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Series Preview: Mariners (46-26) at Yankees (47-22)

The Mariners begin a long, East Coast road trip with a three-game series against the Yankees.

MLB: New York Yankees at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A 5-2 record on their recent homestand is probably the best the Mariners could have hoped for. Of course the Astros are in the midst of an insane 12-game win streak which should only continue through the All-Star break—they won’t play a team with a record over .500 until July 20. The Mariners, on the other hand, continue their stretch of difficulty with a long, East Coast road trip beginning in New York. Any struggles the Mariners face against the Yankees or Red Sox should be alleviated by a four-game series against the Orioles at the back end of the trip.

At a Glance

Mariners Yankees
Mariners Yankees
Game 1 Tuesday, June 19 | 4:05 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Domingo Germán
42% 58%
Game 2 Wednesday, June 20 | 4:05 pm
RHP Félix Hernández RHP Jonathan Loaisiga
41% 59%
Game 3 Thursday, June 21 | 10:05 pm
LHP James Paxton RHP Luis Severino
38% 62%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Red Sox Edge
Overview Mariners Red Sox Edge
Batting (wRC+) 108 (4th in AL) 116 (2nd in AL) Yankees
Fielding (UZR) -0.1 (11th) 7.9 (7th) Yankees
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (5th) 90 (4th) Yankees
Bullpen (FIP-) 87 (4th) 69 (2nd) Yankees

The Yankees spent a ton of prospect capital to upgrade their roster this offseason. Their big move was to bring in Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, but they also acquired Brandon Drury from the Diamondbacks and international bonus slot money in a failed quest to acquire Shohei Ohtani. And despite moving all those players, the Yankees still have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Their two latest graduates are Miguel Andújar and Gleyber Torres and they’re both currently raking in the majors.

In the past, the Yankees have been despised for their ability to buy any player they wanted in Free Agency. It’s a testament to the Yankees player development and scouting departments that that perception has fallen by the wayside the past few years. They still have all the monetary resources they had before, which is why they were able to afford Stanton’s massive contract, but their roster is largely home grown now—either through prospects graduating to the majors or significant trade acquisitions made using that minor league talent.

Yankees Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Brett Gardner LF L 269 0.300 105 3.6
Aaron Judge RF R 306 0.359 158 0.2
Didi Gregorius SS L 278 0.247 119 2.0
Giancarlo Stanton DH R 301 0.321 118 1.3
Greg Bird 1B L 76 0.261 109 -0.3
Gary Sánchez C R 248 0.203 100 0.8
Aaron Hicks CF S 224 0.264 118 2.8
Miguel Andújar 3B R 239 0.322 120 -0.7
Gleyber Torres 2B R 188 0.330 140 -1.3

Speaking of home grown talent, Aaron Judge just continues to destroy major league pitching. He hasn’t matched the heights of his breakout year last season but he’s clearly established himself as one of the best power hitters in the league. Gary Sánchez, on the other hand, has really struggled this season. He’s still hitting for power but his BABIP has cratered with a significant increase in his fly ball rate. Giancarlo Stanton has also had a difficult time following up on his MVP year last season. His strikeout rate has ballooned to 31.6% and he’s walking much less often. It’s possible he’s still adjusting to the new league.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

RHP Domingo Germán

53 1/3 27.8% 9.3% 17.0% 39.3% 5.23 4.27

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 27.3% 95.5 2479 (1.39 190 97
Sinker 16.3% 95.6 2469 (2.28) 136 97
Changeup 18.8% 88.3 2383 (2.72) 137 78
Curveball 37.6% 82.7 2510 (-1.13) 137 106

Domingo Germán’s first major league start could not have gone any better. He held Cleveland hitless over six innings, striking out nine. Since then, he hasn’t really lived up to that promise he showed back in early May. He’s allowed 26 runs in 33 innings across six starts. The 25-year-old moved quickly through the Yankees organization the last two years, making appearances in four different levels, including just 76 innings at Triple-A. So maybe these struggles on the biggest stage shouldn’t be all that surprising. Germán possesses a repertoire blessed with extremely high spin. His high-spin sinker and changeup are interesting since the lack of spin on those two pitch types usually indicates better depth to the pitch. Instead of sinking, Germán’s sinker and changeup have an incredible amount of arm-side run to them. He’s also buying into the Yankees anti-fastball agenda, increasing the usage of his curveball once he joined the rotation.

RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (Double-A)

25 31.4% 2.9% 21.1% 42.4% 4.32 3.27

Jonathan Loaisiga was never ranked on any prospect lists. He had never pitched above Low-A prior to this year. He had only made six starts at Double-A this season, posting a 4.32 ERA at the level. Despite all this, the Yankees called him up last week to make a spot start in place of the injured Masahiro Tanaka. All things considered, he was extremely impressive. He held the Rays scoreless over five innings, allowing seven baserunners, and striking out six. His path to the majors is actually pretty inspiring. He was cut by the Giants three years after being signed out of Nicaragua because of a long list of injury woes. He was signed by the Yankees in 2016 and almost immediately required Tommy John surgery with his new organization. Finally healthy, he’s throwing his fastball around 96 miles per hour to go along with a nasty curveball with tons of late break.

RHP Luis Severino

99 30.8% 6.5% 6.3% 45.8% 2.09 2.18

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 48.7% 98.3 2357 (0.40) 136 105
Changeup 13.3% 88.0 1625 (-0.72) 78 112
Slider 38.0% 88.5 2897 (2.23) 115 119

Luis Severino broke out in a big way last year. His strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked ninth among qualified starting pitchers, and his park adjusted FIP was 33% better than average and fourth best in the majors. Those were pretty significant improvements after two disappointing seasons in the majors. The biggest difference for him has been the evolution of his changeup. Even though he only throws it around 15% of the time, it gives him a third pitch in his repertoire, helping him keep left-handed batters honest. The rest of his arsenal is elite. He can get his fastball up to triple digits at times and it’s natural “rising” action helps him get a ton of whiffs at the top of the strike zone. He pairs that heater with a nasty slider located down in the zone. That three-pitch repertoire has helped him become one of the best pitchers in baseball.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 49-25 0.662 -- W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 46-26 0.639 2.0 W-L-W-W-L
Angels 38-35 0.521 10.5 L-W-L-L-L
Athletics 36-36 0.500 12.0 L-L-L-W-W
Rangers 30-44 0.405 19.0 L-L-W-W-W

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Red Sox 49-24 0.671 +2.5 W-W-L-L-W
Mariners 46-26 0.639 -- W-L-W-W-L
Angels 38-35 0.521 8.5 L-W-L-L-L
Athletics 36-36 0.500 10.0 L-L-L-W-W
Tigers 36-37 0.493 10.5 W-W-W-W-W

I mentioned the Astros 12-game win streak in the lede but they only managed to keep it alive last night with a walk-off win against the Rays. After being swept by the Mariners last week, the Angels have won just once. They lost their weekend series against the Athletics and lost the first game of a two-game series against the Diamondbacks last night. The Tigers refuse to go quietly into the night. They’ve won five straight and are just a game under .500. Of course, they’re much closer to the AL Central division leader than they are to the second Wild Card spot.