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Series Preview: Mariners (29-20) vs. Twins (21-24)

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The Mariners begin a ten-game homestand with a series against the Twins.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With all the issues the offense is having, it’s nice to see the pitching staff provide some support. During the past seven games, the Mariners have allowed just 2.4 runs per game and have scored just a run more than that per game. Indeed, six of the past seven games have been decided by a one run margin. In years past, an offensively challenged stretch like this would have likely resulted in a pretty significant swoon in the standings. Instead, the Mariners have gone 5-2 during the past week (and 6-3 since Canó was suspended). They’re grinding out wins by any means possible.

At a Glance

Twins Mariners
Twins Mariners
Game 1 Friday, May 25 | 7:10 pm
RHP Fernando Romero LHP James Paxton
39% 61%
Game 2 Saturday, May 26 | 7:10 pm
RHP Jake Odorizzi LHP Wade LeBlanc
46% 54%
Game 3 Thursday, May 24 | 12:35 pm
RHP José Berríos RHP Mike Leake
47% 53%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Twins Edge
Overview Mariners Twins Edge
Batting (wRC+) 106 (4th in AL) 94 (11th) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -4.8 (10th) -5.1 (11th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 102 (7th) 102 (8th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 87 (4th) 105 (13th) Mariners

The Mariners head into June with a 10-game homestand. They’ve actually played a little better on the road this year, though they haven’t had a long stretch at home like this yet. The first opponent they’re hosting should be familiar. It seems like the Mariners and Twins have played a ton already this season. That’s probably because their road series in Minnesota was spread out over a month.

The Twins were a preseason favorite for the second Wild Card spot. Their surprising playoff run last season and a seemingly weak schedule gave them a leg up on the rest of the Wild Card hopefuls. We’re a month and a half into the season and things haven’t exactly gone to plan. An 11-game stretch at the end of April where they won just one game really derailed their season. They’ve also played the fewest games of any team in the majors because of the crappy Midwest weather. That certainly hasn’t helped them get into the rhythm of the season. But because the AL Central has been such a disaster, they’re closer to Cleveland in the standings than the Mariners.

Twins Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Brian Dozier 2B R 205 0.261 95 -0.1
Max Kepler RF L 179 0.260 114 -0.6
Eddie Rosario LF L 183 0.323 126 1.5
Miguel Sanó DH R 90 0.300 96 0.2
Eduardo Escobar 3B S 178 0.325 122 1.0
Logan Morrison 1B L 166 0.240 88 1.1
Mitch Garver C R 81 0.327 84 0.7
Ehire Adrianza SS S 102 0.313 56 -0.5
Byron Buxton CF R 79 0.255 12 1.7

The Twins have suffered their fair share of bad injury luck. They lost their starting catcher Jason Castro for the season after a bad knee injury. Joe Mauer is on the disabled list due to a concussion, a recurring problem during his career. And Miguel Sanó just returned from a hamstring injury. That’s led to some shuffling in their lineup since the Mariners last saw them a week and half ago. Their offense continues to be led by Eddie Rosario who has replicated his breakout from 2017. The lack of walks will limited his ceiling a bit, but as long as he continues to make hard contact and hit for power, he’ll be an asset for the Twins. It looks like Max Kepler is going to be this year’s breakout hitter for the Twins. He’s always tantalized with his ability to crush right-handed pitching. but this year he’s actually flipped his platoon splits. He’s posted a 186 wRC+ against lefties so far and that’s helped push his overall offensive line over league average for the first time in his career.

Probable Pitchers

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox

RHP Fernando Romero

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
21 2/3 24.4% 12.2% 6.3% 52.8% 1.66 3.61

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 27.6% 96.2 1953 (-1.79) 149 62
Sinker 35.5% 96.3 1908 (-1.30) 134 131
Changeup 8.4% 90.6 1944 (0.51)
Slider 28.4% 87.2 2410 (0.21) 138 85
*Romero’s changeup does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Fernando Romero, the Twins top pitching prospect, made his major league debut earlier this month and has given their starting rotation an injection of top-end talent. It’s remarkable that he’s made it all the way to the majors this year since he’s only pitched 21 innings above Double-A in his minor league career. His explosive fastball is his best pitch—he can get it up to triple digits on occasion—and it forms the core of his arsenal. He also has a good slider that he’ll use when he’s ahead in the count. He doesn’t have great command leading to a high walk rate but his stuff is so good that he can survive by being effectively wild. He’s made four starts in the majors so far and has racked up an impressive amount of strikeouts already.


RHP Jake Odorizzi

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
54 24.4% 10.2% 13.3% 25.5% 3.17 4.81

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 53.6% 91.5 2268 (0.49) 155 94
Cutter 6.3% 85.0 2262 (-1.00)
Splitter 16.0% 85.0 1569 (0.69) 104 169
Slider 16.4% 83.2 2183 (-0.36) 91 158
Curveball 7.7% 73.2 2363 (0.25)
*Odorizzi’s cutter and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

The Mariners faced Jake Odorizzi the last time these two teams met in the makeup game last Monday. He held them scoreless over six innings, striking out seven and allowing just five baserunners. Odorizzi has always been a fly ball pitcher. The Rays taught him to locate his “rising” fastball up in the zone and he’s continued that approach with the Twins. He can get a ton of whiffs with that kind of approach but he’ll always be prone to the long ball as well. It’s a high risk, high reward approach that’s worked for him this season. He’s allowed ten home runs so far but seven of them have been solo shots. He’s stranding nearly 90% of the baserunners he’s allowing and that’s helped him keep his ERA more than a run and half lower than his FIP.


RHP José Berríos

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
61 1/3 24.5% 5.0% 12.9% 42.3% 3.82 3.66

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 40.4% 94.3 2213 (-0.42) 142 86
Sinker 22.7% 93.5 2159 (0.19) 115 166
Changeup 9.4% 85.0 1651 (-0.02)
Curveball 27.4% 82.8 2358 (-1.72) 134 115
*Berríos’s changeup does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

After a tremendously disappointing debut in 2016, José Berríos finally showed off why he was considered the Twins top pitching prospect for years. In his sophomore season, he posted a respectable 3.84 FIP along with an above average strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also managed to avoid getting hurt by the long ball despite a batted ball profile heavily skewed towards fly balls. His signature pitch is his curveball which has an insane amount of horizontal movement to it. But it’s not really a swing and miss pitch. His fastball is his true weapon, though the lack of a good changeup leaves him vulnerable to left-handed batters. They posted a .341 wOBA against him last year.

Berríos has already had an up and down season despite his overall numbers looking pretty decent. He’s followed up a four game stretch where he allowed 18 runs with a couple of gems. The Mariners we able to score five runs off him in early April.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 33-18 0.647 -- L-W-W-W-W
Mariners 29-20 0.592 3.0 W-W-W-W-L
Angels 28-22 0.560 4.5 L-W-L-W-W
Athletics 26-24 0.520 6.5 W-W-L-L-W
Rangers 20-32 0.385 13.5 L-L-W-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 31-15 0.674 +3.5 W-W-W-L-L
Mariners 29-20 0.592 -- W-W-W-W-L
Angels 28-22 0.560 1.5 L-W-L-W-W
Athletics 26-24 0.520 3.5 W-W-L-L-W
Rays 23-25 0.479 5.5 W-L-L-L-W

The Astros started off their four-game series in Cleveland with a win yesterday afternoon. These two historically great pitching staffs will continue their battle this weekend. The Angels won their series in Toronto and will travel to New York to face the Yankees.