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Series Preview: Mariners (32-46) vs. Orioles (21-53)

The Mariners play host to the worst team in baseball this weekend. Everything should be fine.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

This four-game series between the Mariners and the Orioles is not the baseball anyone (barring the Cespedes BBQ boys) wants to see, but it may also be the matchup we all deserve. The O’s are limping into T-Mobile with an eight-game losing streak and the worst record in all of baseball, while the M’s continue to execute a full-scale retreat from competence. The baseball will be assuredly bad, but the silver lining of mutual ineptitude is that there will subsequently be plenty of room for nonsense.

At a Glance

Orioles Mariners
Orioles Mariners
Game 1 Thursday, June 20 | 7:10 pm
RHP Dylan Bundy LHP Wade LeBlanc
37% 63%
Game 2 Friday, June 21 | 7:10 pm
LHP John Means RHP Mike Leake
38% 62%
Game 3 Saturday, June 22 | 1:10 pm
RHP Andrew Cashner LHP Tommy Milone
37% 63%
Game 4 Sunday, June 23 | 1:10 pm
RHP Gabriel Ynoa LHP Yusei Kikuchi
37% 63%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 83 (13th in AL) 110 (4th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (DRS) -51 (14th) -73 (15th) Orioles
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 125 (15th) 118 (14th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 122 (15th) 114 (13th) Mariners

Last year the Orioles finished 47-115. It was their worst record in franchise history. There’s a not-insignificant chance that Baltimore fares even more poorly this year: They currently have a worse record than that 2018 squad did at this point last season. They’re on pace to end 2019 a staggering 46-116.

The most compelling part of Baltimore’s major league squad this year is whether they will surpass the MLB record for home runs allowed (set by the Reds in 2016). This bodes well for the dinger-happy Mariners, and should at least make for an offensively entertaining series. All our snark here is merely gentle pebble-tossing in our own glass house, though. As SBN brethren Camden Chat notes, the Mariners haven’t strung together back-to-back wins since May 14th.

Orioles Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Jonathan Villar SS S 314 0.310 88 3.1
Anthony Santander LF S 56 0.293 105 -0.2
Trey Mancini RF R 305 0.333 141 -0.8
Chance Sisco C L 36 0.286 134 -0.6
Renato Núñez DH R 278 0.260 97 0.2
Rio Ruiz 3B L 228 0.272 67 -1.3
Hanser Alberto 2B R 222 0.332 91 1.3
Chris Davis 1B L 183 0.241 41 0.4
Keon Broxton CF R 124 0.317 38 0.2

Trey Mancini has been one of the few bright spots for the O’s this season. He’s cut his strikeout rate down under 20% and is hitting for more power than ever before. As you’d expect, that explosion of power has come with a corresponding increase in fly balls and hard hit rate. Mancini suffered a (fortunately minor) elbow contusion last night and will likely be out for the next few days. Renato Núñez has also been a pleasant surprise. A modest prospect with A’s, he bounced from Oakland to Texas to Baltimore and his power has flourished with consistent playing time. Unfortunately, his lack of defensive chops have relegated him to designated hitter.

Probable Pitchers

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

RHP Dylan Bundy

75 24.2% 8.1% 16.3% 36.0% 4.44 4.93
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 45.7% 91.5 2455 97 94 82
Changeup 19.9% 84.0 1550 105 116 97
Curveball 9.3% 75.1 2374 83 93 142
Slider 21.9% 81.6 2554 60 156 112
Stuff+ Explainer

It’s worth wondering whether Dylan Bundy would find greater success if he just had a change of scenery. He has two above average pitches in his repertoire but his results have never followed. A good strikeout-to-walk ratio sitting around three for his career has been completely undone by a huge home run problem. His fastball was the main culprit. He allowed a staggering 20 home runs off his fastball last year and has allowed nine so far this year. Both his slider and changeup generate excellent results, getting both whiffs and groundballs. Opposing batters are whiffing against his slider more than half the time they swing at it—the third highest whiff rate on a slider in the majors. If he was ever encouraged to throw his secondary pitches more often than his fastball, he could see a huge positive swing in results.

LHP John Means

70 2/3 20.3% 7.2% 8.9% 38.5% 2.67 4.07
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 53.3% 92.3 2354 126 117 97
Changeup 27.2% 81.0 2315 130 95 96
Curveball 5.0% 76.4 2171
Slider 14.5% 84.4 2270 79 79 102
Means’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for Stuff+ or Pitch Arsenal scores.

An eleventh round pick with meager minor league stats is leading the Orioles pitching staff in fWAR. For an organization that has constantly struggled to develop pitching, John Means has been a revelation. A strength program this offseason (not unlike the Mariners’ “gas camp”) has helped him increase his fastball velocity from the high 80s to the low 90s. But the pitch that has really put him on the map is his changeup. That pitch comes in at 80 mph which is all the more impressive now that his fastball velocity is a bit higher. As a lefty, he almost exclusively throws his changeup to right-handers and will use an okay slider against left-handed batters. He’s only pitched through the sixth inning once this year, which has left plenty of time for the Baltimore bullpen to perform their own interpretive dance of the fire drill scene from “The Office.”

RHP Andrew Cashner

76 1/3 16.2% 8.3% 12.8% 49.0% 4.48 4.75
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 50.0% 94.0 2215 105 91 113
Changeup 24.0% 84.5 1531 116 106 94
Curveball 12.8% 81.0 2382 116 38 116
Slider 11.5% 85.8 2217 101 68 83

Andrew Cashner is another example of a pitcher with good raw stuff whose results just haven’t followed. He has decent velocity on his fastball and good movement on his breaking pitches but batters just aren’t fooled by either. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t really have a put away pitch. His fastball and changeup generate decent whiff rates but he often turns to his breaking balls when ahead in the count. Neither breaking ball is all that effective so he’s struggled to retire batters consistently.

RHP Gabriel Ynoa

43 16.3% 6.8% 20.0% 45.8% 5.65 6.03
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 31.9% 93.7 2035 91 77 115
Sinker 29.2% 93.6 2011 114 105 80
Changeup 12.3% 86.4 1949 87 140 66
Slider 26.6% 83.6 2270 69 84 96

Well, would you look at that, another Orioles pitcher with decent stuff and disappointing results. But rather than a fastball with tons of ride like the previous three starters, Gabriel Ynoa’s fastball has tons of sink to it. That’s led to fewer swings-and-misses and more balls in play. His slider is merely okay, though he leans a little too heavily on it. His changeup has actually shown some promise this year. He’s increased the whiff rate on the pitch to over 40% but he just doesn’t throw it often enough for it to make much of a difference.

The Big Picture:

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 48-27 0.640 -- W-L-L-L-L
Rangers 39-35 0.527 8.5 W-L-W-L-L
Athletics 39-36 0.520 9.0 W-L-W-W-W
Angels 38-37 0.507 10.0 W-L-W-W-W
Mariners 32-46 0.410 17.5 L-W-L-L-W

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 21-53 0.284 -- L-L-L-L-L
Royals 25-49 0.338 4.0 L-W-W-W-L
Blue Jays 26-48 0.351 5.0 L-W-L-L-L
Marlins 26-46 0.361 6.0 W-L-L-W-L
Tigers 26-44 0.371 7.0 L-L-L-W-L