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Series Preview: Mariners (59-54) vs. White Sox (55-60)

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The White Sox come to town for a four-game, weekend series against the Mariners.

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Brian Kersey

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Thursday, August 7

7:10pm

White Sox

RHP Scott Carroll

Mariners

LHP Roenis Elias

Friday, August 8

7:10pm

White Sox

LHP Jose Quintana

Mariners

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

Saturday, August 9

6:10pm

White Sox

RHP Hector Noesi

Mariners

LHP James Paxton

Sunday, August 10

1:10pm

White Sox

LHP John Danks

Mariners

TBD

Mariners

White Sox

Edge

Batting (wRAA)

88 (15th in AL)

99 (7th in AL)

WHITE SOX

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

24.3 (4th)

-17.8 (11th)

MARINERS

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

99 (5th)

103 (9th)

MARINERS

Bullpen (ERA-)

83 (1st)

110 (15th)

MARINERS

After sweeping the two-game series against the Braves, the Mariners continue their homestand with a four-game series against the White Sox. These two teams matched up in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend and the Mariners lost two of three. At that point in the season, the Mariners were nine games over .500 and held just a one game lead for the second Wild Card spot over the Orioles and the Blue Jays.

The White Sox are in the midst of an identity crisis. They're a mediocre team across the board with no one component standing out above the rest. They have All-Star performers like Chris Sale and Jose Abreu but the lack of even league average players around them makes this team average at best.

At the start of the week, for just a single day, the Mariners didn't have the worst offense in the American League. That honor went to the Texas Rangers until they exploded for sixteen runs against these White Sox on Tuesday. The more things change... The Mariners starter on Sunday was still unannounced at publication. I'm expecting Taijuan Walker to be called up to make the start but we could also see another bullpen day with Tom Wilhelmsen getting another start.

The White Sox:

The White Sox come into Seattle having lost four of their last five and have allowed a whopping forty-six runs in those games including two sixteen run blowouts. They're nine games behind in the AL Central and six games back in the Wild Card race. Miraculously, the Mariners will miss Chris Sale in this series as he pitched against Texas yesterday. That means the Mariners face a legit Jose Quintana and whatever warm bodies that are filling out the back of the White Sox rotation.

Key Players

1B Jose Abreu - The rookie from Cuba has taken the American League by storm and leads the league with 31 home runs and is second in the league with a .415 wOBA. He missed some time earlier this season with a foot injury and, since he's returned, all he's done is hit .344/.402/.647 in fifty-five games. This guy is the real deal and the White Sox have him signed to an extremely team-friendly contract through 2019. If the team ever decides to rebuild, Abreu will be the piece that the rest of the team will be built around.

LHP Jose Quintana - I mentioned before that we're thankfully missing Chris Sale this series so I won't write about him except to say that he could give Felix a run for his money in the Cy Young vote. Instead, I'll talk about Jose Quintana, one of the most underrated starters in the American League. Over the past two years, Quintana has accumulated 7.5 WAR, good for 9th in the AL in that time period. This year, he's been even better. His strikeout rate has jumped to over twenty-one percent and his FIP has dropped to 2.83, 8th in the AL.

SS Alexei Ramirez - Outside of Abreu, Sale, and Quintana there isn't anyone else on the White Sox that strikes me as a key contributor so I'll just pick out someone who's having an interesting season. Alexei Ramirez started out hot this season and was sporting a .329/.361/.479 line through the end of May and was even selected to his first All-Star team. But then, the wheels fell off in June; July wasn't much better. On top of that, the defensive metrics are rating him as a league average shortstop this year, a far cry from his elite defensive performances earlier in his career.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Scott Carroll

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

86 2/3

11.8%

7.6%

9.2%

53.9%

4.36

4.43

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-seam

Cutter

Slider

Curveball

Changeup

90.6 mph;

16.0%

90.6 mph;

44.3%

87.9 mph;

7.5%

83.1 mph;

1.9%

77.1 mph;

14.1%

83.1 mph;

16.2%

I'll be honest, this is the first time I've ever heard Scott Carroll's name. A quick search on Wikipedia tells me that he was a third round draft pick in 2007 by the Reds so he has a bit of a prospect pedigree but he was also released by the Reds after failing to impress in Triple-A twice. He doesn't get many strikeouts but he gets by because batters tend to pound the ball into the ground against him. He leans on his sinker to get those grounders and uses the rest of his pitches pretty sparingly. He'll use his curve and change against lefties and use his cutter and slider against righties.

LHP Jose Quintana

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

142 1/3

21.3%

7.2%

4.7%

47.0%

3.04

2.83

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-seam

Cutter

Curveball

Changeup

92.4 mph;

53.8%

92.1 mph;

6.0%

90.7 mph;

2.9%

80.7 mph;

23.3%

86.5 mph;

13.6%

I already talked about how underrated Quintana is in the AL so now I want to point out how lucky he's been this year. If you look at the table above, you'll see that his home run rate is a very low 4.7%. His batted ball profile doesn't look like he should be limiting home runs at an extreme rate -- his groundball rate is fairly pedestrian and he doesn't get an extreme amount of infield flies -- and, before this season, his career home run rate was right around league average. His xFIP, which substitutes a league average home run rate, is 3.42, much higher than his current 2.83 FIP. I'd expect some regression in this area.

RHP Hector Noesi

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

114

16.8%

8.8%

12.0%

38.7%

4.97

4.81

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-seam

Slider

Curveball

Changeup

92.2 mph;

43.8%

92.8 mph;

14.3%

87.7 mph;

14.5%

79.7 mph;

7.6%

86.4 mph;

19.6%

Ah yes, the former Mariner comes back to town to terrorize fans everywhere. After spending parts of three seasons with the Mariners, Hector Noesi has caught on with the White Sox and has made eighteen starts at the back of their rotation. We're all pretty familiar with the stuff Noesi brings to the mound -- or lack thereof -- and nothing much has changed. One thing that has changed since joining the White Sox is his abandonment of his two-seamer in favor of his changeup. That pitch has actually turned into a decent offering as it's his most valuable pitch according to his weighted pitch values. He's been throwing it in any count and to both lefties and righties.

LHP John Danks

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

140 2/3

15.8%

8.8%

12.2%

40.0%

4.93

5.20

Pitches

Four-seam

Two-Seam

Cutter

Curveball

Changeup

88.3 mph;

29.7%

87.9 mph;

15.0%

83.8 mph;

16.8%

73.2 mph;

7.6%

79.8 mph;

30.6%

John Danks was a young, promising pitcher before he injured his shoulder in 2011. Since then, he's been a replacement-level starter and hasn't shown any of the promise he had before. He isn't striking out enough batters to be effective and his stuff just isn't good enough to get by. He actually ran a reverse left/right split last year as his changeup is his best offering and he throws it to righties more often. This year, his left/right split has normalized and he's still being torched by all batters.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Athletics

69-44

.611

-

L-W-W-L-W

Angels

67-45

.598

1.5

L-L-W-W-L

Mariners

59-54

.522

10.0

W-W-L-W-L

Astros

47-67

.412

22.5

L-L-W-W-W

Rangers

45-69

.395

24.5

W-W-L-L-L

The Athletics just took two of three from the Rays and play the Twins over the weekend. The Angels are in the midst of a four-game series against the Dodgers and have lost two of three so far. They play the Red Sox over the weekend. The Astros continue their Jekyll and Hyde season, losing two in a row to the hapless Phillies after winning three straight against the Blue Jays. And Texas just beat up on the very same White Sox team that comes to town this weekend.

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Angels

67-45

.598

+7.0

L-L-W-W-L

Blue Jays

61-54

.530

-

W-L-L-L-L

Royals

59-53

.527

0.5

W-W-W-L-W

Yankees

59-54

.522

1.0

W-L-W-W-W

Mariners

59-54

.522

1.0

W-W-L-W-L

The Blue Jays snapped a four-game losing streak with a win yesterday. They wrap up their series against the Orioles today and face the Tigers over the weekend. It seems like all the other Wild Card contenders are playing well right now. The Royals are on a hot streak, winning three straight and six of their last eight. They finish up a series in Arizona and then take on the Giants over the weekend at home. The Yankees have taken two of three against the Tigers at home and finish up the series today; they'll face the Indians over the weekend. I'd expect to see a new team holding the second Wild Card spot by the end of the weekend.

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