year low for him but his overall line hasn't been affected because his batting average on balls in play is a robust .307 and he continues to take so many walks, driving his OBP over .400.

SS Jose Reyes - It seems like injuries are the name of the game when talking about the Blue Jays. Jose Reyes was traded to the Blue Jays just a year after signing an impressive six-year contract worth over $100 million in 2012. Sadly, various injuries have forced him to miss over 30% of the Blue Jays' games in the year and a half since joining the team. When healthy, he brings an above average offensive profile built on speed. Most of his value is tied to his bat as he's been rated as just an average shortstop by advanced defensive metrics.

IF Munenori Kawasaki - I think we all know who is really holding this team together -- Munenori Kawasaki. It's rare to see a ball player who plays with such unreserved joy for the game these days. Even though his on-field play is severely lacking, his off-field antics and charisma have made him a cult hero in Toronto. Of all the recent former Mariners, I miss watching Muni the most. I only wish he had stayed in Seattle longer so that the Munenori Kawasaki Fan Club could have a larger chapter.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Drew Hutchison

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

131 1/3

21.3%

7.5%

8.8%

35.1%

4.39

3.88

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-seam

Slider

Changeup

93.1 mph;

51.6%

92.5 mph;

14.6%

86.1 mph;

21.2%

86.1 mph;

12.6%

Just 23-years-old and already a survivor of Tommy John surgery, Drew Hutchison has shown great promise for the Blue Jays this year. He's striking out almost a batter an inning and has limited his walks but he's shown a bit of a home run problem. His batted ball profile skews pretty heavily towards fly balls and he's been punished at home because of it -- batters are slugging .511 against him at home pushing his FIP at home up to 5.22. Safeco Field plays right into his strengths so the Mariners could have a hard time against him.

LHP J.A. Happ

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

103 1/3

20.0%

8.8%

9.6%

40.8%

4.18

4.11

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-seam

Slider

Curveball

Changeup

92.7 mph;

60.5%

92.6 mph;

12.6%

82.9 mph;

7.4%

77.5 mph;

10.3%

85.0 mph;

9.3%

J.A. Happ has filled the back-end of the rotation for three teams in his career, the Phillies, the Astros, and now the Blue Jays. His fastballs are his only plus pitches and he uses them to get strikeouts at an above average clip. However, walks and home runs have severely limited his upside so we find him here as the Blue Jays' fifth starter. His offspeed pitches are all below average so he doesn't feature pronounced lefty/righty splits.

RHP R.A. Dickey

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

158

19.9%

8.3%

11.6%

42.3%

3.99

4.29

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-seam

Knuckleball

83.0 mph;

6.6%

82.5 mph;

4.4%

76.9 mph;

88.9%

When I started researching which pitches R.A. Dickey threw, I was surprised by the amount of disparate information I was finding based on the different pitch classification systems. They all agreed on the use of his knuckleball, I think he's the only one of his kind left in the majors. As for his secondary pitches, I found data for a two-seamer, a changeup, and, oddly, an eephus (PITCHf/x has him throwing an eephus which I assumed were misclassified knuckleballs). Ultimately I went with the data at Brooks Baseball since they seem to be the most consistent from year to year. After his Cy Young year in 2012, Dickey has had a hard time with his home park during his stint with the Blue Jays. Like with Hutchison, Safeco Field should be a boon for Dickey.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Athletics

72-45

.615

-

L-W-W-W-L

Angels

68-49

.581

4.0

L-W-L-L-L

Mariners

62-55

.530

10.0

W-L-W-W-W

Astros

49-69

.415

23.5

L-W-W-L-L

Rangers

46-71

.393

26.0

W-L-L-W-W

The A's took two of three from the Twins over the weekend; they start a four-game series against the red hot Royals today. The Angels have cooled off in the last week, losing three of four against the Dodgers before losing two of three against the Red Sox over the weekend. They face the Phillies to start the week and should right themselves against a weak NL team.

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Angels

68-49

.581

+4.5

L-W-L-L-L

Royals

63-53

.543

-

W-W-W-W-W

Mariners

62-55

.530

1.5

W-L-W-W-W

Blue Jays

63-56

.529

1.5

W-W-L-L-W

Yankees

61-56

.521

2.5

L-L-W-W-W

The Royals have won seven straight and have vaulted themselves into the second Wild Card spot. In an odd turn, we should be rooting for the A's against the Royals, the Mariners could use all the help they can get this week. The Yankees continue to hang around the back of the Wild Card race; they play three against the Orioles to start this week.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league tonight, and you can win up to $2,000. Join today!