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Series Preview: Mariners (59-68) at White Sox (59-66)

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The Mariners begin a ten-game road trip with four on the South Side of Chicago.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Thursday, August 27

5:10 pm

Mariners

LHP Roenis Elias

White Sox

LHP Carlos Rodon

Friday, August 28

5:10 pm

Mariners

RHP Taijuan Walker

White Sox

LHP John Danks

Saturday, August 29

4:10 pm

Mariners

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

White Sox

RHP Jeff Samardzija

Sunday, August 30

11:10 am

Mariners

LHP Mike Montgomery

White Sox

LHP Jose Quintana

Mariners

White Sox

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

99 (9th in AL)

89 (15th in AL)

Mariners

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-20.5 (12th)

-49.7 (15th)

Mariners

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

108 (10th)

88 (1st)

White Sox

Bullpen (FIP-)

108 (14th)

93 (7th)

White Sox

Didn't the Mariners just play these guys? In an odd, pseudo home-and-home series, the Mariners will face the White Sox three games after hosting them in Seattle. Roenis Elias rejoins the rotation in place of Vidal Nuno but the first two pitching matchups are the same as they were a few days ago. Luckily, the Mariners avoid running into Chris Sale again. Since facing the Mariners last, the White Sox position players have added 0.4 fWAR to their season total, bringing it over 2.0!

The White Sox:

The White Sox have fallen a half-game behind both the Tigers and the Indians in the race for the AL Central cellar. In the three game interlude between playing in Seattle and Chicago, the White Sox lost two of three to the Red Sox.

Key Players

1B Jose Abreu Jose Abreu’s successful sophomore year has gone a bit under the radar. When compared to his incredible rookie year, it’s certainly a step back, but he’s continued to hit over thirty percent better than league average and is on pace to accumulate 4.0 fWAR. He isn’t hitting for as much power this year and he’s being more selective, cutting his swing rate in the zone by 10 points. He is making more contact outside the zone which is an odd combination with his newfound selectiveness. Until he begins to attack pitches in the zone again, he’ll probably be simply good rather than great.

CF Adam Eaton It’s been a tale of two halves for Adam Eaton this year. He got off to a horrid start and didn’t turn it around until June and July. In those months, he hit seven home runs which is more than double his previous career high for a single year in the majors. With that newfound power, he’s also striking out much more often which has affected his ability to get on base as a leadoff hitter.

SS Alexei RamirezAfter amassing 16.6 fWAR during the previous five years, Alexei Ramirez has struggled through the worst season of his career this year. He’s been the worst shortstop in the AL, accumulating -0.7 fWAR for the White Sox. His BABIP is a career low .250 and that’s taken a toll on his overall offensive line. He’s always been an aggressive hitter but his in and out of zone contact rates are trending the wrong way—he’s making more contact outside the strike zone while missing more pitches inside the strike zone. His fielding ability has also deteriorated to below average levels.

Probable Pitchers

LHP Carlos Rodon

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

106 2/3

24.1%

12.3%

11.4%

46.5%

4.22

3.86

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

94.3 mph;

33.0%

93.7 mph;

26.9%

85.0 mph;

8.9%

87.6 mph;

31.1%

Rodon PA

It’s been a quick trip through the White Sox organization to the major leagues for Carlos Rodon. He was the third overall pick in 2014 and made his debut less than a year later. He possesses a devastating slider and a decent fastball. Those two pitches form the basis of his arsenal but he needed an offspeed pitch to compliment them. He worked on a changeup in spring training but didn’t feel comfortable with the pitch until June. Now he’s throwing it around 10% of the time and it’s helped him increase his strikeout rate to over 20%. In his last start, Rodon allowed three runs in seven innings against the Mariners. He struck out eight, walked four, and gave up six hits and was in line for the loss until his offense bailed him out.

LHP John Danks

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

139 2/3

16.1%

7.2%

9.9%

38.2%

4.90

4.41

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

89.8 mph;

38.1%

89.9 mph;

8.5%

86.2 mph;

13.8%

81.2 mph;

28.6%

75.9 mph;

10.9%

Danks_PA

John Danks is enjoying his best season since his shoulder injury in 2012. He was once a decent mid-rotation starter, accumulating almost 15 fWAR between 2008 and 2011. After returning from his injury, he’s been much less effective. His strikeout rate has fallen below average and batters have taken advantage of his mediocre stuff. His changeup is his best pitch but it’s done very little to mitigate the damage right-handed batters have done—righties are sporting a .363 wOBA against him this year. The Mariners destroyed Danks in his last start, scoring seven runs on eight hits and three walks before chasing him in the sixth.

RHP Jeff Samardzija

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

176 1/3

18.0%

5.0%

10.6%

40.4%

4.75

4.06

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Splitter

Slider

94.5 mph;

19.1%

95.1 mph;

22.3%

93.2 mph;

22.8%

85.4 mph;

12.7%

85.6 mph;

23.0%

Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija looked like he was on track to become the next pitcher to sign a nine-figure contract this offseason. Unfortunately, he’s suffered through the worst year of his career since becoming a full-time starter in 2012. He’s lost five points off his strikeout rate and it now sits well below 20%. More concerning is his batted ball profile; his groundball rate has dropped by 10 points. More fly balls has led to more dingers, exacerbating a problem he already had. He’s throwing his cutter more often at the expense of his sinker which could explain much of the shift in batted balls. The drop in strikeout rate seems to be linked to the ineffectiveness of his splitter. He was able to induce a huge amount of whiffs with that pitch until this year.

LHP Jose Quintana

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

166

20.2%

4.9%

8.2%

47.6%

3.63

3.14

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

92.1 mph;

38.1%

92.1 mph;

18.5%

90.6 mph;

4.5%

86.4 mph;

10.3%

80.7 mph;

28.3%

Quintana

One of the most underrated pitchers in the American League has found a way to be even better this year. Jose Quintana doesn’t post extreme strikeout numbers but he does a very good job of limiting walks and induces ground balls at an above average rate. Those two skills have helped him post a FIP around 3.00 for the second consecutive season. He’s steadily increased the usage of his curveball over the years and it’s become his best secondary pitch. Quintana’s fastball has always been his best pitch and he’s commanding it better than ever before, cutting his walk rate to under five percent.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Astros

71-57

.555

-

W-W-L-W-W

Rangers

64-61

.512

5.5

W-W-W-L-L

Angels

64-62

.508

6.0

L-L-L-W-L

Mariners

59-68

.465

11.5

L-W-L-W-W

Athletics

55-73

.430

16.0

L-W-W-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Yankees

69-57

.548

+4.0

W-L-W-L-L

Twins

65-61

.516

-

W-W-W-W-W

Rangers

64-61

.512

0.5

W-W-W-L-L

Angels

64-62

.508

1.0

L-L-L-W-L

Orioles

63-63

.500

2.0

L-L-L-L-W

The Twins have inserted themselves back into the playoff picture with a six-game winning streak. They swept the Orioles last weekend and are on the verge of sweeping the Rays. After wrapping up that current series today, they travel to Houston to face the Astros. Yankees just hosted the ‘Stros and lost two of three and have fallen two games behind the Jays. The Rangers’ hot streak was quelled by Toronto; they wrap up that series today and host the Orioles over the weekend.