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Series Preview: Mariners (28-41) at Twins (43-21)

The Mariners annual trip to Minnesota thankfully comes later than April this year.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Mariners won a series! Their series win against the Angels over the weekend was the first series the Mariners have won since sweeping a two-game set back on May 13-14 against Oakland. It was the first series of three games or more that they’ve won since April 18-21, also against the Angels. There will be those few who want to see the Mariners tank as hard as possible in this lost season, but winning a few games here and there isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If only to make watching this team less of a excercise in nihilism and to provide some fun and excitement during this summer.

At a Glance

Mariners Twins
Mariners Twins
Game 1 Tuesday, June 11 | 5:10 pm
RHP Mike Leake LHP Martín Pérez
41% 59%
Game 2 Wednesday, June 12 | 5:10 pm
LHP Tommy Milone RHP José Berríos
34% 66%
Game 3 Thursday, June 13 | 10:10 am
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Michael Pineda
39% 61%
Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Twins Mariners Edge
Overview Twins Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 124 (1st in AL) 111 (4th in AL) Twins
Fielding (DRS) 39 (2nd) -60 (15th) Twins
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 88 (2nd) 119 (14th) Twins
Bullpen (FIP-) 92 (6th) 114 (13th) Twins

The Twins success this season might be one of the better storylines during this weird year. They’re tied for the best record in baseball and have shown no signs of slowing down. Their powerful offense has received most of the headlines but they’ve also been one of the stingiest run prevention units in the majors too. They’re scoring a major-league-best 6 runs per game but have only allowed 4.2 runs per game, giving them the best run differential in the majors.

Twins Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Max Kepler RF L 252 0.251 128 -1.0
Jorge Polanco SS S 275 0.364 152 0.1
Nelson Cruz DH R 167 0.341 140 -1.3
Eddie Rosario LF L 261 0.251 119 -1.0
C.J. Cron 1B R 237 0.300 129 -0.4
Miguel Sanó 3B R 75 0.313 142 0.2
Jonathan Schoop 2B R 223 0.280 102 0.7
Jason Castro C L 106 0.310 145 0.1
Byron Buxton CF R 213 0.321 120 2.1

When your cleanup hitter has already nearly matched his career high in home runs but still has the second lowest wRC+ in the lineup, you know things are going really well. Eddie Rosario has improved his power output exponentially this year—he’s on pace to launch over 40 bombs—but an abnormally low BABIP has held his overall offensive contribution down. He’s cut his strikeout rate to a career low which should portend a really strong second half of the season if his BABIP regresses upwards towards his career norms. Getting a healthy Miguel Sanó back has sadly bumped Willians Astudillo from the roster but Sanó has been simply crushing the ball since returning. Three quarters of his hits have gone for extra-bases this year.

Probable Pitchers

Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

LHP Martín Pérez

65 1/3 21.1% 10.6% 8.5% 45.5% 3.72 3.73
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 17.2% 95.0 2152 117 100 79
Sinker 25.2% 94.8 2088 148 110 72
Cutter 33.8% 88.8 2318 109 131 105
Changeup 18.4% 86.1 1834 118 124 99
Curveball 5.6% 79.5 2647
Stuff+ Explainer; Pérez’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for Stuff+ or Pitch Arsenal scores.

From the previous series preview:

Martín Pérez has resurrected his career with the Twins after the Rangers declined to re-sign him this offseason. The pitcher the Mariners will face is nearly unrecognizable from the pitcher they became so familiar with in Texas. The biggest change to his repertoire is the introduction of an excellent cutter to replace his slider. The shape of the pitch is basically the same but he’s throwing it at 88 mph now instead of 85 and that’s made it a real weapon. He’s also increased the average velocity of his fastball up to 95 mph, helping him generate more whiffs and additional knock-on effects for his entire arsenal. His trademark changeup is now more effective because its velocity differential is even greater. The result is a strikeout rate higher than ever and a ground-ball rate lower than ever. The latter isn’t ideal but the former more than makes up for it.

RHP José Berríos

83 22.9% 4.4% 11.8% 41.0% 3.14 3.71
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 31.0% 93.5 2228 101 118 87
Sinker 23.3% 92.7 2142 105 113 97
Changeup 14.1% 83.5 1665 154 103 151
Curveball 31.7% 81.7 2347 134 81 128

From the previous series preview:

José Berríos throws one of the most remarkable curveballs in the majors. No pitcher generates more horizontal movement on their curveball than Berríos, making it one of the most GIF-able pitches in baseball. But it’s that pitch that has caused him to really struggle for stretches during the year. When he loses his feel for his bender, the rest of his repertoire can’t pick up the slack. He really needs all three pitches working in tandem to find success. But when he’s on, he can be one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. His fastball is pretty good but the development of his changeup has really elevated him into the pitching elite. That pitch has helped him keep left-handed batters at bay while giving him a reliable third offering to keep right-handed batters off-balance.

RHP Michael Pineda

64 19.7% 4.1% 16.1% 34.8% 5.34 4.99
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 56.3% 92.9 1999 66 120 93
Changeup 13.6% 87.9 1891 86 75 69
Slider 30.0% 84.3 2038 117 97 79

From the previous series preview:

After undergoing Tommy John surgery midway through 2017, the Twins signed Michael Pineda to a two-year contract with the assumption that he’d miss the first year recovering. He’s healthy now but his return to the majors hasn’t come without some struggles. He’s still the same pitcher that grew up in the Mariners organization, leaning heavily on his good fastball and great slider, but his problem has always been a lack of a third option in his repertoire. His changeup just isn’t good enough to keep batters from sitting on his fastball and that’s led to a big home run problem throughout his career. To make matters worse, his fastball velocity hasn’t rebounded to the same heights as he enjoyed earlier in his career. So while his strikeout-to-walk ratio is decent, he’s just getting destroyed by the long ball, allowing more than two per nine innings.

The Big Picture:

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 45-22 0.672 -- L-W-W-L-W
Rangers 35-30 0.538 9.0 L-W-W-L-W
Athletics 33-34 0.493 12.0 W-L-L-W-L
Angels 32-35 0.478 13.0 L-L-W-L-W
Mariners 28-41 0.406 18.0 W-L-W-L-W

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 20-45 0.308 -- L-L-L-W-L
Royals 20-45 0.308 -- L-L-W-L-L
Blue Jays 23-42 0.354 3.0 W-L-L-L-L
Marlins 23-41 0.359 3.5 L-L-L-L-L
Tigers 24-38 0.387 5.5 L-L-L-W-L