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Series Preview: Mariners (3-6) at Yankees (4-4)

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The Mariners kick off their first long road trip of the year with a three-game series in the Bronx.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Friday, April 15

4:05 pm

Mariners

RHP Nathan Karns

Yankees

RHP Luis Severino

Saturday, April 16

10:05 am

Mariners

RHP Felix Hernandez

Yankees

LHP CC Sabathia

Sunday, April 17

10:05 am

Mariners

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

Yankees

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Mariners (2015)

Yankees (2015)

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

101 (5th in AL)

103 (4th in AL)

Yankees

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-23.6 (13th)

-15.9 (12th)

Yankees

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

106 (11th)

97 (5th)

Yankees

Bullpen (FIP-)

103 (10th)

92 (7th)

Yankees

The Mariners were able to salvage the last game of their opening homestand. After a needed day off, they head out on their first big road trip of the year—a nine-game tour beginning in New York. Hopefully getting out of Safeco Field will give the offense enough of a spark to get going.

The Yankees had an uncharacteristic offseason. Their major acquisitions were via trade and they notably didn’t sign any major league free agents. This aging roster made it into the Wild Card game last year and they’re hoping that they can squeeze enough production out of their sluggers to make it back there again.

The Yankees:

The Yankees began the season with a promising series against the Astros, taking two of three at home. A brief road trip through Detroit and Toronto sent them back to .500. Looking at the core of their roster, the age of the players they’re counting on really stands out. But the average age of the Yankees’ roster falls right in the middle of the pack at 29 years old. Guess which team has the oldest average player age. Your Seattle Mariners.

Key Players

DH Alex Rodriguez After more than a year away from baseball, Alex Rodriguez returned to the game with a bang. He launched 33 home runs, posted one of the highest walk rates of his career, and accumulated 2.7 fWAR as a full-time designated hitter. All this at the ripe old age of 40. The end of his career is on the horizon and he can’t continue to play at such a high level, but as long as he rarely sees the field, he should be healthy enough to be an above average hitter through the end of his contract in 2017.

1B Mark Teixeira Another aging slugger who had a resurgent performance in 2015. In just 111 games, Mark Teixeira launched 31 home runs, a pace that would have put him over 40 dingers in a full year. He was also able to cut his strikeout rate by three points, pushing it below 20%. He turned 36 just a few days ago but it doesn’t look like his advanced age is slowing him down—he’s already hit three homers this year.

2B Starlin Castro Starlin Castro was squeezed out of a position in Chicago and traded to the Yankees this offseason. His performance has oscillated between very good and very bad and much of his success seems to be tied to his batting average on balls in play. His two below average offensive years saw his BABIP fall below .300, his ground ball rate rise above 50%, and a deteriorating walk rate. The Yankees are also hoping that a move to second base will help him recover some of the defensive value he had lost as a shortstop.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Luis Severino (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

62 1/3

22.0%

8.6%

17.3%

50.3%

2.89

4.37

Pitches

Four-seam

Changeup

Slider

95.8 mph;

51.4%

88.6 mph;

14.6%

89.6 mph;

34.1%

Severino PA

Luis Severino quickly moved through the Yankees organization and made his major league debut as a 21-year-old last year. Blessed with an incredible fastball with great velocity and a good amount of "rise" to it, he’s able to get away with just a three-pitch repertoire because of it. A great strikeout-to-walk ratio helped him outperform a nasty home run rate in 11 starts down the stretch. He’s able to generate enough groundballs with his arsenal that the dinger problem should correct itself with better luck. The Yankees will be cautious with his usage because he has the potential to be one of the best young pitchers in the game.

LHP CC Sabathia (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

167 1/3

18.9%

6.9%

16.6%

45.9%

4.73

4.68

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

91.2 mph;

28.3%

90.5 mph;

30.2%

84.5 mph;

18.8%

79.8 mph;

22.2%

Sabathia PA

Long gone are the days where you could consider CC Sabathia one of the best pitchers in baseball. In his sixteenth year in the big leagues, he’s just hoping to hold onto the last spot in the Yankees rotation for the majority of the year. After a serious knee injury cut his season short in 2014, he came back to post an average year for the Yankees last year. His pitch arsenal has mostly deteriorated except for his excellent sinker. He still generates a hefty amount of whiffs with the pitch. In his first start this year, he didn’t throw a single four-seam fastball, swapping in a cutter instead. With his deteriorating velocity, we’ll see if this adjustment can help him stay effective in the twilight of his long career.

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

154

22.8%

4.4%

16.9%

47.0%

3.51

3.98

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Splitter

Slider

Curveball

92.7 mph;

18.7%

91.6 mph;

13.7%

89.7 mph;

10.9%

88.0 mph;

27.1%

84.3 mph;

22.3%

77.0 mph;

7.3%

Tanaka PA

Let me paint you a portrait of a pitcher:

  • Extended periods of excellence despite looming injury concerns.
  • A pitch repertoire featuring a nasty splitter, a deceivingly effective fastball and a decent slider.
  • Great command of the strike zone leading to a strikeout-to-walk ratio around 5.0.
  • Occasionally has trouble keeping the ball in the park but is able to avoid serious damage by limiting baserunners.

Of course, I’m describing both Masahiro Tanaka and his fellow countryman and former teammate Hisashi Iwakuma. They face each other for the first time on Sunday.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Angels

5-4

.556

-

L-W-W-W-W

Rangers

6-5

.545

-

L-W-W-L-W

Athletics

4-6

.400

1.5

W-W-L-L-L

Mariners

3-6

.333

2.0

L-L-L-L-W

Astros

3-7

.300

2.5

L-W-L-L-L

As disappointing as the Mariners’ start to the season has been, the Astros have been equally disappointing. They won their home opener on Monday against the Royals but then proceeded to lose their next three games. The Tigers are their next opponents as they continue through a gauntlet of AL Central foes. After sweeping the Mariners last weekend, the Athletics were swept in turn by the Angels earlier this week. The A’s host the Royals this weekend while the Angels travel to Minnesota. The Rangers began a four-game series with the Orioles last night with a win.