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Series Preview: Mariners (20-20) at Red Sox (19-19)

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The Mariners wrap up their long East Coast road trip with a stop in Boston.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In what’s becoming a recurring theme, the Mariners outscored the Yankees 18-16 across their four-game series, but came away with just a single win. If you look at the Mariners offensive output over the last two weeks, there’s three massive, double-digit blowouts and then a bunch of low scoring games that follow. Even though they’re averaging 4.5 runs per game over the last two weeks, it feels more like they’re averaging around 2.5 runs per game. A huge blowout win is fun every once in a while but they really need to figure out how to spread out these runs.

At a Glance

Mariners Red Sox
Mariners Red Sox
Game 1 Friday, May 10 | 4:10 pm
RHP Erik Swanson LHP Eduardo Rodríguez
39% 61%
Game 2 Saturday, May 11 | 10:05 am
RHP Félix Hernández RHP Rick Porcello
39% 61%
Game 3 Sunday, May 12 | 10:05 am
LHP Marco Gonzales TBD
41% 59%
Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Red Sox Mariners Edge
Overview Red Sox Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 95 (10th in AL) 119 (2nd in AL) Mariners
Fielding (DRS) -3 (9th) -33 (15th) Red Sox
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 101 (8th) 101 (9th) Red Sox
Bullpen (FIP-) 93 (7th) 115 (13th) Red Sox

After their rough start in which they won just seven of their first 20 games, the Boston Red Sox have bounced back with 12 wins in 18 games. Of course, 10 of those wins came against the Tigers, Athletics, White Sox, and Orioles so they weren’t necessarily beating up on the cream of the AL crop. But that hot streak has pushed their record back to .500 along with their run differential. It seems like they’re just now waking up from their World Series hangover.

Red Sox Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Andrew Benintendi LF L 155 0.337 115 0.8
Mookie Betts RF R 168 0.306 139 -1.0
J.D. Martinez DH R 159 0.336 124 -0.5
Xander Bogaerts SS R 158 0.277 111 0.6
Rafael Devers 3B L 155 0.360 111 0.7
Michael Chavis 2B R 71 0.333 177 -0.3
Mitch Moreland 1B L 127 0.178 111 -0.8
Christian Vázquez C R 99 0.294 110 -0.7
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF L 123 0.217 14 0.7

It’s interesting that the Red Sox overall offensive line is 5% below league average but eight of their nine starters have posted an above average line so far. Michael Chavis was only recently called up, but Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Núñez, and a few other role players have really dragged the team down. Chavis has been extremely impressive in his brief time in the majors. He’s crushing the ball, is taking plenty of walks, and has shown great versatility by playing out of position at second base. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have shown signs of breaking out of their early season funk. The power output isn’t there yet, but they’re getting on base a ton. That’s actually a feature of their entire lineup. Eight of their nine regulars have posted a walk rate over 10% so far this year.

Probable Pitchers

LHP Eduardo Rodríguez

36 2/3 25.2% 8.6% 12.9% 47.7% 5.40 3.54
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 44.0% 93.2 2201 104 161 72
Sinker 9.5% 92.9 2194
Cutter 20.1% 88.0 2211 73 143 106
Changeup 20.1% 87.8 2084 80 136 120
Slider 6.3% 79.9 2306
Stuff+ Explainer; Rodríguez’s sinker and slider do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or Pitch Arsenal scores.

From the previous series preview:

A lingering knee injury has prevented Eduardo Rodríguez from putting together a full season on the mound since injuring it back in 2016. He was able to put together his best season of his career last year, posting career-bests in strikeout-to-walk ratio, ERA, and FIP. Much of his success comes via an elevated fastball paired with an excellent changeup. Opposing batters hit just three extra-base hits off his changeup last year. But he’s always struggled to find a consistent third pitch. He’s dabbled with a slider/cutter—the pitch is thrown with the same grip but at different velocities—but he might have settled on the cutter last year. He threw that version of the pitch far more often than the slider and it was effective in limiting hard contact.

Rodríguez has gone all-in on featuring his cutter as his third pitch this year. Not only has it helped him limit hard contact, but he’s also generating a huge number of whiffs with it now. He’s been really unlucky to post such a high ERA—his huge BABIP could be related to the spike in ground balls he’s generated this year.

RHP Rick Porcello

37 20.8% 10.1% 15.9% 40.7% 5.11 5.16
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 31.9% 92.0 2460 66 103 111
Sinker 27.4% 90.4 2337 91 113 97
Changeup 11.4% 82.1 1657
Curveball 9.6% 75.8 2785
Slider 19.8% 85.2 2590 100 77 141
Porcello’s changeup and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or Pitch Arsenal scores.

From the previous series preview:

Rick Porcello has vacillated between good years and bad years since joining the Red Sox in 2015. Last year was a good year, so I guess he’s due for a bad year in 2019. He’s consistently tinkered with his pitch mix since moving to Boston which might explain why his results have swung back and forth so much. Over the last four years, he’s dropped the usage of his sinker year-over-year and started throwing his four-seam fastball far more often. He’s able to generate a much higher whiff rate with the four-seamer but it’s also led to a corresponding drop in his ground ball rate. Last year, he started throwing his slider almost a quarter of the time, though the results didn’t exactly follow. It may have helped his fastball become even more effective however. We’ll see if all that tinkering pays off if he’s able to break that pattern of ups and downs this year.

Porcello’s early season numbers are really skewed by two disastrous outings against the Mariners and the Diamondbacks to start the season. He allowed 16 runs in those two starts and has allowed just 10 in the five starts since.

The Big Picture:

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 23-15 0.605 -- W-W-L-W-W
Mariners 20-20 0.500 4.0 W-L-L-W-L
Rangers 17-18 0.486 4.5 W-W-L-W-L
Angels 17-20 0.459 5.5 L-L-W-L-W
Athletics 17-22 0.436 6.5 L-L-W-W-L

Wild Card

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 22-15 0.595 +1.5 W-W-W-L-W
Cleveland 20-16 0.556 -- L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 20-20 0.500 2.0 W-L-L-W-L
Red Sox 19-19 0.500 2.0 W-W-L-W-W
Rangers 17-18 0.486 4.5 W-W-L-W-L

The Astros started off a four-game series against the Rangers with a thrilling win last night. Both the Angels and the Athletics won their series this week, against the Tigers and the Reds respectively. The Angels travel to Baltimore while the Athletics host Cleveland this weekend.