clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (14-17) vs. Padres (17-16)

New, 83 comments

The Mariners continue their nine-game homestand with two against their “natural” rivals, the Padres.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Tuesday, May 12

7:10 pm

Padres

RHP Ian Kennedy

Mariners

LHP James Paxton

Wednesday, May 13

7:10 pm

Padres

RHP James Shields

Mariners

RHP Taijuan Walker

Mariners

Padres

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

95 (10th in AL)

106 (3rd in NL)

Padres

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-15.0 (13th)

-9.4 (15th)

Padres

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

103 (8th)

114 (11th)

Mariners

Bullpen (FIP-)

105 (13th)

116 (14th)

Mariners

There is nothing natural about the rivalry that the Mariners and Padres share. It was born of a need to match up two teams when interleague play was introduced back in 1997. Yes, both teams share a Spring Training facility and they’re generally on the same coast but the two cities are separated by over 1,000 miles!

The Padres spent this offseason completely overturning their roster. A two week period in December saw 23 players exchanged in four separate trades. Despite all their new acquisitions, many were questioning whether or not the team was good enough to contend. They’re certainly a different team now. The Padres were last in the league in batting last year and are now in the top 10 in the Majors this year. That offensive output has come at a cost, their defense is the worst in the National League which has major implications on their pitching staff.

The Padres:

The Padres sit in second place in the NL West behind the Dodgers and their 17-16 record closely matches their +3 run differential. They most recently split a four game series with the Diamondbacks in Arizona and they’re at the end of a nine game road trip.

Key Players

LF Justin Upton Justin Upton was one of the big name acquisitions the Padres made this offseason. There was some concern that moving from Turner Field in Atlanta to PetCo Park in San Diego would seriously affect his offensive output in a contract year. He’s responded to those concerns by posting the best wRC+ of his career. He’s reduced his strikeout rate by three points and is hitting more fly balls than ever before, a rate closer to his breakout year in 2011.

RF Matt Kemp Another big name acquisition this offseason, Matt Kemp hasn’t exactly returned to his former self. He hasn’t seen any of his power return and his walk rate has completely cratered. Kemp has lowered his strikeout rate and has stolen five bases in defiance of his arthritic hips. Defensively, he’s been one of the worst outfielders in the Majors this year per UZR (only Wil Myers has been worse). Considering his health history and the state of his hips, he should be a first baseman or designated hitter at this point in his career but the Padres keep sending him out to right field day after day.

CF Wil Myers – The third big name acquisition this offseason, Wil Myers has begun to show why he was considered an elite hitting prospect. After dealing with two broken wrists last year, he’s finally healthy and his offensive numbers back that up. He’s hitting for more power while also cutting his strikeout rate. Unfortunately, he’s been playing out of position in center field for the Padres after being pushed out of the corner outfield spots by Upton and Kemp. He’s been one of the worst defensive players according to both UZR and DRS and that’s seriously affected his overall value.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Ian Kennedy

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

19 2/3

18.3%

6.1%

27.8%

46.6%

5.03

5.85

Pitches

Four-seam

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

93.0 mph;

70.3%

86.5 mph;

4.8%

85.0 mph;

12.8%

79.3 mph;

12.1%

Kennedy_PAgraph

Last year was a banner year for Ian Kennedy. He posted a career best 24.5% strikeout rate and matched his career best 6.1% walk rate. Much of that was due to a mechanical tweak that allowed him to add velocity to a number of his pitches. His 10% whiff rate ranked 22nd in the Majors and we can see that ability born out in his individual pitch metrics. Kennedy gets an above average amount of whiffs with his two fastballs and his changeup. He mainly relies on his four-seam fastball, throwing it more than 60% of the time. His curveball gained three inches of vertical drop last year, possibly as a result of his new mechanics, and he threw it much more often as well.

RHP James Shields

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

42 1/3

30.4%

6.6%

25.0%

42.6%

4.25

5.00

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

92.8 mph;

32.5%

92.3 mph;

8.4%

87.5 mph;

18.7%

85.6 mph;

19.3%

79.6 mph;

21.1%

Shields_PAgraph

James Shields was another big name piece the Padres acquired this offseason, signing him to a four-year, $75 million deal. He’s returned the favor by posting the highest strikeout rate of his career and the second highest strikeout rate in the Majors this year. Despite all those strikeouts, Shields has been burned by the homer early this year. He’s already given up 11 home runs in just 42 innings and his FIP has suffered which has led to an interesting dichotomy: he ranks in the bottom 15 in FIP but in the top 10 in xFIP. Shields was once known for his devastating changeup but he’s now throwing it at the lowest rate in his career. In its place, he’s throwing his knuckle-curve much more often and it’s helped him keep batters off-balance.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Astros

20-12

.625

-

L-W-L-W-L

Angels

15-17

.469

5.0

W-L-W-L-W

Mariners

14-17

.452

5.5

L-L-W-W-W

Rangers

14-18

.438

6.0

W-L-L-W-W

Athletics

12-22

.353

9.0

L-L-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Tigers

19-13

.594

+1.0

L-W-W-L-L

Twins

18-14

.563

-

W-W-W-W-L

Rays

17-16

.515

1.5

L-W-W-L-L

Blue Jays

16-17

.485

2.5

W-W-W-L-L

Red Sox

15-17

.469

3.0

L-L-L-W-W

The Astros and the Angels split their four-game series over the weekend allowing the Mariners to gain some ground. Both teams play NL West opponents to start the week, the Astros take on the Giants and the Angels will face the Rockies. The Rangers continue to stick around in the standings, splitting their series with the Rays over the weekend and beating the Royals last night. The Athletics continue to fall apart as they lost another extra inning game last night to the Red Sox.