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Series Preview: Mariners (60-40) vs. Giants (51-50)

The Mariners host the Giants for a brief two-game series this week.

Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Even though the All-Star break was just last week, the Mariners will benefit from two off days this week. This brief two-game series against the Giants sits between them and then the Mariners begin a pretty grueling stretch of play. Beginning on Friday, they’ll play 20 games in a row, including a long road trip through Texas and Oakland. This isn’t like that stretch in June where they play the cream of the crop in the American League, though there are seven games against the Astros and three against the Athletics mixed in. If everything goes alright during these next 22 games (including the Giants series), the Mariners should be able to continue to add to their record, maybe pushing 22 or 23 games over .500 by the end of it. That should be good enough to stay ahead of the A’s.

At a Glance

Giants Mariners
Giants Mariners
Game 1 Tuesday, July 24 | 7:10 pm
LHP Andrew Suárez LHP James Paxton
42% 58%
Game 2 Wednesday, July 25 | 1:10 pm
TBD RHP Mike Leake
46% 54%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Giants Edge
Overview Mariners Giants Edge
Batting (wRC+) 103 (6th in AL) 101 (7th in NL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -2.9 (11th) -20.8 (13th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 99 (6th) 107 (11th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 89 (5th) 90 (4th) Mariners

The Mariners finish their split home-and-home series against the Giants this week. They played each other all the way back in early April during the second series of the season. Since then, the Giants have hung around near .500, keeping pace in the NL West but never really challenging for the division lead. Because of the parity found in the National League, they’ve never really fallen out of the postseason picture—they’re just five games back in the Wild Card race.

Still, a record right around .500 has to be disappointing for the Giants. They added a number of big name players to their roster this offseason but injuries and age have conspired to derail their season. Their pitching staff has taken the brunt of the bad injury luck. Their big three starters, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija, have all spent significant time on the disabled list and haven’t been very effective when they are on the mound. It’s pretty telling that their team leader in innings pitched is Derek Holland. He’s an option to make a spot start on Wednesday along with Dereck Rodríguez or Chris Stratton.

Giants Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Steven Duggar CF L 39 0.409 68 0.8
Brandon Belt 1B L 355 0.323 133 2.0
Andrew McCutchen RF R 423 0.316 112 -2.9
Brandon Crawford SS L 385 0.339 115 0.0
Buster Posey C R 352 0.311 110 -2.2
Evan Longoria 3B R 270 0.277 91 0.8
Alen Hanson 2B S 181 0.308 113 1.6
Gorkys Hernández LF R 293 0.339 107 -1.3

Even though he didn’t make the All-Star team (RIP #BelttheBallot), Brandon Belt has carried the Giants offense all season long. He’s cut his strikeout rate to a career low this year. Combine that with his elite walk rate, decent power and great defense at first and you’ve got one of the more underrated first basemen in the National League. The Giants All-Star representative, Brandon Crawford, is putting up a career year. Most of his offensive improvements stem from a career-high BABIP. The rest of the big names in the Giants lineup have all been varying degrees of disappointing. Evan Longoria has been sidelined with a fractured hand, though he should return from the disabled list this week. Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey have seen their power numbers dry up this year giving them both a pretty hollow batting line.

Probable Pitchers

San Francicso Giants v Colorado Rockies

LHP Andrew Suárez

89 22.6% 5.8% 14.3% 52.4% 3.94 3.52

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 51.3% 93.1 1985 (-1.76) 67 102
Changeup 11.2% 86.7 1739 (-0.02) 80 112
Slider 24.2% 89.9 2138 (-1.42) 85 114
Curveball 13.3% 78.4 2449 (-0.11) 81 69

Andrew Suárez has taken advantage of all the injuries in the Giants rotation to prove himself in the majors. He’s been one of the Giants best pitching prospects since being drafted in the second round in 2015. Moving quickly through the organization, he made it to Triple-A last year, using his excellent command of his four pitch repertoire to carve through the minor leagues. The most surprising development in the majors has been his above average strikeout rate. Like Marco Gonzales and Wade LeBlanc, he gets a ton of called strikes, propping up his strikeout rate despite a pretty mediocre whiff rate. His fastball is pretty interesting too. He generates a decent amount of rise with it even though it has one of the lowest spin rates of any four-seam fastball thrown in the majors. That low spin rate allows him to generate a ton of ground ball contact with the pitch despite its vertical movement.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 66-36 0.647 -- W-L-W-W-L
Mariners 60-40 0.600 5.0 L-L-W-L-W
Athletics 58-43 0.574 7.5 W-L-W-W-W
Angels 50-51 0.495 15.5 L-L-L-W-L
Rangers 42-59 0.416 23.5 L-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 63-35 0.643 +4.0 W-L-L-W-L
Mariners 60-40 0.600 -- L-L-W-L-W
Athletics 58-43 0.574 2.5 W-L-W-W-W
Rays 51-49 0.510 9.0 L-L-L-W-W
Angels 50-51 0.495 10.5 L-L-L-W-L

The Astros won their series in Anaheim over the weekend, though they were blown out 14-5 in the last game of the series. They travel to Colorado for a brief two-game series. The Athletics narrowly won their series against the Giants with two walk-off wins in a row. They started a four-game series against the Rangers yesterday, blowing them out 15-3. The Angels lost the first game of a four-game set against the White Sox last night.