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Series Preview: Mariners (57-34) at Angels (46-45)

The Mariners wrap up the first half of the season with a six-game road trip beginning in Anaheim.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners have gone 34-17 since Robinson Canó’s suspension. That excellent record has hidden an offense that’s struggled to score runs consistently. Sure, they’re scoring runs when they absolutely need them, but overall, the Mariners have scored just 4.1 runs per game without Canó—they were scoring 4.6 per game with him in the lineup. Those struggles were exposed a bit in their series against the Rockies. They left nineteen men on base during the series and couldn’t come up with the big hits they needed until Sunday’s game. With just a week until the All-Star break, maybe a series in Colorado will give them a boost before the second half of the season starts.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Tuesday, July 10 | 7:07 pm
RHP Mike Leake RHP Garrett Richards
48% 52%
Game 2 Wednesday, July 11 | 7:07 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Jaime Barría
50% 50%
Game 3 Thursday, July 12 | 7:07 pm
RHP Félix Hernández TBD
47% 53%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Angels Edge
Overview Mariners Angels Edge
Batting (wRC+) 107 (4th in AL) 102 (7th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) 2.5 (10th) 12.8 (4th) Angels
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 97 (6th) 100 (7th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 88 (5th) 110 (13th) Mariners

After losing the must-win series in Seattle, the Angels returned home to win their weekend series against the Dodgers. It could have easily been worse. They won the first game of the series on a walk-off and managed to win the last game of the series because of a Shohei Ohtani pinch-hit home run. After this repeat series against the Mariners, they’ll “travel” to face the Dodgers again before the All-Star break. They’ll probably need to go at least 4-2 over their next six games to feel okay heading into the second half of the season.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Kole Calhoun RF L 254 0.200 32 -0.9
Andrelton Simmons SS R 329 0.307 126 1.3
Mike Trout CF R 401 0.343 193 3.4
Justin Upton LF R 379 0.300 116 1.3
Albert Pujols 1B R 355 0.255 89 -1.7
Shohei Ohtani DH L 148 0.349 141 0.0
Ian Kinsler 2B R 328 0.204 80 -2.1
Martín Maldonado C R 257 0.313 88 -1.3
David Fletcher 3B R 61 0.327 92 0.2

Conveniently for the Mariners, Mike Trout has been mired in a deep slump for the last couple of weeks. Of course, for Trout, a slump looks like a 110 wRC+ with an OBP over .400. The Mariners held him to just two hits over the three games played in Seattle, though he was walked three times too. It looks like he might be coming out of his slump, as he went 3-4 on Saturday with a home run. With the Mariners treating Trout like Barry Bonds during high leverage situations, the onus falls on Justin Upton to drive the Angels offense. He was held to just one hit in the Seattle series and has really struggled at the plate in July. These two significant slumps could not have come at a worse time for the Angels.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners

RHP Garrett Richards

73 2/3 27.7% 10.6% 16.9% 50.0% 3.42 3.94

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 32.2% 96.4 2629 (3.07) 80 130
Sinker 18.1% 96.6 2549 (3.39) 135 124
Slider 39.0% 89.8 2908 (2.06) 140 120
Curveball 10.7% 81.6 3209 (2.62) 103 111

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.

Because of his injury and the funny quirks of the schedule, Garrett Richards will face the Mariners for a third time in a row on Tuesday night. He returned from the disabled list last week, pitching into the sixth inning on Wednesday. He allowed three runs on four hits—two of them home runs—and struck out eight. He threw 80 pitches in his outing and he should be free to go as deep as he needs to on Tuesday night.

RHP Jaime Barría

61 18.7% 7.5% 13.5% 39.8% 3.39 4.79

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 40.1% 92.2 2179 (-0.16) 73 110
Sinker 6.7% 91.7 2140 (-0.23)
Changeup 19.5% 83.8 1460 (-1.14) 118 134
Slider 33.8% 82.6 2262 (-0.56) 117 118
Barría’s sinker does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

With so many injuries plaguing their pitching staff, Jaime Barría should see an extended stay in the Angels rotation. He’s been called on twelve times this season, usually making spot starts here and there to keep the Angels on a six-day rotation. With that luxury shot after all the injuries they’ve suffered, Barría has shown enough promise to claim a regular spot in the rotation. Barría quickly rose through the minors last season, making appearances in three different levels. His primary calling card has been his excellent command of his four-pitch repertoire. He doesn’t post outlandish strikeout rates but his walk rate is good enough that he can be effective as a major league starter without the K’s. In his twelve major league starts this season, he’s posted an ERA well below his FIP or xFIP. His batted ball luck has been in his favor and he’s stranded more baserunners than expected.

Barría made a spot start against the Mariners on Thursday in place of the injured Tyler Skaggs. He allowed two runs on five hits and three walks across five plus innings. He struck out only one.

LHP Tyler Skaggs

92 26.4% 7.1% 9.9% 47.0% 2.64 3.03

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 42.9% 92.4 2206 (-0.03) 154 92
Sinker 14.5% 91.7 2180 (0.06) 156 119
Changeup 12.3% 84.8 1773 (0.63) 109 84
Curveball 30.3% 75.3 2697 (1.30) 94 96

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.

Skaggs was placed on the disabled list prior to his scheduled start last week in Seattle. He threw a bullpen on Sunday without any issues. It’s possible he’ll be activated for the start on Thursday. If he can’t go, Félix Peña would probably make the start instead.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 61-32 0.656 -- W-W-W-W-L
Mariners 57-34 0.626 3.0 L-W-L-L-W
Athletics 51-40 0.560 9.0 W-L-W-W-W
Angels 46-45 0.505 14.0 W-L-W-L-W
Rangers 40-52 0.435 20.5 W-L-L-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 59-30 0.663 +3.0 L-W-W-L-W
Mariners 57-34 0.626 -- L-W-L-L-W
Athletics 51-40 0.560 6.0 W-L-W-W-W
Rays 46-44 0.511 10.5 L-L-W-W-W
Angels 46-45 0.505 11.0 W-L-W-L-W

After sweeping the White Sox over the weekend and pushing their win streak to six games, the Astros lost to the Athletics last night. That was the first game of a big four-game series between the two AL West clubs. Depending on whether or not you’re worried about the A’s catching the Mariners in the Wild Card race, the result last night was probably good for the M’s. The Yankees split a doubleheader with the Orioles yesterday and continue their series in Baltimore over the next two days. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are building a healthy lead in the AL East after winning their seventh in a row yesterday.