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Series Preview: Mariners (74-57) at Padres (50-83)

The Mariners travel to San Diego for a quick two-game series.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, a series win against a division-leading team in the middle of August would be cause for excitement. But this season is unlike any other. Despite taking two of three from the Diamondbacks, the Mariners actually lost a game in the standings as both the Astros and Athletics won all three of their games over the weekend. Pulling off a gutty series win with nothing to show for it is extremely disappointing, especially considering how the final game in the series ended. With the A’s and the Astros battling it out in Houston this week, one of those teams will lose each day. The Mariners need to take care of their own business against the worst team in the National League.

At a Glance

Mariners Padres
Mariners Padres
Game 1 Tuesday, August 28 | 7:10 pm
RHP Félix Hernández RHP Jacob Nix
52% 48%
Game 2 Wednesday, August 29 | 12:40 pm
TBD LHP Joey Lucchesi
54% 46%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Padres Edge
Overview Mariners Padres Edge
Batting (wRC+) 100 (8th in AL) 84 (14th in NL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -10.9 (12th) -25.0 (13th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (6th) 119 (14th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 96 (7th) 84 (1st) Padres

With Marco Gonzales placed on the disabled list yesterday, the Mariners starter for Wednesday is up in the air. James Paxton threw a successful bullpen in Arizona over the weekend and looks to be ready to come off the disabled list. The Mariners would do well to keep him sidelined until the series in Oakland. With the off day yesterday, Erasmo Ramírez could make the start on regular rest. I’d rather see Ramírez keep his regularly scheduled start on Thursday in Oakland and call up a spot starter on Wednesday. Ramírez has been one of the Mariners best starters since coming off the disabled list a few weeks ago. I think stacking the rotation for the series in Oakland would be more important than a single game against the Padres. Really, every single game from here on out is extremely important, but the series against Oakland might be the most important series of the season.

The Padres have spent the last few years building one of the best farm systems in baseball. They currently have nine prospects on’s top 100 list, including the second best prospect in baseball, Fernando Tatís Jr. Some of that future talent will be introduced during this series as their fourth ranked prospect, Luis Urías, is expected to be called up to make his debut today. Most of that talent is still a year or two away. In the meantime, the Padres are on pace to lose more than 100 games, the third season in a row where they’ve lost 90 or more.

Padres Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Travis Jankowski RF L 331 0.321 90 2.7
Wil Myers 3B R 229 0.343 115 3.0
Eric Hosmer 1B L 556 0.309 92 -3.4
Hunter Renfroe LF R 319 0.291 116 -0.8
Cory Spangenberg 2B L 278 0.335 88 2.3
Austin Hedges C R 247 0.295 91 -1.4
Freddy Galvis SS S 533 0.296 83 -0.2
Manuel Margot CF R 434 0.288 81 -0.8

Even with all that talent in the minors, it was a little surprising to see them spend a ton of money to bring in Eric Hosmer this offseason. Rather than an indication that they’re ready to compete sooner rather than later, it seems like this was a situation similar to Jayson Werth signing in Washington back in 2011. The idea is that Hosmer will provide a veteran presence for all the youngsters coming up through the organization. The problem is Hosmer hasn’t exactly held up his end of the bargain. He’s been one of the worst first basemen in baseball this season, posting an ugly 92 wRC+ with -0.7 fWAR. Even though it feels like he’s been in the league a while, Wil Myers is just 27 and should be a key player for the next great Padres team. He’s dealt with a few injuries this year and was displaced from his position at first base by Hosmer. He’s a serviceable outfielder but is now being asked to man third base after Christian Villanueva was injured for the rest of the season.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Padres

RHP Jacob Nix

11 2/3 12.7% 9.1% 9.1% 61.0% 6.17 4.61

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 64.6% 94.1 2257 (0.00) 78 108
Changeup 15.0% 81.3 2363 (2.99)
Slider 3.1% 81.9 N/A
Curveball 17.3% 77.5 2049 (-1.56)
Nix’s changeup, slider, and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores. His slider does not have a large enough sample size for spin rate data.

A few years ago, FanGraphs ranked Jacob Nix the seventh best prospect in the Padres system. This last offseason, he had dropped to 16th. Maybe that’s more a reflection of the incredible strength of San Deigo’s organization than Nix’s prospect luster washing off. He profiles as a back-end starter with the potential for more if everything breaks right, but has struggled with injuries the past few years, sapping him of critical development time. He doesn’t strikeout all that many but commands a mid-90s fastball paired with a nice curveball. He posted a 2.05/3.31/3.84 pitcher slash line in Double-A with a great strikeout-to-walk ratio this year and was called up to the majors a few weeks ago. He’s made three starts for the Padres, sandwiching a disastrous outing against the Diamondbacks between two decent starts.

LHP Joey Lucchesi

98 2/3 25.2% 8.4% 19.3% 46.4% 3.74 4.32

Pitch Arsenal

Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity (mph) Spin Rate (z-score) Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 64.5% 91.1 2233 (0.71) 141 103
Curveball 35.5% 79.6 2063 (-1.67) 128 79

Joey Lucchesi was ranked higher than Nix this past offseason but you wouldn’t know it just looking at his raw stuff. He throws a rather generic looking low-90s fastball and a loopy curveball, but his pitch arsenal scores are off the charts. Indeed, he has a ton of funk in his delivery. Every movement is exaggerated before dropping low and then coming over the top with an extreme overhand delivery. All that commotion creates enough deception for him to generate whiff rates that far outpace what would be normally expected. And even though his mechanics look herky-jerky, he’s athletic enough to repeat them consistently giving him excellent command of his pitches. He spent a little time on the disabled list earlier this season with a hip injury but has shown enough promise this year to secure his place in the Padres future.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 81-50 0.618 -- W-W-W-W-W
Athletics 79-53 0.598 2.5 L-W-W-W-L
Mariners 74-57 0.565 7.0 L-L-W-W-L
Angels 64-68 0.485 17.5 L-L-L-L-W
Rangers 58-74 0.439 23.5 L-W-W-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 83-48 0.634 +4.5 W-W-W-W-L
Athletics 79-53 0.598 -- L-W-W-W-L
Mariners 74-57 0.565 4.5 L-L-W-W-L
Rays 70-61 0.534 8.5 W-W-W-W-W
Angels 64-68 0.485 15.0 L-L-L-L-W

The A’s and Astros started a three-game series in Houston yesterday. Oakland got off to a strong start leading 4-0 by the top of the third but the Astros struck back in the bottom of the inning for five runs. They led the rest of the way and tacked on six more runs in eighth. Edwin Jackson and Charlie Morton match up this evening. Because the Mariners are closer in the standings to the Athletics (and have more games against them remaining on the schedule), a sweep by the Astros would be ideal. Don’t look now but the Rays are closer to the Mariners than the Mariners are to the A’s. Tampa Bay has won eight straight, sweeping the Red Sox over the weekend. They’re starting a two-game series in Atlanta this afternoon.