clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (76-61) vs. Orioles (40-97)

The Mariners return home for a nice, easy series against the Orioles.

Baltimore Orioles v Kansas City Royals Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

After all the hype and anticipation, tension and drama, the Mariners are back to where they started before that critical series in Oakland. The standings didn’t budge. And ending the series on a sour note makes it feel even worse. There’s still a narrow path to the playoffs but without a series win in Oakland, that path became much more difficult. The Mariners have really struggled to take care of business when they’ve needed to in the second half of the season. Trusting them to control their own destiny and hoping for some extremely good luck is a fool’s errand. But then again, the A’s play host to the Yankees this week while the Mariners host the worst team in the American League. There’s room to make up some ground in these next three games if you can stomach rooting for the Yankees.

At a Glance

Orioles Mariners
Orioles Mariners
Game 1 Monday, September 3 | 6:10 pm
LHP Josh Rogers RHP Erasmo Ramírez
35% 65%
Game 2 Tuesday, September 4 | 7:10 pm
RHP Alex Cobb LHP Wade LeBlanc
35% 65%
Game 3 Wednesday, September 5 | 7:10 pm
TBD RHP Mike Leake
34% 66%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Mariners Orioles Edge
Overview Mariners Orioles Edge
Batting (wRC+) 100 (9th in AL) 88 (13th) Mariners
Fielding (UZR) -10.9 (12th) -50.2 (15th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 99 (6th) 117 (13th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 95 (8th) 106 (12th) Mariners

The Orioles come into town with the worst record in the American League. There’s a real possibility they’ll reach 100 losses in the first week of September. Everyone except the Orioles saw the need to start their rebuilding process a year ago but they tried to hold their window open for a season too long. They’ve finally embraced their reality, trading away Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, and Zach Britton prior to the trade deadline. They received a pretty good haul of prospects in return but it’s not nearly enough. They have a lot of hard work on the horizon if they’re serious about building a team strong enough to compete with the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Orioles Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Cedric Mullins CF S 81 0.309 124 0.5
Jonathan Villar 2B S 409 0.339 92 1.7
Trey Mancini DH R 534 0.283 94 0.3
Adam Jones RF R 530 0.317 102 -0.6
Chris Davis 1B L 473 0.245 53 -1.1
Tim Beckham SS R 337 0.278 76 -1.0
Renato Núñez 3B R 181 0.301 80 -0.3
Joey Rickard LF R 170 0.268 92 1.5
Caleb Joseph C R 240 0.262 49 -0.6

If the rumors are to be believed, the market for Adam Jones was strong enough to move him this year. Instead, he exercised his 10-and-5 rights, stating he wouldn’t approve a trade under any circumstances. For some, it was a foolhardy decision, basically giving up the chance to play for a contender instead of a team going nowhere. To make things even more complicated, he’s a free agent after this season and it’s extremely unlikely Baltimore will resign him if they’re embarking on a full-scale rebuild. But his loyalty to the city of Baltimore and the relationships he’s built in the community were a significant factor for him. That’s praiseworthy stuff. On the field, Jones has finally made the shift from center to right field where his fading defensive abilities shouldn’t be as much of a liability.

Probable Pitchers

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles

LHP Josh Rogers (Triple-A)

139 2/3 17.1% 6.1% 9.1% 41.0% 3.54 4.21

Josh Rogers is an object lesson in comparing two very different organizations. He came to the Orioles from the Yankees in the Zach Britton trade. With New York, he had risen quickly through their organization, passing through five different levels over four years. But he had stalled out in Triple-A this year because of the enormous amount of major-league-ready depth the Yankees have accumulated. As a lefty without overwhelming stuff, he relies on pinpoint command to find success. That’s good enough to get by in the upper minor leagues, and should prove useful in the majors as a fifth starter or swing man but there’s not much upside. For the Orioles, Rogers is simply one of the few pitchers who might be capable of pitching in the majors for them right now. Their pitching depth is paper thin and they want to see what they have in Rogers sooner rather than later.

RHP Alex Cobb

144 1/3 15.6% 6.2% 15.0% 49.4% 5.11 4.76

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 51.2% 92.6 2118 (-0.74) 62 115
Splitter 26.4% 86.9 1637 (-1.09) 82 85
Curveball 22.4% 82.0 2569 (0.12) 79 97

Through the first three months of the season, Alex Cobb just didn’t have it going on. He had a 6.75/5.18/4.60 pitcher slash line through June and his four-year contract signed during the offseason was looking dreadful. But in July, something happened. He’s posted a 3.36/4.32/4.28 slash line in the two months since, finally looking like a capable major league pitcher. The secret? His splitter. Developed while he was with the Rays—and nicknamed “The Thing”—Cobb’s splitter has been notoriously fickle. His feel for the pitch comes and goes, and with a limited repertoire otherwise, he really suffers when it goes. Since the beginning of July, he’s added almost three inches of depth to his splitter, getting it closer to where it was when he was with the Rays. Even with an improved splitter, his peripherals haven’t improved all that much. His home run rate has dropped but his strikeout rate is basically unchanged. Still, the lower ERA with the improved splitter is undeniable, even if it’s more the result of better luck than an actual change in skill.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 84-53 0.613 -- W-L-L-W-W
Athletics 82-56 0.594 2.5 L-L-W-L-W
Mariners 76-61 0.555 8.0 L-W-L-W-L
Angels 66-71 0.482 18.0 L-W-W-L-L
Rangers 60-77 0.438 24.0 L-L-L-W-W

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 86-51 0.628 +4.5 L-L-W-W-L
Athletics 82-56 0.594 -- L-L-W-L-W
Mariners 76-61 0.555 5.5 L-W-L-W-L
Rays 73-63 0.537 8.0 L-W-L-W-W
Angels 66-71 0.482 18.0 L-W-W-L-L

Like I mentioned above, the A’s host the Yankees this week. New York has basically matched the A’s game-for-game in the standings, holding at least a four-game lead for the first Wild Card spot for most of the summer. The Mariners are hoping for a sweep by the Yankees, or at least a series win. The Astros split their four-game series against the Angels over the weekend. They host the Twins this week while the Angels travel to Arlington to face the Rangers.