clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (44-24) vs. Red Sox (47-22)

New, comments

The Mariners play host to Red Sox Nation this weekend.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

When all is said and done, I think the sweep of the Angels this week will be seen as one of the defining moments of this season. I tweeted this out yesterday afternoon but it bears repeating here: the Mariners entered that series against the Angels with a 57% chance of making the playoffs (per FanGraphs). The sweep buried the Angels (17.7% playoff odds) and pushed the Mariners odds over 70% (73.5%). There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, and the Mariners and Angels face each other 13 more times this season, but a 7.5 game deficit will be extremely difficult to overcome.

At a Glance

Red Sox Mariners
Red Sox Mariners
Game 1 Thursday, June 14 | 7:10 pm
LHP David Price RHP Félix Hernández
54% 46%
Game 2 Friday, June 15 | 7:10 pm
RHP Rick Porcello LHP James Paxton
45% 55%
Game 3 Saturday, June 16 | 5:15 pm
RHP Steven Wright LHP Wade LeBlanc
52% 48%
Game 4 Sunday, June 17 | 1:10 pm
LHP Eduardo Rodríguez RHP Mike Leake
53% 47%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Red Sox Edge
Overview Mariners Red Sox Edge
Batting (wRC+) 109 (4th in AL) 111 (3rd in AL) Red Sox
Fielding (UZR) -0.4 (10th) 7.5 (6th) Red Sox
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (6th) 87 (2nd) Red Sox
Bullpen (FIP-) 84 (4th) 79 (3rd) Red Sox

Now comes the hard part. The Angels were always lumped into this stretch of difficult teams but the Red Sox and Yankees are on another level. The Mariners will face the Red Sox seven times in next ten games (hey, that’s almost like a playoff series). Boston was the offseason favorite to win the AL East but they’ve had to fend off the Yankees all season long. With the rest of the teams in the East looking like they’re in various states of rebuilding, the Red Sox are almost guaranteed a playoff spot already. The only question is whether they go in as the division leader or as a Wild Card team.

Red Sox Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Mookie Betts RF R 223 0.333 210 2.6
Andrew Benintendi LF L 295 0.327 153 2.9
J.D. Martinez DH R 277 0.342 174 -0.7
Mitch Moreland 1B L 188 0.322 149 -0.7
Xander Bogaerts SS R 228 0.312 122 0.8
Rafael Devers 3B L 272 0.284 79 1.4
Eduardo Núñez 2B R 245 0.296 69 -4.1
Christian Vázquez C R 173 0.235 44 -1.2
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF L 221 0.242 54 2.8

Their big offseason acquisition, J.D. Martinez, has been a huge upgrade over Hanley Ramírez at designated hitter and Ramírez himself was unceremoniously released earlier this season. Martinez has already launched 22 home runs this season and is posting the highest wRC+ of his career. The biggest difference maker for Boston has been the resurgence of Mookie Betts. After posting a 108 wRC+ last season, Betts has exploded this season, pushing his wRC+ up to 210! That’s the highest mark in the majors and he’s building a decent case to be considered the best player in the American League over Mike Trout.

Probable Pitchers

Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros

LHP David Price

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
74 1/3 23.5% 9.8% 8.5% 41.7% 4.00 3.64

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 10.4% 93.5 2271 (0.27) 92 99
Sinker 37.3% 93.4 2156 (0.20) 126 124
Cutter 30.5% 89.0 2114 (-0.92) 87 143
Changeup 19.0% 85.5 1706 (-0.12) 120 120
Curveball 2.7% 79.4 2219 (-0.89)
*Price’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

David Price suffered his first major injury of his career last year, keeping him off the mound for more than half the season. That snapped a seven year stretch where he averaged over 200 innings and almost 5 fWAR per year. His mysterious elbow injury seems to be fully healed this year but Price hasn’t returned to his previous level of performance yet. The biggest change is a massive jump in walk rate. Price routinely ran walk rates well below average earlier in his career but it’s ballooned to almost 10% this season. Opposing batters aren’t swinging at his pitches outside of the zone as often, and he’s throwing fewer first pitch strikes. Besides those two things, there really isn’t a smoking gun to explain why he’s allowing so many more free passes.


RHP Rick Porcello

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
86 1/3 21.9% 5.5% 8.4% 47.4% 3.54 3.31

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 15.9% 92.2 2449 (1.77) 184 51
Sinker 32.4% 90.6 2370 (1.87) 74 123
Changeup 13.4% 82.0 1670 (-0.31) 58 127
Slider 26.1% 86.9 2578 (0.99) 76 93
Curveball 12.3% 75.7 2817 (1.82) 107 73

It seems like forever ago that Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young award. His follow up campaign last season was a disaster. His strikeout-to-walk ratio barely budged but his home run rate increased by more than 50% and his BABIP allowed ballooned to .324. This season has looked more like his award winning season. He’s gotten his home run rate back under control and he’s suppressed his BABIP too. He’s throwing his slider much more often this year, over 25% of the time now. It not his best pitch by whiff rate or batted ball outcomes but batters have had a hard time squaring it up. The biggest difference for him has been his sinker. Last year, opposing batters posted an ISO of .236 off his sinker. He’s dropped that mark to a miniscule .029 this year, allowing just three doubles off the pitch.


RHP Steven Wright

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
29 2/3 21.6% 13.8% 4.0% 56.2% 1.21 3.57

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 8.0% 83.5 1978 (0.70)
Knuckleball! 88.9% 75.5 N/A (???) 103 130
*Wright’s fastball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

The last of a dying breed, Steven Wright’s knuckleball continues to befuddle opposing batters. He lost most of last year to a knee injury and there were a lot of questions surrounding him entering this season. His health was still up in the air and it looked like he was the sixth or seventh starter on the Red Sox depth chart. But more importantly, he was suspended for a domestic violence arrest over the offseason. He served his time, and continued his rehab and rejoined the Red Sox in mid-May. Since then, he’s compiled a 22 2/3 inning scoreless streak, including two starts. He’ll continue to take a turn in the rotation while Drew Pomeranz is sidelined.


LHP Eduardo Rodríguez

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
71 2/3 26.6% 7.5% 11.7% 41.4% 3.64 3.56

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 44.1% 93.7 2192 (-0.35) 144 83
Sinker 6.3% 93.7 2150 (-0.06)
Cutter 14.9% 89.7 2252 (-0.52) 73 127
Changeup 22.5% 88.0 2082 (1.26) 143 95
Slider 12.2% 85.7 2280 (-0.17) 62 46
*Rodríguez’s sinker does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

A recurring knee injury looms large in Eduardo Rodríguez’s career. He’s lost time the last two seasons to the injury but he’s stayed fully healthy this season. And it’s been a bit of a breakout season for him too. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best it’s ever been and his ERA and FIP have dropped to career bests. He’s introduced a cutter into his repertoire this year at the expense of his fastball. That may seem odd considering the excellent whiff rate he generates with his fastball but it’s given him a fourth pitch to keep opposing batters off balance. His cutter has also helped him increase his ground ball rate by seven points. His best pitch is his changeup and gets a swinging strike with the pitch over 40% of the time batters offer at it.


The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Mariners 44-24 0.647 -- L-W-W-W-W
Astros 44-25 0.632 0.5 W-W-W-W-W
Angels 37-32 0.536 7.5 W-L-L-L-L
Athletics 34-34 0.500 10.0 W-L-W-L-L
Rangers 27-43 0.386 18.0 L-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 43-20 0.683 +2.0 W-W-L-W-L
Astros 44-25 0.632 -- W-W-W-W-W
Angels 37-32 0.536 7.0 W-L-L-L-L
Athletics 34-34 0.500 9.5 W-L-W-L-L
Rays 32-35 0.478 11.0 W-L-W-W-W

The Astros have won the first two games in their series against the Athletics and will go for the sweep this afternoon. Afterwards, Houston will travel to Kansas City to face the Royals this weekend. The Angels are off today and travel to Oakland for a three-game series beginning Friday. The Yankees host the Rays in a four-game series this weekend before hosting the Mariners early next week.