clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (23-17) at Reds (15-26)

New, comments

The Mariners kick off their interleague slate with a three-game series in Cincinnati over the weekend.

Cleveland Indians v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

At a Glance:

Friday, May 20 | 4:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Mariners

Reds

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

RHP Dan Straily

57%

43%

Saturday, May 21 | 1:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Mariners

Reds

RHP Felix Hernandez

LHP John Lamb

61%

39%

Sunday, May 22 | 10:10 am

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Mariners

Reds

LHP Wade Miley

RHP Alfredo Simon

62%

38%

*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Mariners

Reds

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

107 (3rd in AL)

79 (12th in NL)

Mariners

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-13.5 (14th)

-4.9 (11th)

Reds

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

99 (6th)

132 (15th)

Mariners

Bullpen (FIP-)

89 (7th)

148 (15th)

Mariners

With their series win over the Orioles, the Mariners now possess the best road record in the American League. Or put another way, the Mariners have won as many games on the road as the Reds have won all season. The Mariners playoff odds are back over 60% but they haven’t run away with the division yet. Both the Rangers and the Astros are sitting around 25-30% and could be a nuisance all summer long.

We’ve written at length about the parity found in the American League. There’s just one team that’s been realistically eliminated from playoff contention, the Twins, and the rest could put together a playoff run with the right amount of luck. That’s certainly not the case in the National League. There are five teams (or six depending on how believable you think the Phillies are) who have been eliminated already and we’re only a quarter of the way through the season. The Reds aren’t the worst team in the National League, but they’re certainly not looking forward to playing baseball in October.

The Reds:

The Reds own the worst run differential in the majors and it’s mostly due to their atrocious pitching staff. They’re allowing six runs per game on average and both their rotation and bullpen are culprits. Their team walk rate of 11.1% is the highest posted by any team in the last ten years. They’re giving up almost two home runs per nine innings, also the highest rate in the last ten years. Their home ballpark certainly doesn’t help, as it has the second highest home run park factor in baseball. The Reds are coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Indians and are sitting in last place in the NL Central.

Key Players

1B Joey Votto The Reds will be paying Joey Votto $179 million over the next eight years which is one of the reasons why they haven’t embraced a full tear down like the Braves have. He’s been one of the best first basemen in baseball since his debut but he’s 32 now and his knees have already started giving him problems. But outside of his health, he has the offensive profile of someone who could age really well. He owns the highest walk rate in baseball over the last five years and his batted ball profile is heavily skewed towards line drives. His power may not age well but a great batting average and elite on-base skills will help him stay productive well into the twilight of his career.

SS Zack Cozart Zack Cozart owns one of the oddest slash lines in baseball this year. He’s hitting .328/.333/.520 and taking just his third walk of the year last night helped him push his on-base percentage over his batting average. A serious knee injury cut short a breakout season for him last year but he’s managed to carry over many of the improvements to this year. He’s hitting for much more power than in his early career and his strikeout rate is at a career low. A big jump in BABIP is supported by his 26.8% line drive rate and a career high hard hit rate. Because of his ridiculously low walk rate, he’s not the ideal leadoff hitter but he’s improved almost every other facet of his offensive game.

CF Billy Hamilton The tantalizing speed Billy Hamilton possesses is wasted if he can’t get on base. With a below average walk rate, he needs to take advantage of every ball he puts in play. He was generating too much lift with his swing prior to this year but he overhauled his swing this spring. He’s making more contact than ever before and he’s putting the ball on the ground more often, both good signs for his development.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Dan Straily

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

41 1/3

20.7%

11.5%

10.9%

38.2%

3.05

4.59

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

90.9 mph;

38.8%

90.6 mph;

15.0%

83.8 mph;

17.3%

85.1 mph;

24.6%

75.5 mph;

4.2%

Straily PA

In many ways, Dan Straily is the same pitcher who made 27 starts for the Athletics back in 2013, accumulating 1.4 fWAR. The thing he’s lacked since then is an opportunity for regular work. Bouncing between the Cubs and the Astros, he’s finally latched on with the Reds and has put together six promising starts for them this year. He’s continued to post a decent strikeout rate though his walk rate has crept upwards since ’13. He’s also been pretty lucky so far, running a BABIP of just .227 and stranding almost 85% of the runners he’s allowed. The thing that has been most promising has been his fastball. He’s generating a whiff more than a quarter of the time a batter swings at the pitch and it’s the 14th highest whiff rate of any fastball this year.

LHP John Lamb (2015 Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

49 2/3

26.4%

8.6%

14.3%

37.7%

5.80

4.16

Pitches

Four-seam

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

91.9 mph;

55.0%

87.2 mph;

20.0%

78.0 mph;

16.5%

70.4 mph;

8.6%

Lamb PA

If John Lamb had a decent fastball, he could be one of the most exciting young pitchers in the National League. A high home run rate masked some pretty good peripheral stats last year. All three of his secondary pitches are well above average when it comes to generating swinging strikes. His changeup is his best pitch and it has the largest velocity differential between it and the fastball in the majors. But he can’t command his fastball and it has merely average velocity and movement. His great secondary pitches make for an intriguing arsenal but batters have started to learn to key in on his fastball—they’re hitting .386 off of it during his brief career. He began this year on the disabled list due to back surgery during the offseason and has made just three starts since returning to action.

RHP Alfredo Simon

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

31 1/3

16.0%

8.6%

23.7%

46.2%

10.34

7.08

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Splitter

Curveball

93.6 mph;

20.0%

93.8 mph;

33.0%

90.2 mph;

17.4%

86.0 mph;

21.1%

78.4 mph;

8.3%

Simon PA

Among all pitchers who have thrown a similar amount of innings this year, Alfredo Simon’s ERA of 10.34 is the highest by more than two full runs. Batters are getting a hit almost two-fifths of the time they put one of his pitches in play. When they’re not finding grass, batters are launching his pitches into the stands almost a quarter of the time they put the ball in the air. I’m running out of ways to describe just how bad Alfredo Simon has been this year. An argument could be made that he’s been the worst starter in baseball and he still has a job with the Reds.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Mariners

23-17

.575

-€”

L-L-W-L-W

Rangers

22-19

.537

1.5

W-W-L-L-L

Angels

19-22

.463

4.5

W-W-L-W-W

Athletics

19-23

.452

5.0

W-W-W-W-L

Astros

17-25

.405

7.0

L-L-W-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Red Sox

25-16

.610

+2.5

W-W-L-L-W

Indians

21-17

.553

-€”

L-W-W-W-W

Rangers

22-19

.537

0.5

W-W-L-L-L

Royals

20-20

.500

2.0

L-W-W-W-L

Rays

19-19

.500

2.0

W-L-W-W-W

The Angels and the Athletics are surging up the AL West standings. After their sweep of the Mariners, the Angels took three of four from the Dodgers in their interleague freeway series. The Athletics helped out the Mariners by sweeping the Rangers in Oakland but lost to the Yankees in the first game of their four-game weekend series. The Astros were able to take two of three from the White Sox and lost the final game of their series to Chris Sale. They’re hosting the Rangers this weekend. The Indians have rocketed up the Wild Card standings after sweeping the Reds in four games; they’re in Boston this weekend.