clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (51-52) vs. Mets (47-53)

The Mariners wrap up the month of July and a long homestand with a series against the Mets.

New York Mets v Miami Marlins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

At a Glance

Mets Mariners
Mets Mariners
Game 1 Friday, July 28 | 7:10 pm
RHP Rafael Montero LHP Ariel Miranda
39% 61%
Game 2 Saturday, July 29 | 1:10 pm
RHP Jacob deGrom RHP Yovani Gallardo
52% 48%
Game 3 Sunday, July 30 | 1:10 pm
RHP Seth Lugo LHP James Paxton
39% 61%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mets Mariners Edge
Overview Mets Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 107 (3rd in NL) 102 (6th in AL) Mets
Fielding (UZR) -8.4 (12th) 13.3 (4th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 108 (10th) 117 (12th) Mets
Bullpen (FIP-) 100 (12th) 102 (12th) Mets

This series against the Mets marks the last time the Mariners play at home until the middle of August. With such a brutal road schedule ahead of them, they need to take advantage of that rare home off-day yesterday and make the most of this weekend’s interleague series. The non-waiver trade deadline is looming on Monday but the Mariners seem content with making small upgrades to their pitching staff. That might be okay for now because the rest of the American League Wild Card race seems to be shaking itself out. Rather than the seven or eight teams that looked like they were in position to make a run at the Wild Card, this past week has weeded out half of them. A series win this weekend would get the Mariners back to .500 with 21 road games in 32 days on the horizon.

The Mets:

In many ways, the 2017 Mets are a lot like the 2017 Mariners. A plethora of injuries have caused huge problems with their pitching staff which has overshadowed a potent offense. Their World Series appearance in 2015 was driven by incredible pitching but that feels like ages ago. The only healthy pitcher left from that magical run is Jacob deGrom. Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz are all on the disabled list and Bartolo Colon is contemplating retirement. The Mets are currently tied with the Marlins for third in the NL East and have no shot at the playoffs this season.

Key Players

LF Michael Conforto – Redmond High School product Michael Conforto has done nothing but rip the cover off the baseball this year. His .279 ISO has fueled a team-leading 150 wRC+. His fly ball rate is actually down from last year, but his line drive rate is up over 7%, resulting in a multitude of extra base hits. His hard contact rate is at 41.0%, which is right around his career average. His strikeout rate is down from last year, while his walk rate is currently at a career high.

2B Neil Walker – Neil Walker is currently running a career-high .198 ISO, fueled by a sharp increase in fly ball rate. His 32.8% hard contact rate is above career average as well. Interestingly, his HR/FB rests at 10.7%. His strikeout numbers are at a career low, while he’s never walked at a higher clip. He’s also strong defensive at second base. With a 116 wRC+ and solid defense, Neil Walker is a valuable asset for the Mets.

RF Jay Bruce – Since entering the majors at age 21, Jay Bruce has hit 20 homers or more in every season but one. This year, the 30 year old slugger is on pace to hit the most dingers of his career. His fly ball rate has jumped to nearly 50% while his hard contact rate sits at 43.4%.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Rafael Montero

52 21.5% 10.7% 8.8% 45.5% 5.19 4.02

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Four-seam 94.3 46.7% 113 108 111
Sinker 93.4 11.7% 65 163 98
Changeup 88.9 16.8% 126 119 124
Slider 84.1 24.7% 79 35 64

With all the injuries suffered in their starting rotation, the Mets have called on Rafael Montero to fill in. He’s bounced between the bullpen and the rotation during his four years in the majors but has never really found success at the highest level. His minor league numbers are very impressive however—a 22.7% strikeout rate and a 7.0% walk rate across all minor league levels. The strikeouts have shown up in the majors but his major league walk rate is 12.2%. His fastball is probably his best pitch, generating both whiffs and a good number of popups. His changeup is also a good pitch, though he’ll only use it against left-handed batters while throwing his mediocre slider to right-handed batters.

New York Mets v San Diego Padres

RHP Jacob deGrom

133 2/3 27.9% 7.7% 15.8% 45.1% 3.30 3.69

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Four-seam 95.9 40.3% 292 108 231
Sinker 95.4 16.9% 219 108 182
Changeup 88.5 10.6% 101 106 103
Slider 89.9 21.9% 85 107 92
Curveball 81.8 10.3% 132 108 124

Where someone like Chris Sale generates obscene strikeout rates with a plethora of unhittable pitches, Jacob deGrom’s strikeout rate is based on one pitch alone; his fastball. Opposing batters simply cannot hit his heater. Among all fastballs thrown at least 100 times this season, deGrom’s has the highest whiff rate of them all. His secondary pitches are all effective as well but none of them come close to the dominance of his fastball. With so many of the Mets starters injured or ineffective, deGrom’s quiet excellence has been one of the few successes during a lost season.

RHP Seth Lugo

52 2/3 15.1% 6.2% 10.9% 44.8% 4.10 4.25

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Velocity Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Pitch Type Velocity Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Four-seam 92.0 30.2% 94 80 89
Sinker 91.2 26.3% 145 92 127
Changeup 85.1 10.9% - - -
Slider 86.6 13.1% 81 43 68
Curveball 77.6 19.6% 8 118 45
*Lugo’s changeup does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Seth Lugo is a Statcast darling because of his insane curveball. He generates the highest average spin rate of any pitch in the majors on his curveball (curves are generally thrown with more spin than any other pitch). More spin means a tighter downward break leading to more whiffs and more ground balls. But unlike someone like Rich Hill or Drew Pomeranz, Lugo’s fastball isn’t good enough to pair with his curveball, so he’s left with trying to mix in an average slider into his repertoire. His command is good enough to prevent baserunners from reaching via the walk. If he could only find a way to leverage his excellent curveball, he could be a sneaky mid-rotation starter for the Mets.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 67-34 0.663 -- W-L-W-W-L
Mariners 51-52 0.495 17.0 W-L-W-W-L
Rangers 49-52 0.485 18.0 W-W-L-W-L
Angels 49-54 0.476 19.0 W-W-L-L-L
Athletics 44-58 0.431 23.5 W-L-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 54-46 0.540 +1.0 L-W-W-W-W
Royals 53-47 0.530 -- W-W-W-W-W
Rays 53-50 0.515 1.5 L-L-W-W-L
Mariners 51-52 0.495 3.5 W-L-W-W-L
Twins 49-51 0.490 4.0 W-L-L-L-L

In the lede, I mentioned half of the Wild Card teams dropping too far out of the race this week (barring a late season surge). The Angels, the Rangers, and the Orioles each lost their series earlier this week. The Angels were swept by the Indians and are now 4-6 since Mike Trout returned from the disabled list. The Rangers lost their series against the Marlins and allowed 22 runs in their loss on Wednesday. They’re finally starting to talk about selling off Yu Darvish. Both the Yankees and the Royals continue to surge up the standings. New York is just a half game behind the Red Sox in the AL East and the Royals have won eight straight. The Royals are in Boston while the Yankees host the reeling Rays this weekend.