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Series Preview: Mariners (64-48) at Rangers (49-64)

The Mariners head out on a long, 10-game road trip beginning in Texas.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend had the potential to be enshrined with Lollablueza and Deadgar weekend as extremely disappointing turning points during August. Since the Mariners managed to avoid the sweep on Sunday afternoon, it probably doesn’t compare, but it was still an incredibly disheartening four-game series against the Blue Jays. With the Canadian invasion in the rear-view mirror, the Mariners head out on a ten-game road trip. They’ll face three division rivals, including a four-game series in Houston and a three-game series in Oakland. Maybe getting away from Safeco Field will help them rekindle their offense.

At a Glance

Mariners Rangers
Mariners Rangers
Game 1 Monday, August 6 | 5:05 pm
LHP Wade LeBlanc LHP Martin Pérez
49% 51%
Game 2 Tuesday, August 7 | 5:05 pm
RHP Félix Hernández RHP Bartolo Colón
48% 52%
Game 3 Wednesday, August 8 | 11:05 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Yovani Gallardo
52% 48%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Rangers Edge
Overview Mariners Rangers Edge
Batting (wRC+) 101 (8th in AL) 97 (10th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -2.9 (11th) 10.4 (8th) Rangers
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (6th) 119 (14th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 91 (4th) 92 (5th) Mariners

All of the focus during this road trip will be on the games in Houston and in Oakland but the Mariners shouldn’t overlook the Rangers. They were clear sellers at the trade deadline, but they’ve been playing some decent baseball the past few weeks. They’ve gone 7-3 over their last 10 games which includes a three-game sweep of the Astros a week ago.

They moved a lot of talent from their bullpen last week, dealing Keone Kela to the Pirates and Jake Diekman to the Diamondbacks. They also moved Cole Hamels to the Cubs which means the Mariners managed to avoid a matchup against him this year after seemingly facing him in every series against the Rangers the past few seasons.

Rangers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Shin-Soo Choo DH L 488 0.335 135 0.6
Rougned Odor 2B L 332 0.332 121 -0.2
Elvis Andrus SS R 235 0.304 102 1.4
Adrián Beltré 3B R 322 0.345 93 -0.9
Joey Gallo RF L 425 0.227 107 2.1
Robinson Chirinos C R 312 0.326 112 -1.0
Ronald Guzmán 1B L 298 0.317 86 0.7
Willie Calhoun LF L 55 0.316 74 0.0
Carlos Tocci CF R 77 0.282 9 -0.6

The Rangers held onto all of their position players at the trade deadline because that’s where most of their talent lies. While Adrián Beltré and Shin-Soo Choo probably won’t be part of the next great Rangers team, they’re providing plenty of offensive production this year. After a disastrous season last year and a rough start to this year, Rougned Odor has finally found his offensive stroke. Since the beginning of June, he’s put together a .310/.402/.567 slash line, which translates to a 159 wRC+. The most surprising development is his 10% walk rate during that period, something he’s never been able to accomplish at any point in his career.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers

LHP Martin Pérez

45 2/3 13.6% 9.6% 19.6% 49.4% 6.50 6.21

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 13.0% 92.1 2075 (-0.89) 89 74
Sinker 49.8% 92.6 2021 (-0.84) 98 117
Changeup 18.2% 84.1 1762 (0.28) 96 105
Slider 7.2% 83.3 2287 (0.14)
Curveball 11.7% 77.9 2627 (0.54) 43 54
Pérez’s slider does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

After two relatively healthy seasons, Martin Pérez has spent most of this year on the disabled list. An injury to his non-throwing elbow cut into his preseason work and he missed two months of the season because of elbow inflammation in his left elbow. He returned to the rotation in mid-July but hasn’t really been all that successful. Because he allows so much contact, he’s exactly the kind of pitcher who has been hurt the most by the changing offensive environment the past few seasons. The last three seasons, he’s seen his hard contact rate jump up to 30% and now 44% after managing contact fairly well earlier in his career. With a good ground ball rate, some of that hard contact is mitigated, but he’s also see a ton of balls fly over the fence too. With one of the lowest strikeout rates in the majors, he really needs a ton of good batted ball luck to survive in the “juiced” ball era.

RHP Bartolo Colón

123 1/3 13.6% 4.2% 16.2% 43.0% 5.18 5.15

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 15.4% 90.2 2301 (0.63) 73 90
Sinker 63.8% 87.4 2139 (0.77) 65 84
Cutter 2.7% 86.5 2354 (0.45)
Changeup 10.7% 81.4 1656 (-0.09) 91 124
Slider 7.4% 80.9 2347 (-0.14) 60 125
Colón’s cutter does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Bartolo Colón, the ageless wonder. He’s been in the league long enough that he made two starts in the Division Series against the Mariners the last time they made the playoffs. His career stats go back far enough that we don’t have batted ball stats for the first five years of his career. After posting a 6.48 ERA alongside a 5.21 FIP in 28 starts last season, many thought it would be the end of the line for Colón. Yet he managed to land a deal with the pitching starved Rangers and rewarded us with seven perfect innings against the Astros in April. He relies completely on guile, pitching smarts, and veteran savvy™, commanding his fastball in and around the zone.

Colón has faced the Mariners twice this season. The first meeting, the Mariners were able to score four runs off him and chased him in the sixth inning. The second time they met— right after Robinson Canó was suspended—Colón held them scoreless into the eighth inning. He’s continued to eat up innings for the Rangers like clockwork. Even if it’s never more than mediocre, that kind of consistency is important for a rebuilding club like the Rangers.

RHP Yovani Gallardo

47 14.3% 11.0% 14.3% 46.2% 6.51 5.29

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 32.0% 92.0 2077 (-0.97) 59 95
Sinker 21.7% 91.9 2052 (-0.70) 100 113
Changeup 10.9% 86.8 1833 (0.39) 106 103
Slider 21.8% 89.5 2224 (-0.96) 67 80
Curveball 13.4% 79.9 2383 (-0.54) 90 77

After his ugly season in Seattle, Yovani Gallardo signed on with the Brewers during the spring. He couldn’t crack their rotation and was bounced to the Reds who let him make three relief appearances before cutting him loose. He was picked up by the Rangers and toiled away in Triple-A until they called him up in mid-June. If you need one more reason to ridicule pitcher wins, just look at Gallardo’s line. He’s 6-1 across eight starts for the Rangers despite running an ERA of 5.24 with them. He did pitch back-to-back scoreless starts against Cleveland and Houston right after the All-Star break but was knocked around by the Orioles in his last start. His strikeout rate has fallen even further this year and he’s continued to struggle with his command and with the long ball. So, basically, the same things he struggled with in Seattle.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 71-42 0.628 -- W-W-W-W-L
Athletics 67-46 0.593 4.0 W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 64-48 0.571 6.5 L-L-L-L-W
Angels 55-58 0.487 16.0 L-L-W-L-L
Rangers 49-64 0.434 22.0 L-W-W-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 68-42 0.618 +2.5 L-L-L-L-L
Athletics 67-46 0.593 -- W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 64-48 0.571 2.5 L-L-L-L-W
Rays 56-56 0.500 10.5 W-W-L-L-L
Angels 55-58 0.487 16.0 L-L-W-L-L

The Wild Card race just became a little more interesting after the Yankees were swept in four games by the Red Sox. They’ve lost five straight and are just 2.5 games ahead of the A’s and 5 games ahead of the Mariners. They’ll travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox, looking to regain some breathing room over the two AL West challengers. The Athletics held the Tigers to just one run during their three-game set over the weekend, sweeping them and winning their sixth in a row. They’re off today and will host the Dodgers for two games beginning tomorrow. The Astros won their World Series rematch against the Dodgers over the weekend and will travel to San Francisco for a brief two-game set this week.