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Series Preview: Mariners (5-7) at Indians (5-5)

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After an odd day off, the Mariners travel to Cleveland for a three-game series.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Tuesday, April 19

3:10 pm

Mariners

LHP Wade Miley

Indians

RHP Carlos Carrasco

Wednesday, April 20

3:10 pm

Mariners

RHP Taijuan Walker

Indians

RHP Danny Salazar

Thursday, April 21

9:10 am

Mariners

RHP Nathan Karns

Indians

RHP Cody Anderson

*Be sure to note the really weird start times for all of the games in this series. Thanks Cleveland.

Mariners (2015)

Indians (2015)

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

101 (5th in AL)

100 (8th in AL)

Mariners

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-23.6 (13th)

23.0 (2nd)

Indians

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

106 (11th)

92 (2nd)

Indians

Bullpen (FIP-)

103 (10th)

93 (3rd)

Indians

After two weeks, the Mariners’ overall run differential sits at zero, but they’ve scored twice as many runs on the road than they’ve given up. Now they head to Cleveland to face one of the best pitching staffs in the American League. Despite ranking in the top three in three of the four categories above, the Indians fell just short of the second Wild Card spot last year. At team that vastly improved as the season went on, they were a popular pick to win the crowded AL Central this year. Their starting rotation looks as good as the hyped Mets rotation, they’re just hoping for enough run support to rise above the American League quagmire.

The Indians:

A few key injuries have really hurt the Indians early this year. With both Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall on the shelf, their outfield has been cobbled together, with Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill, and Jose Ramirez all seeing significant time. Chisenhall may be activated later this week but Brantley won't have an impact on this series. Over the weekend, the Indians lost two of three to the Mets.

Key Players

SS Francisco Lindor If it weren’t for Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor would have run away with the Rookie of the Year award last year. Their debut conjures memories of Jeter, Rodriguez, and Garciaparra in the late-90s. To get a sense of how impactful Lindor’s call up was just look at the Indians’ team defense. Per FanGraphs Defense, the Indians had one of the worst defenses in the first half of last year. They ended the year with the second best defense in the American League and much of it was due to Lindor’s defensive prowess.

2B Jason Kipnis After an injury-plagued year in 2014, Jason Kipnis bounced back to post a .303/.372/.451 slash line last year. His BABIP bounced back, he struck out less often, and he continued to play solid defense at a premium position. The only thing that didn’t return was his power. His isolated power was exactly league average but instead of 15+ home runs, he hit a career-high 43 doubles. Even if he doesn’t regain some of his home run power, he should post another excellent season as one of the best second basemen in the American League.

C Yan Gomes Between 2013 and 2014, Yan Gomes posted 7.8 fWAR but a bad knee injury completely derailed his 2015. Before that, he showed excellent power and a batted ball profile that could support an above average BABIP. He doesn’t walk much so his offensive ceiling is a bit limited but the rest of his offensive game is more than good enough. All that’s left is to prove that the injury concerns are behind him.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Carlos Carrasco (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

183 2/3

29.6%

5.9%

13.2%

51.2%

3.63

2.84

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

95.7 mph;

40.6%

95.1 mph;

15.1%

89.1 mph;

14.0%

89.1 mph;

22.4%

84.1 mph;

7.9%

Carrasco PA

Everything fell into place for Carlos Carrasco last year. He struck out almost 30% of the batters he faced while maintaining a miniscule walk rate and an above average ground ball rate. Everything you could want in a pitcher, Carrasco has in spades. He has four plus pitches in his repertoire, each with incredible velocity. Among all right-handed starters, he threw the fifth fastest slider and batters whiffed almost half of the time they swung at the pitch. His changeup is almost a carbon copy of Felix’s. Carrasco is legitimately one of the best pitchers in the American League and should be a strong candidate to win the Cy Young award when all is said and done.

RHP Danny Salazar (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

185

25.8%

7.0%

12.4%

43.9%

3.45

3.62

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Splitter

Slider

Curveball

95.9 mph;

52.6%

95.0 mph;

14.9%

86.1 mph;

20.8%

86.1 mph;

6.2%

80.9 mph;

4.1%

Salazar PA

The third member of the Indians rotation could be an ace on almost any other team. Danny Salazar is able to rack up strike outs while also commanding his entire repertoire to avoid unnecessary baserunners. A below average ground ball rate and some trouble with the home run have kept his career ERA and FIP above 3.50. Salazar leans heavily on his excellent fastball and has a killer splitter to finish off batters. He rarely throws his breaking balls which is odd for a starting pitcher. His slider may be the better of the two but batters own a .233 ISO off the pitch.

RHP Cody Anderson (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

91 1/3

12.1%

6.6%

9.2%

45.9%

3.05

4.27

Pitches

Four-seam

Cutter

Changeup

93.3 mph;

56.9%

90.0 mph;

15.5%

84.6 mph;

22.9%

Anderson PA

In spring training, Cody Anderson looked like he had added a couple of miles per hour to his fastball, pushing its average velocity up to 96. That added velocity has seemingly disappeared in the two starts he’s made in the regular season. Without a plus fastball, he doesn’t have much to work with otherwise. His strikeout rate took a steep tumble from what he posted in the minors and he was very lucky to post a .237 BABIP without a batted ball profile to support it. He doesn’t possess a consistent breaking ball in his arsenal which severely limits his future potential.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Rangers

7-6

.538

-

L-L-W-L-W

Angels

6-7

.462

1.0

W-L-L-L-W

Athletics

6-7

.462

1.0

L-L-L-W-W

Mariners

5-7

.417

1.5

L-W-W-W-L

Astros

5-8

.385

2.0

L-L-W-L-W

The AL West standings didn’t change very much over the weekend. The Rangers split a rain-shortened series with the Orioles over the weekend and host the Astros to start the week. Houston showed some signs of life over the weekend, taking two of three from the Tigers at home. The previously winless Twins took out all of their early season frustration on the Angels over the weekend, sweeping them in three games. Los Angeles began a four-game series against the White Sox with a win last night. The Athletics won their weekend series against the Royals and are in New York facing the Yankees to start the week.