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Series Preview: Mariners (64-56) vs. Brewers (52-68)

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The Mariners return home to face the Brewers in their last interleague series of the season.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

At a Glance:

Friday, August 19 | 7:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Brewers

Mariners

LHP Brent Suter

LHP Wade LeBlanc

39%

61%

Saturday, August 20 | 6:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Brewers

Mariners

RHP Wily Peralta

RHP Felix Hernandez

32%

68%

Sunday, August 21 | 1:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Brewers

Mariners

RHP Matt Garza

LHP Ariel Miranda

35%

65%

*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Mariners

Brewers

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

107 (3rd in AL)

97 (11th in NL)

Mariners

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-24.2 (13th)

-30.1 (14th)

Mariners

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

105 (9th)

108 (10th)

Mariners

Bullpen (FIP-)

94 (11th)

98 (7th)

Mariners

While a split with the Angels wasn’t the ideal outcome, the Mariners still had a successful road trip. They swapped places with the Tigers in the Wild Card standings keeping pace with the Orioles and Red Sox. Unfortunately, they fell further behind the Rangers in the AL West. Their playoff odds are sitting around 35-40%. Of their 17 games in August, 14 of them have been decided by two runs or less, and 8 of them have been one run games. Hopefully beginning a homestand against the hapless Brewers will help get the offense clicking again.

The Brewers:

Longtime Brewers GM Doug Melvin stepped down late last season and was replaced by a young Harvard grad, David Stearns. Like Jerry Dipoto, Stearns quickly put his mark on the roster, swapping half the 40-man roster with new acquisitions. The Brewers were one of the most aggressive sellers at the trade deadline, moving Jonathan Lucroy and two of their relievers for an excellent haul of prospects. With their farm system replenished, Stearns is laying the foundation for the future. Of course, none of this matters for the current iteration of the team which is one of the worst in the National League.

Key Players

LF Ryan BraunRyan Braun is enjoying his most successful season since his PED suspension in 2013. He’s on pace to crack more than 30 home runs and could reach 20 stolen bases with a little luck. He’s even cut his strikeout rate to just 16.4% which has helped push his batting average well over .300. A bad back that cut his season short last year was worrying but his high level of play this year has curtailed any lingering health concerns. He’ll turn 33 this offseason so his years of elite offensive output could be coming to a close. Until then, he’s unquestionably the heart of the Brewers lineup.

3B Jonathan VillarAfter being squeezed out of playing time by Jed Lowrie and Carlos Correa in Houston, Jonathan Villar found himself traded to the Brewers during the offseason. He entered the year as their starting shortstop and quickly capitalized on the regular playing time. He’s carried over his improved contact rate from last year and has added more than four points to his walk rate. An extremely high BABIP of .403 is fueling much of his success, though with his speed and batted ball profile, it isn’t too far above his career rate or his expected production. Another rookie shortstop pushed him off his natural position but he’s slid over to third base and hasn’t missed a beat.

SS Orlando Arcia – With the Brewers in full rebuild mode, a number of their young prospects have made their major league debuts this year. The one with the most potential is their young shortstop, Orlando Arcia. After posting a 126 wRC+ in Double-A last year, he took a bit of a step back this year. The power that showed up last year carried over but his strikeout rate ballooned to 17.5%. Just 22-years-old, he has a lot of room to develop offensively but his excellent defense should be an asset right away.

Probable Pitchers

LHP Brent Suter (Triple-A Stats)

IP

K%

BB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

110 2/3

16.6%

3.1%

42.4%

3.50

3.45

A Harvard grad who was drafted in the 31st round of the 2012 draft, Brent Suter will be making his major league debut in Seattle. He’s never been regarded as a top prospect, or even a prospect at all, but he’s managed to put up some solid numbers throughout his minor league career. He doesn’t strikeout many but he’s become very stingy with giving up free passes. A career 6.7% walk rate in the minors is good but he’s managed to cut his walk rate to just 3.1% in Triple-A this year. Amazingly enough, Suter’s start tonight will be the first game started by a left-handed pitcher for the Brewers since August of 2013, a streak of 474 games.

RHP Wily Peralta

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

78

15.0%

8.8%

17.6%

50.4%

6.00

5.09

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

95.5 mph;

20.1%

95.6 mph;

45.3%

86.2 mph;

5.0%

85.7 mph;

29.5%

Peralta PA

Toss Wily Peralta into the group of pitchers with good stuff on paper but terrible results on the field. His fastball averages 95 mph and he’s able to generate an above average amount of whiffs with the pitch. His slider gives him an excellent weapon to use against right-handed batters. But that’s the extent of his repertoire. His changeup isn’t good enough and he doesn’t throw it often enough to be a factor. So like many two-pitch pitchers, he struggles with large platoon splits. For his career, left-handed batters have posted a .356 wOBA while righties have been limited to a .318 wOBA. Of course he’s been so bad this year that he’s running a neutral split because everybody is hitting him hard.

RHP Matt Garza

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

64 2/3

12.2%

8.5%

10.9%

52.9%

4.87

4.69

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

92.9 mph;

46.2%

92.7 mph;

23.3%

85.4 mph;

4.2%

83.1 mph;

16.2%

75.6 mph;

10.2%

Garza PA

After a stretch of eight seasons with an ERA under 4.00, Matt Garza imploded last year. His ERA skyrocketed and all of his peripherals took a turn for the worse. He hasn’t been any better this year either. His strikeout rate has fallen to just 12.2% as batters are making more contact against him than ever before. He’s lost some velocity off his fastball which could be a source of his struggles but he’s also throwing that pitch more often at the expense of his breaking balls, both of which are above average pitches. Garza has dealt with a number of injuries the past few years so changing his pitch mix could be an effort to stay healthy. Either way, he’s clearly not the effective pitcher that he was earlier in his career anymore.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Rangers

72-50

.590

-€”

L-L-W-W-W

Mariners

64-56

.533

7.0

W-W-L-W-L

Astros

61-60

.504

10.5

L-L-L-L-L

Athletics

52-69

.430

19.5

L-L-L-L-L

Angels

51-70

.421

20.5

L-L-W-L-W

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Orioles

67-53

.558

-€”

L-W-L-L-W

Red Sox

67-53

.558

-€”

W-W-W-W-L

Mariners

64-56

.533

3.0

W-W-L-W-L

Tigers

64-57

.529

3.5

W-L-L-L-W

Yankees

61-59

.508

6.0

W-L-W-L-L

Like I noted above, the Mariners were able to keep pace in the Wild Card race because the Red Sox swept the Orioles in a brief two-game series earlier in the week. The Red Sox had their six-game winning streak snapped last night in Detroit. The Tigers were swept by the Royals prior to their current four-game series against the Red Sox. The Mariners should be rooting for the Tigers or at least a split. The Orioles shook off their woes by demolishing the Astros last night, 13-5. The Astros have fallen to just a game over .500 and hope to salvage their series in Baltimore over the weekend. In a weird twist of fate, the Mariners should be rooting for the Astros, or again, at least a series split. After sweeping the Athletics at home, the Rangers travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Rays over the weekend.