clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (69-67) vs. Rangers (82-55)

New, 9 comments

This four-game series will be the last time the Mariners and the Rangers play each other this season. Good riddance.

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images

At a Glance:

Monday, September 5 | 1:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Rangers

Mariners

LHP Cole Hamels

RHP Felix Hernandez

51%

49%

Tuesday, September 6 | 7:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Rangers

Mariners

LHP Martin Perez

LHP James Paxton

48%

52%

Wednesday, September 7 | 7:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Rangers

Mariners

RHP A.J. Griffin

LHP Ariel Miranda

52%

48%

Thursday, September 8 | 7:10 pm

Away Team

vs.

Home Team

Rangers

Mariners

LHP Derek Holland

RHP Taijuan Walker

51%

49%

*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Mariners

Rangers

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

106 (2nd in AL)

99 (10th in AL)

Mariners

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

-21.4 (13th)

4.8 (7th)

Rangers

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

109 (11th)

106 (9th)

Rangers

Bullpen (FIP-)

98 (11th)

106 (14th)

Mariners

*Text in italics has appeared in a previous series preview.

The Mariners are in this weird limbo where they’re almost certainly out of the playoff race but they aren’t evaluating many of their young prospects yet. The success of the minor league affiliates means players like Dan Vogelbach, Tony Zych, and Zach Lee will be staying in Tacoma to finish out their postseason. Meanwhile, the major league club has won just three of their last fourteen games, a stretch as bad as the collapse at the beginning of June. They’ll get a chance to salvage some of their pride against a Rangers team that has completely dominated the season series. The Mariners have won just four games against them this year and two of them were in the opening series way back in April.

The Rangers:

Since taking the division lead in June, the Rangers’ lead hasn’t been threatened at all. Sure, they’ve continued to win game after game but both the Astros and the Mariners have made running away with the division easy. As bad as the Mariners have been against the Rangers, the Astros have been worse (3-13), and neither team has shown any sort of consistency to challenge for the division. This four-game series will be the last time the Mariners will face the Rangers this year. Good riddance.

Key Players

2B Rougned Odor With Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve playing in the same division, it can be easy to forget that Rougned Odor has the talent to be as good as both of them. Last year, he played his way out of a job early in the year and then played his way right back onto the team. From June 15—the day he was recalled from Triple-A—through the end of the season, Odor hit .292/.334/.527 good for a 126 wRC+. He’s picked up right where he left off, slashing .273/.295/.491 this year. The only concern is his aggressive approach at the plate that’s driven his walk rate down to just 2.5%.

LF Ian Desmond Ian Desmond has resoundingly answered any lingering questions about his transition to the outfield and his offensive woes. He’s been an above average outfielder in both left and center field and he’s been one of the Rangers best hitters this season. He’s cut his strikeout rate by five points and he’s raised his ISO back to around .180. He’s slowed down considerably in the second half, sporting a 53 wRC+ since the All-Star break and an abysmal 36 wRC+ in August. He isn’t walking and his power has completely dried up the last few months.

3B Adrian Beltre Here’s a thing about Adrian Beltre: He tore a ligament in his thumb on May 31 of last year and spent 21 days on the disabled list. That isn’t nearly enough time to heal from that kind of injury but instead of struggling to hit for the rest of the season, he slashed .305/.357/.479 over the last four months of the year. He’s just continued to produce at the plate despite turning 37 in April. He’s hitting for power again and his plate discipline stats are right in line with his career norms. Combined with his great defense that hasn’t slipped, Beltre is just solidifying his hall of fame bid with another excellent season.

IF Jurickson ProfarWhen Rougned Odor was suspended earlier this month, the Rangers called up former top prospect Jurickson Profar to fill in for him. A litany of injuries had derailed Profar’s promising career; he missed all of 2014 and almost all of 2015 with a bad shoulder injury. Since making a big splash in the first half, Profar has dropped off significantly in the second half. His strikeout rate has jumped up to 22% since the All-Star break—27% in August—which has led to a wRC+ of just 38. He’s still playing all over the field but he’s no longer contributing at the plate.

RF Nomar Mazara With Shin-Soo Choo suffering through three separate injuries this year, Nomar Mazara has stepped into the major league lineup without missing a beat. As a highly advanced hitter with a smooth swing and good power, he’s easily made the transition to the majors and has played his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation. His strikeout rate in the majors has been much better than we might have expected, though his walk rate is below average. That’s okay because when he makes contact he’s hitting a line drive almost a quarter of the time.

C Jonathan LucroyAfter dancing around a trade for most of the year, and avoiding a Cleveland derailment, Jonathan Lucroy finally found himself in a Rangers uniform. He immediately upgrades the Rangers’ weakest position with one of the best catchers in the game. Lucroy has always been praised for his defensive work but he’s no slouch at the plate either. Since joining the Rangers, he’s blasted seven home runs in just 77 plate appearances, taking full advantage of the friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington.

Probable Pitchers

LHP Cole Hamels

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

173

23.6%

9.0%

12.9%

49.8%

2.91

3.87

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

93.6 mph;

22.9%

93.5 mph;

20.0%

90.0 mph;

24.6%

18.0 mph;

18.0%

80.2 mph;

14.5%

Hamels PA

The home run issues that were plaguing Cole Hamels earlier this year have sorted themselves out but his FIP is still higher than it’s been since his rookie year. With his home run per fly ball rate falling to league average, the main culprit has been a big increase in his walk rate. But despite all the extra baserunners and home runs, he’s the ERA leader in the American League. Stranding 82% of the runners that reach base will certainly help and Hamels has been particularly stingy when runners reach scoring position, allowing just a .255 wOBA in those situations.

LHP Martin Perez

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

169 2/3

12.0%

9.2%

10.1%

52.9%

4.30

4.51

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

93.9 mph;

18.5%

93.7 mph;

43.6%

85.2 mph;

16.7%

85.7 mph;

11.3%

80.7 mph;

9.9%

Perez PA

Martin Perez returned from Tommy John surgery last year and posted a sparkling 3.40 FIP in the second half of the season. Despite the great peripherals, his results were marred by a 4.46 ERA and a .324 BABIP. That success he enjoyed last year wasn’t sustainable. His home run rate regressed to league average, his walk rate increased by two points, and he’s striking out fewer batters than ever before. The only thing he’s been able to maintain is his above average groundball rate. With a contact heavy approach and poor peripherals, it’s no wonder his FIP finally matches his ugly ERA.

RHP A.J. Griffin

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

102

20.5%

8.4%

14.8%

30.3%

4.41

5.34

Pitches

Four-seam

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

88.6 mph;

52.8%

83.9 mph;

19.5%

81.7 mph;

9.2%

67.5 mph;

18.5%

Griffin PA

Somehow, A.J. Griffin has managed to find a modicum of success in Texas despite possessing a very homer prone repertoire. He’s given up the seventh most home runs per nine innings among pitchers with a similar amount of innings pitched, though his home run per fly ball rate is relatively low due to the abundance of fly balls he allows. His signature pitch is his slow looping curveball. In fact, his curve has the slowest average velocity of any pitch in all of major league baseball. So despite having a relatively average fastball and a poor changeup, he’s able to flummox batters with extreme timing issues, leading to a decent strikeout rate, lots of pop-ups, and tons of fly balls.

LHP Derek Holland

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

90 2/3

14.3%

7.5%

8.9%

36.2%

4.57

4.54

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

93.0 mph;

39.3%

92.4 mph;

23.7%

83.9 mph;

10.6%

81.8 mph;

11.1%

78.5 mph;

14.5%

Holland PA

Derek Holland has finally put his health woes behind him, starting more games this year than the previous two combined. Unfortunately, that’s just about all that’s gone well for him this year. Earlier in his career, he would regularly post above average strikeout rates but his ability to consistently generate whiffs has dwindled. He’s maintained a decent walk rate and has avoided the big home run problems that plagued him in the past. But without the strikeouts, he’s just a pitch-to-contact, back-end starter without much promise.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Rangers

82-55

.599

­­--

W-W-W-W-L

Astros

72-64

.529

9.5

W-W-L-L-W

Mariners

69-67

.507

12.5

L-L-W-L-L

Angels

61-75

.449

20.5

W-W-L-W-W

Athletics

58-78

.426

23.5

L-L-L-L-W

The Wild Card Race

Team

W-L

W%

Games Behind

Recent Form

Red Sox

76-60

.559

+2.0

L-W-W-W-L

Orioles

74-62

.544

--

W-L-W-W-L

Tigers

74-62

.544

--

W-W-W-L-W

Astros

72-64

.529

2.0

W-W-L-L-W

Yankees

70-65

.519

3.5

W-W-L-L-W

The Astros couldn’t make any headway into the Rangers’ lead in the AL West over the weekend, losing two of three. They’re path to the Wild Card doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Cleveland to take on the leaders of the AL Central in a four-game series. The Tigers were able to keep pace in the Wild Card after the Orioles and Red Sox both lost on Sunday. All three Wild Card leaders are on the road to start this week; the Red Sox in San Diego, the Orioles in Tampa Bay, and the Tigers in Chicago.