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Series Preview: Mariners (58-36) at Rockies (48-45)

The Mariners wrap up the first half of the season with a three-game series in Denver.

Colorado Rockies v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Instead of heading into the All-Star break with a ton of confidence and a head of steam, the Mariners are sort of limping through these last few weeks of the first half. Losing the series to the Angels yesterday is less concerning than the injury James Paxton suffered in his abbreviated start. Luckily, he has a while to heal up before the Mariners need to call on him again (the same goes for Félix). At this point, the Mariners would be happy to just get to the All-Star break to earn some much needed rest.

At a Glance

Mariners Rockies
Mariners Rockies
Game 1 Friday, July 13 | 5:40 pm
RHP Christian Bergman RHP Antonio Senzatela
48% 52%
Game 2 Saturday, July 14 | 6:10 pm
LHP Wade LeBlanc TBD
49% 51%
Game 3 Sunday, July 15 | 12:10 pm
RHP Mike Leake LHP Tyler Anderson
46% 54%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Rockies Edge
Overview Mariners Rockies Edge
Batting (wRC+) 105 (5th in AL) 86 (14th in NL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) 2.5 (10th) -4.5 (9th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 99 (6th) 96 (4th) Rockies
Bullpen (FIP-) 92 (5th) 102 (12th) Mariners

I think the Rockies surprised everyone when they won the three-game series in Seattle last week. It wasn’t an offensive explosion that drove their success, it was their pitching staff. In the 10 games they’ve played in July, they’ve held their opponents to just 2.5 runs per game, and six of those games were played at home. That’s pretty out of the ordinary considering they’ve allowed 5.9 runs per game while playing in Coors Field this year. They just won a series against the Diamondbacks that included a 19-2 drubbing on Wednesday.

Chad Bettis was on track to make a start on Saturday, but a setback with the blister he was dealing with means he won’t be able to. Jon Gray would be on five days rest but I’m not sure the Rockies want to recall him from his minor league exile just yet. It’s possible they’ll just go with a bullpen day, especially since we’re so close to the All-Star break.

Rockies Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
DJ LeMahieu 2B R 320 0.300 87 -1.0
Charlie Blackmon CF L 393 0.313 110 -1.5
Nolan Arenado 3B R 382 0.335 147 -1.1
Carlos González RF L 267 0.326 93 1.1
Trevor Story SS R 392 0.353 123 0.2
Gerardo Parra LF L 288 0.335 82 0.7
Ian Desmond 1B R 359 0.254 84 0.0
Chris Iannetta C R 219 0.296 85 -1.4

After struggling for much of the year, Carlos González has begun to come alive recently. He had five hits in Seattle, including a home run and hit a couple more in their 19-2 rout against the Diamondbacks. Over the last few years, González hasn’t been able to replicate the impressive power numbers he posted earlier in his career. But like all Rockies hitters, he’s been much better at home than on the road. A big sophomore slump for Trevor Story dampened some of the excitement he generated during his rookie season. But this year, he’s bounced back to the offensive levels he showed off in 2016. The biggest difference has been a nine point drop in his strikeout rate.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies

RHP Antonio Senzatela

30 1/3 15.2% 6.8% 9.7% 54.0% 5.34 4.19

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 67.0% 95.1 2121 (-1.24) 88 127
Slider 23.8% 84.3 2184 (-0.90) 78 113
Curveball 3.2% 79.0 2356 (-0.56)
Senzatela’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Antonio Senzatela made the jump from Double-A to the majors last season, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. With a two-pitch repertoire, he’s probably stretched a little too thin as a starter. But he gets the most out of those two pitches, a sinking four-seam fastball and a slider. Like many of the Rockies starters, he generates a ton of ground ball contact and manages to limit walks fairly well. His slider plays up away from Coors Field, getting a little more break away from the thin air. That translates to more whiffs on the road and a higher strikeout rate. With Jon Gray demoted to Triple-A for some baffling reason, Senzatela has been inserted back into the Rockies rotation.

Senzatela allowed six runs in six innings in his start against the Mariners last week. He was erratic at first but was able to settle down until the sixth inning.

LHP Tyler Anderson

107 2/3 23.0% 8.3% 13.6% 37.0% 3.76 4.25

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 39.4% 92.6 2221 (0.00) 99 85
Sinker 7.9% 92.0 2195 (0.35) 137 164
Cutter 27.1% 88.1 2433 (0.48) 117 124
Changeup 22.3% 82.0 1834 (0.63) 138 128
Curveball 3.3% 75.2 2374 (-0.16)
Anderson’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Tyler Anderson is one of the few Rockies starters who does not possess an above average ground ball rate. And as you’d expect, a fly ball heavy approach has really hurt him when he’s pitching at home. He’s actually allowing more fly balls at home than on the road, leading to a ton of dingers. But despite all that, he’s managed to keep his home ERA right around 4.00. That’s because his pitch repertoire helps him generate a ton of pop ups as well. That’s helped him keep his BABIP fairly low to along with the regular BABIP suppression that comes with a fly ball oriented profile. He’s also oddly running a reverse platoon split. Relying on a changeup and a fairly straight cutter as his primary secondary offerings, left-handed batters have been able to hit him well this season (.364 wOBA).

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 62-34 0.646 -- W-L-W-L-L
Mariners 58-36 0.617 3.0 L-W-L-W-L
Athletics 53-41 0.564 8.0 W-W-L-W-W
Angels 48-46 0.511 13.0 L-W-W-L-W
Rangers 40-54 0.426 21.0 L-W-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 61-31 0.663 +4.0 L-W-L-W-W
Mariners 58-36 0.617 -- L-W-L-W-L
Athletics 53-41 0.564 5.0 W-W-L-W-W
Rays 48-45 0.516 9.5 W-W-W-W-L
Angels 48-46 0.511 10.0 L-W-W-L-W

Yesterday, the Athletics wrapped up their series win in Houston, taking three of four from the Astros. I’m not sure whether or not that’s a good thing for the Mariners. The A’s have cut the Wild Card deficit to just five games but the Mariners are still just three games behind the Astros. The A’s will “travel” to San Francisco this weekend while the Astros host the Tigers. The Angels will wrap up their first half with a series against the Dodgers in LA.