clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (59-60) vs. Orioles (58-60)

The Mariners need to win this series against the Orioles to rebound after a forgettable weekend.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

At a Glance

Orioles Mariners
Orioles Mariners
Game 1 Monday, August 14 | 7:10 pm
RHP Kevin Gausman RHP Yovani Gallardo
49% 51%
Game 2 Tuesday, August 15 | 7:10 pm
LHP Wade Miley TBD
46% 54%
Game 3 Wednesday, August 16 | 12:40 pm
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez LHP Marco Gonzalez
46% 54%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 99 (8th in AL) 102 (4th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -11.9 (12th) 16.0 (3rd) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 114 (11th) 120 (14th) Orioles
Bullpen (FIP-) 99 (10th) 99 (12th) Orioles

Woof. That was deflating. But what’s past is past. The Mariners need to rebound with a strong series against the Orioles. The season is far from over but it is quickly slipping away. With James Paxton on the shelf for at least three weeks, the Mariners desperately need some pitching help from outside the organization. Ryan Divish did a great job of laying out some of the options available to the M’s on Saturday. At this point, the Mariners simply need someone(s) to throw out there every five days. They’re just two games back in the Wild Card race, and we’ve all seen how quickly the standings can change—for better or worse.

The Orioles:

As turbulent as the Mariners season has been, the Orioles have suffered through a season just as bad. They led the AL East on May 20, nine games over .500. They’ve slowly fallen down the standings since then and now find themselves two and a half games back in the Wild Card race. Despite their struggles, they surprisingly didn’t sell at the trade deadline and actually brought a few players in to bolster their roster. In many ways, they’re built like the Mariners. An extremely weak starting rotation needs to be supported by a strong offense to have any kind of success.

Key Players

3B Manny MachadoAfter accumulating 13.3 fWAR over the last two years, Manny Machado got off to a very slow start this year. He posted a 91 wRC+ in the first half of the season, a far cry from the 131 wRC+ mark he averaged over the last two years. An abnormally low line drive rate and an extremely high popup rate led to a BABIP of .239. However, since the All-Star break, he’s posted a wRC+ of 137 and has looked every bit as deadly at the plate as expected. His defense at third base never slipped and he’s continued to make a case for himself as one of the best defenders at the hot corner in baseball.

2B Jonathan SchoopJonathan Schoop has always hinted at some impressive offensive fireworks but has been held back by an extremely aggressive approach at the plate. With age comes maturity, and even a little change in his plate discipline stats has led to a breakout campaign for Schoop this year. He’s swinging far less often this year, dropping his swing rate by ten points, but has continued to make contact at the same rate as before. He’s learning how to spit on pitches outside of the strike zone and punishing pitches that he can actually handle. He probably won’t ever post a walk rate above league average, but even a little patience and pitch recognition have helped him become a valuable piece in the middle of the Orioles lineup.

CF Adam JonesAnother player with an extremely aggressive approach at the plate, Adam Jones has finally seen the pitfalls of that aggression catch up to him. When he’s hitting for enough power and getting enough balls to drop in for hits, that kind of approach has led to some impressive offensive years. But he’s seen how hard it is to maintain that kind of success when he isn’t hitting for as much power and his BABIP sees a drop of just a few points.

Probable Pitchers

Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles

RHP Kevin Gausman

133 21.1% 9.2% 15.0% 42.4% 5.21 4.60

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Four-seam 95.2 64.4% 106 103 105
Splitter 85.9 19.5% 214 114 181
Slider 83.9 14.1% 131 99 120
Curveball 79.4 1.5% - - -
*Gausman’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Kevin Gausman’s ERA and FIP look ugly this season but they hide the string of strong starts he’s put together over the last two months. Since June 16, Gausman is featuring a 3.82/3.53/3.31 pitcher slash line backed by a 3.76 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That date is pretty important for his season. He threw his splitter 21.6% of the time in his start on June 16, just the second time he had crossed the 20% mark up to that point in the season. In every start but one since then, he’s thrown his splitter more than a quarter of the time, on average. That pitch is extremely effective and his increased use of it has helped him turn the corner in a lost season. He’s still struggling with a BABIP over .350, but the additional strikeouts have helped him manage the baserunners he’s allowing.

LHP Wade Miley

121 1/3 19.3% 12.3% 18.8% 50.9% 5.19 5.09

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Pitch Type Velocity (mph) Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Four-seam 91.9 23.6% 59 123 80
Sinker 90.9 33.1% 131 116 126
Cutter 89.2 6.2% 167 49 128
Changeup 83.5 10.8% 129 53 104
Slider 84.4 17.6% 78 112 89
Curveball 77.2 8.7% 79 143 100

Wade Miley hasn’t changed much since his brief time with the Mariners. He’s still striking out an average number of players, he still allows too much hard contact, and he still can’t keep the ball in the yard. He is allowing over five walks per nine innings this year, a huge increase over his career rate. That huge increase in walk rate might be tied to a loss of command, but it’s more likely the result of an intentional refusal to pitch in the strike zone. Miley has the lowest rate of pitches thrown in the strike zone in the majors this year and it’s by far the lowest rate of his career. Opposing batters just aren’t biting at those pitches either. His ability to generate swings at pitches outside of the strike zone has crumbled as well.

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

116 2/3 21.3% 10.0% 20.2% 45.3% 6.25 5.41

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Velocity Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Pitch Type Velocity Frequency Whiff+ BIP+ Avg Pitch Score
Four-seam 91.3 14.8% 113 155 127
Sinker 90.8 39.3% 49 93 64
Cutter 90.6 2.7% - - -
Splitter 84.4 17.4% 131 126 129
Slider 82.8 18.6% 93 15 67
Curveball 75.5 4.7% - - -
*Jimenez’s cutter and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

At this point in his career, Ubaldo Jimenez is a warm body the Orioles can throw out every five days. His strikeout rate has bounced back over league average this year but he’s allowing a home run 20% of the time a batter hits a fly ball. In this new era of home runs, that absurd rate isn’t even the highest in the majors (it’s fifth highest). But like Gausman, looking at his overall numbers hides a recent string of success. And like Gausman, it’s tied to an increased usage of his splitter. Jimenez’s splitter isn’t nearly as good as Gausman’s but it’s definitely his best pitch by whiff rate and it’s helped him keep the ball on the ground. He’s allowed just seven runs in his last four starts.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 72-45 0.615 -- L-L-L-L-W
Angels 61-58 0.513 12.0 W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 59-60 0.496 14.0 W-L-L-L-L
Rangers 56-60 0.483 15.5 L-W-W-W-L
Athletics 52-66 0.441 20.5 L-L-W-L-W

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 61-55 0.526 +1.5 W-L-W-L-L
Angels 61-58 0.513 -- W-W-W-W-W
Twins 59-57 0.509 0.5 W-W-W-L-W
Royals 59-58 0.504 1.0 L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 59-60 0.496 2.0 W-L-L-L-L

Like the Mariners, the Rays have quickly fallen down the standings after losing their third series in a row. They’ll host the Blue Jays for four games before the Mariners come to town this upcoming weekend. The Twins continued their climb back up the standings with a series win over the Tigers. They’ll host the Indians to start this week. The Angels travel to Washington to face the Bryce Harper-less Nationals for two games and the Royals are in Oakland for three games this week.