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Series Preview: Mariners (29-43) at Athletics (35-34)

The Mariners head to the Bay Area for a three-game set against the A’s.

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics
Things I like about the A’s: These uniforms. That’s it; that’s the list.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Mariners leave Minnesota following a demoralizing bullpen implosion to take on the A’s. This is only the Mariner’s second trip to the Bay Area and the fourth series against their division rivals this season. They take on an A’s team that is a smidge above .500 and has won 4 of their last 5 games. They should be due for a loss or two. Perhaps the beat, beat, beat of the (incessant, annoying) drum at the Oakland Coliseum will help Mariner pitchers find a rhythm and revive the team.

At a Glance

Mariners Athletics
Mariners Athletics
Game 1 Friday, June 14 | 6:37 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Chris Bassitt
40% 60%
Game 2 Saturday, June 15 | 6:07 pm
LHP Wade LeBlanc RHP Frankie Montas
38% 62%
Game 3 Sunday, June 16 | 1:07 pm
RHP Mike Leake RHP Mike Fiers
40% 60%

Team Overview

Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 102 (8th in AL) 111 (3rd in AL) Mariners
Fielding (DRS) -2 (7th) -57 (15th) Athletics
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 106 (9nd) 119 (14th) Athletics
Bullpen (FIP-) 91 (6th) 114 (13th) Athletics

With the exception of the last three games in Minnesota, the Mariners have played division rivals exclusively for the last three weeks. This series will wrap up that stretch. The Athletics continue to play better after beginning the season down in the AL West basement, and find themselves legitimate Wild Card contenders at only 1.5 games out. They haven’t exploded, but do seem to have improved a bit each time the Mariners see them.

Athletics Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Marcus Semien SS R 319 0.300 116 -0.6
Matt Chapman 3B R 298 0.259 122 0.2
Matt Olson 1B L 147 0.253 131 0.0
Khris Davis DH R 226 0.276 104 0.0
Stephen Piscotty RF R 288 0.300 94 1.8
Chad Pinder LF R 165 0.302 95 -0.6
Ramón Laureano CF R 267 0.324 96 1.5
Jurickson Profar 2B S 257 0.204 68 1.0
Josh Phegley C R 174 0.273 105 -1.9

Since returning from a hamate bone injury just over a month ago, Matt Olson has hit 11 home runs. He also boasts an above average 28.6% strikeout rate. After a dismal April, Jurikson Profar continues to boost his numbers. He put up a 96 wRC+ in May and so far in June is at 93 (He has a 33 wRC+ in April). He hasn’t started against lefties recently, so we may not see him the first couple games.

Probable Pitchers

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

RHP Chris Bassitt

53 24.0% 9.1% 14.5% 43.4% 3.57 4.47
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 24.7% 94.2 2222 127 146 100
Sinker 35.4% 93.4 2154 89 101 84
Cutter 18.7% 88.9 2252 101 115 102
Changeup 7.3% 85.6 2087
Curveball 14.0% 70.3 2224 46 105 220
Stuff+ Explainer; Bassitt’s changeup does not have a large enough sample size for Stuff+ or Pitch Arsenal scores.

Chris Bassitt made his way back from Tommy John surgery last year, making seven starts for the A’s down the stretch. He had shown some promise way back in 2015 but his injury derailed any progress that he was making. Now that he’s healthy again, he’s showing off some of the skills that made him an intriguing arm back then. He’s struck out almost a quarter of the batters he’s faced this year, though his overall strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t that great. He’s also given up his fair share of home runs, which has pushed his FIP well above his ERA. The odd thing is that he hasn’t allowed that much hard contact overall—he’s posted the seventh lowest hard contact rate among starting pitchers this year. That’s helped him keep his BABIP fairly low.

RHP Frankie Montas

76 24.8% 6.3% 10.0% 51.4% 2.84 3.04
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 17.7% 97.3 2411 127 114 122
Sinker 39.3% 97.0 2355 127 116 101
Splitter 17.8% 87.2 1615 113 127 106
Slider 25.2% 88.9 2504 148 94 112

Frankie Montas has always had overpowering stuff but he’s never really been able to harness it. Earlier in his career, he suffered from extreme wildness, never really knowing where his pitches were going. Last year, he started throwing his sinker far more often and that helped him get his wildness under control. Unfortunately, it meant that he wasn’t striking out as many batters. This year, it looks like he’s finally figured everything out. He’s added a splitter to his repertoire and it’s been an excellent addition to an already impressive arsenal. He’s still throwing his sinker as his primary fastball but has mixed in his four-seamer a little more often. The result is career-best marks in strikeout-to-walk ratio, groundball rate, ERA, and FIP.

RHP Mike Fiers

81 2/3 16.7% 7.2% 14.3% 39.4% 4.63 5.19
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 37.7% 91.0 2334 61 85 97
Sinker 11.5% 90.0 2268 32 63 99
Changeup 15.0% 84.7 1961 76 67 124
Curveball 19.2% 74.0 2750 67 87 123
Slider 16.1% 86.6 2498 83 64 103

From the previous series preview:

Mike Fiers increased the usage of his four-seam fastball and his big 12-6 curveball when he joined the A’s last year and he’s still using both of them as his primary pitches. When he’s able to command his fastball at the top of the zone, like he did against the Reds when he spun a no-hitter, he can be very effective. But as soon as that command slips, that fastball becomes extremely prone to leave the park. He’s also struggled to replicate the same kind of whiff rates with his fastball he enjoyed earlier in his career, making his no-hitter even more of a curiosity.

This will be the fourth time the Mariners have faced Mike Fiers this year. The first time, in Japan, the Mariners crushed him, scoring five runs in three innings off him. In May, he faced the Mariners twice, allowing a combined four runs across 11 innings.

The Big Picture:

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 46-23 0.667 -- W-L-W-W-L
Rangers 36-32 0.529 9.5 L-W-W-L-L
Athletics 35-34 0.507 11.0 L-W-L-W-W
Angels 34-35 0.493 12.0 W-L-W-W-W
Mariners 29-43 0.403 18.5 L-W-L-W-L

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 21-47 0.309 -- W-L-W-L-L
Royals 22-46 0.324 1.0 L-L-W-L-W
Marlins 24-42 0.364 4.0 L-L-L-L-W
Blue Jays 25-43 0.368 4.0 L-L-L-W-W
Tigers 25-40 0.385 5.5 W-L-L-W-L