clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (18-12) vs. Angels (19-12)

New, 30 comments

The Mariners face the Angels for the first time this season.

Baltimore Orioles v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Mariners enter this weekend in a virtual three way tie for the AL West division lead. Yes, they’re technically a half game behind the Astros in the standings, but that’s beside the point. I don’t think anyone thought the standings would look like this a month into the season. Some might say it’s still too early to scoreboard watch but Houston will be facing the best team in National League this weekend. The standings could look very different come Monday. That’s fun.

At a Glance

Athletics Mariners
Athletics Mariners
Game 1 Friday, May 4 | 7:10 pm
RHP Garrett Richards RHP Mike Leake
49% 51%
Game 2 Saturday, May 5 | 6:10 pm
LHP Tyler Skaggs LHP Marco Gonzales
50% 50%
Game 3 Sunday, May 6 | 1:10 pm
RHP Shohei Ohtani* RHP Félix Hernández
47% 53%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer). Shohei Ohtani has not been officially announced as the starter on Sunday.

Team Overview

Overview Mariners (2018) Angels (2018) Edge
Overview Mariners (2018) Angels (2018) Edge
Batting (wRC+) 108 (4th in AL) 104 (6th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -3.2 (13th) 4.8 (2nd) Angels
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 110 (10th) 107 (8th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 99 (9th) 102 (11th) Mariners

It’s the first weekend in May and the Mariners are finally facing the Angels. The quirkiness of the MLB schedule knows no bounds. Heading into the season, these two teams looked pretty similar on paper. The Angels had made a number of additions to their offense to support Mike Trout, but their pitching staff looked shaky despite the addition of Shohei Ohtani. Just a month into the season, the Angels are already stretching the depth of their starting rotation to its limits. Three of their starters are currently on the disabled list, forcing them to scramble to fill their rotation on a weekly basis. Any thought of a six-man rotation to protect some of their injury-prone starters has been completely forgotten.

The Angels bullpen continues to be a source of consternation for Mike Scioscia. The closer carrousel continues to spin with three candidates vying for the job currently, Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian, and Justin Anderson. Their most consistent reliever, Keynan Middleton, had locked down the role with some impressive appearances in April. He’s currently on the disabled list.

Projected Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Ian Kinsler 2B R 79 0.231 76 -1.3
Mike Trout CF R 139 0.297 190 1.3
Justin Upton LF R 137 0.287 94 1.4
Albert Pujols 1B R 129 0.245 94 -0.1
Shohei Ohtani DH L 59 0.368 168 -0.1
Andrelton Simmons SS R 116 0.337 151 0.7
Zack Cozart 3B R 118 0.250 84 -0.2
Kole Calhoun RF L 114 0.231 11 0.8
Martín Maldonado C R 85 0.259 77 -0.2

Despite adding Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler, and Shohei Ohtani to their lineup, it’s still a one-man show. Mike Trout continues to carry the offensive load almost single-handedly. At the plate, Ohtani’s been a nice surprise. Everyone questioned how well he’d transition offensively but he’s answered with four home runs and an excellent 166 wRC+ in 59 plate appearances. His offensive contributions have barely outweighed the defensive deficiencies of playing Albert Pujols at first base (4.6 offensive runs vs. -3.4 defensive runs per FanGraphs). Pujols is one hit away from reaching 3,000 for his career. He should reach that milestone during this series.

Probable Pitchers

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  v Houston Astros

RHP Garrett Richards (2018)

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
27 2/3 29.1% 15.0% 21.1% 55.7% 4.88 4.53

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 41.8% 96.3 2606 (2.80) 66 130
Sinker 10.1% 96.1 2539 (3.29)
Slider 37.5% 89.8 2919 (2.11) 146 107
Curveball 10.4% 81.8 3253 (2.76)
*Richards’s sinker and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

After two years of injury troubles, Garrett Richards looks to be finally healthy. He’s been limited to just 12 starts during the past two seasons and his start tonight will be the first time he’s surpassed seven starts in a season since 2015. A Statcast darling, Richards’s ridiculously high spin rate on all of his pitches gives him four absolutely nasty pitches in his arsenal. His four-seam fastball, while not as effective this year, is sort of a cross between a cutter and a fastball. It doesn’t as much “rise” as a traditional four-seam fastball and certainly not as much as we’d expect with a spin rate as high as he’s running. His best pitches are his breaking balls. His slider is a true out pitch for him, generating ridiculous amounts of whiffs, and his curveball is a nice change-of-pace weapon he can use when he needs to steal a strike. His walk rate has spiked early this season and it’s possibly due to a drop in his ability to induce swings on pitches out of the zone.


LHP Tyler Skaggs (2018)

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
32 2/3 23.4% 7.3% 6.7% 50.5% 3.03 3.00

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 42.0% 92.4 2234 (0.09) 128 101
Sinker 15.5% 92.1 2251 (0.72)
Changeup 10.1% 84.9 1802 (0.65)
Curveball 32.4% 75.6 2768 (1.45) 88 95
*Skaggs’s sinker and changeup do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

Like Richards, Skaggs throws an extremely high spin curveball. It isn’t nearly as effective a pitch as Richards’s, though it helps him keep the ball on the ground, as opposing batters hit a ground ball more than two-thirds of the time they put it into play. His fastball is probably his best pitch. He’ll throw it up in the zone with lots of “rise” to generate an excellent whiff rate. Early this season, he’s been the best pitcher in the Angels rotation. After suffering through numerous injury problems the past four seasons, it’s possible he’s finally healthy and we’re on the verge of seeing him repeat his breakout year in 2014. His ground ball rate is back above 50%, he’s keeping the ball in the yard, and he’s increased his strikeout rate by a couple of points to boot.


RHP Shohei Ohtani (2018)

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
20 1/3 32.1% 11.1% 16.7% 37.0% 4.43 3.84

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 44.4% 97.9 2202 (-0.54) 155 100
Splitter 30.3% 88.2 1323 (-0.79) 188 165
Slider 22.2% 82.8 2322 (-0.38)
Curveball 2.9% 74.4 2406 (-0.56)
*Ohtani’s slider and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

On the mound, Shohei Ohtani has performed as advertised. He’s striking out a ton of batters, he’s struggled with his command at times, and he’s already suffered his first injury scare. We have actual hard data for his pitches now and his arsenal is as impressive as we imagined. He’s already thrown the fastest fastball pitched by a starter this year and his splitter has been absolutely deadly. His slider is still a work in progress. He’s able to get some impressive horizontal movement on the pitch but has had trouble locating it and batters aren’t chasing those pitches out of the zone. Still, even with just two plus plus pitches, he’s shown he has the arsenal to thrive in the majors.


The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Angels 19-12 0.613 -- L-L-W-W-W
Astros 20-13 0.606 -- W-W-L-L-L
Mariners 18-12 0.600 0.5 W-W-W-L-W
Athletics 15-16 0.484 4.0 L-L-L-W-L
Rangers 13-20 0.394 7.0 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 21-10 0.643 +2.0 W-L-W-W-W
Astros 20-13 0.606 -- W-W-L-L-L
Mariners 18-12 0.600 0.5 W-W-W-L-W
Blue Jays 18-14 0.563 1.5 W-W-L-W-L
Athletics 15-16 0.484 4.0 L-L-L-W-L

Like I noted above, the Astros travel to Arizona to face the team with the best record in the National League. Houston won just once in their four-game series against the Yankees, scoring just seven runs during the entire series. The Yankees will look to keep their hot streak alive in a three-game series against Cleveland this weekend. The Athletics return home after their series loss in Seattle to host the worst team in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles.