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Series Preview: Mariners (35-47) at Brewers (42-36)

The Seattle Pilots Mariners travel to Milwaukee to take on the Pilots Brewers.

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Ah, the majesty of interleague play in a National League park! Making pitchers awkwardly bat! Losing your DH! Such strategy, such purity. The Mariners head to Milwaukee for the first time since 2010. Here was the Mariners lineup in 2010 from the first game of that series, just for some perspective:

Things were bleak. As bleak as right now? Seems unlikely, but time will tell.

At a Glance

Mariners Brewers
Mariners Brewers
Game 1 Tuesday, June 25 | 5:10 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Zach Davies
40% 60%
Game 2 Wednesday, June 26 | 5:10 pm
LHP Wade LeBlanc RHP Adrian Houser
42% 58%
Game 3 Thursday, June 27 | 11:10 am
RHP Mike Leake RHP Chase Anderson
41% 59%
Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Brewers Mariners Edge
Overview Brewers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 102 (5th in NL) 111 (3rd in AL) Mariners
Fielding (DRS) 27 (6th) -69 (15th) Brewers
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 106 (12th) 118 (14th) Brewers
Bullpen (FIP-) 92 (2nd) 110 (13th) Brewers

The Brewers and the Mariners will always have their fates intertwined, as many of us know and were reminded of during last Saturday’s Turn Back the Clock game where the Mariners wore the glorious Pilots uniforms of 1969. The Seattle Pilots were sold and moved to Milwaukee in a hurry during Spring Training of 1970 following their first and only season in Seattle, which is why they just had to keep the royal blue and yellow color scheme that later blossomed into one of the best MLB logos of all time. You’re welcome, Wisconsin.

The Brewers are also a completely changed team from when the Mariners last visited Milwaukee. Ryan Braun is the only remaining player from 2010, in fact. In case you haven’t checked in with the Brew Crew lately, they have had some fun seasons since David Stearns took over as GM in 2015. Jerry Dipoto himself has pointed out how he has taken a similar approach in rebuilding the Mariners as Stearns initiated when he got the job in Milwaukee, which has already netted a playoff appearance and NL Central Division title for the Brewers in 2018.

Obviously the Brewers have far more on the line in this series than the Mariners, as the Brew Dudes are in second place in their division and trying to repeat last year’s playoff run. Miller Park was historically a fairly hitter-friendly park, and since the ball done changed the homers have been absolutely flying out of the field and into someone’s fried cheese curds and Summer Shandy in the cheap seats. So, I’m expecting a good amount of dingers to be hit between these two teams. Domingo Santana returns to the park where he found his power stroke in 2017 and the Brewers’ Christian Yelich is going full-on McGwire/Sosa circa 1998 and is on pace to hit 60+ home runs. I do believe there will be dingers.

Brewers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Yasmani Grandal C S 292 0.290 137 -1.1
Christian Yelich RF L 315 0.337 190 3.1
Lorenzo Cain CF R 331 0.298 76 1.1
Mike Moustakas 2B L 304 0.280 140 -0.7
Ryan Braun LF R 270 0.305 99 1.0
Jesús Aguilar 1B R 201 0.235 68 -1.7
Orlando Arcia SS R 291 0.274 79 0.2
Hernán Pérez 3B R 152 0.299 72 -1.1

Besides the aforementioned playing-out-of-his-mind Yelich, the rest of the Brewers lineup is formidable, as well, with the core of last season’s lineup still intact. Yasmani Grandal is having another great season, Mike Moustakas is still churning out 2.7 fWAR somehow, Eric Thames is healthy again and slugging .482, and while Lorenzo Cain has struggled at the plate a bit compared to last season’s insane production, he’s still regularly making highlight reel catches in center field. Old friend Ben Gamel is still up to his usual insanely solid platoon bat tricks and grit-lord outfield play. Oh yeah, and Ryan Braun still has enough moxie in the tank to be cranking out 99 wRC+, so good for him.

Probable Pitchers

Milwaukee Brewers v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

RHP Zach Davies

82 1/3 15.2% 7.2% 10.9% 41.5% 3.06 4.46
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 60.2% 88.6 2296 77 69 96
Cutter 4.4% 86.3 2370
Changeup 30.2% 80.2 1828 140 103 95
Curveball 4.3% 76.2 2673
Stuff+ Explainer; Davies’s cutter and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or Pitch Arsenal scores.

Zach Davies’s style of pitching is becoming rarer and rarer in the modern era. He’s a sinker specialist who doesn’t have a good breaking ball. Instead, he pairs his diving sinker with a changeup that has even more drop than his fastball with just as much horizontal movement. That’s made him one of the best at playing with a batter’s timing. By locating both pitches on the edges of the strike zone, he can survive with just the two pitches, avoiding walks and earning weak contact. His groundball rate has slipped a little this year and that’s led to a few more home runs than normal. Still, he’s been an effective innings-eater for the Brewers mirroring the Dallas Keuchel approach to pitching.

RHP Adrian Houser

31 2/3 28.6% 9.5% 18.8% 61.8% 2.27 3.37

With the Brewers starting rotation plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness, they’re turning to Adrian Houser for a spot start on Wednesday. This turn in the rotation would have gone to Jimmy Nelson but he’s really struggled after returning from his nasty shoulder injury a few weeks ago. Houser is a hard-throwing righty who has been used almost exclusively out of the bullpen in the majors after coming up through the organization as a starter. He did make two spot starts earlier this year but he’s really excelled in shorter stints. His fastball is truly great, generating a healthy amount of both whiffs and groundballs. Houser’s mediocre secondary offerings have held him back from claiming a regular spot in the rotation. His slider is probably the best of the bunch and his curveball has a ton of vertical movement, but neither are above average right now.

RHP Chase Anderson

51 2/3 24.0% 9.2% 16.1% 37.8% 4.70 4.77
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 38.8% 93.8 2186 140 157 101
Sinker 10.0% 93.7 2187 132 70 143
Cutter 15.9% 91.0 2386 92 75 99
Changeup 24.3% 82.9 2312 142 120 117
Curveball 11.0% 77.9 2258 104 56 101

After a big breakout season in 2017, Chase Anderson took a big step back in his followup campaign. A late season bump in velocity helped fuel that breakout but his fastball dropped back down to 92 mph last year. His strikeout rate suffered and his home run problems resurfaced. He started off this year in the bullpen but was quickly moved to the rotation after Corbin Burnes allowed a staggering number of home runs. His fastball velocity is a little higher this year but he’s lost the ability to induce weak contact with his secondary offerings. His curveball in particular as been absolutely blasted.

The Big Picture:

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 49-30 0.620 -- L-L-L-L-W
Rangers 42-36 0.538 6.5 L-W-L-W-W
Athletics 41-38 0.519 8.0 W-W-L-W-L
Angels 39-40 0.494 10.0 W-L-L-L-W
Mariners 35-47 0.427 15.5 W-W-W-L-W

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 22-56 0.282 -- L-L-L-W-L
Royals 27-52 0.342 4.5 W-L-L-W-L
Tigers 26-47 0.356 6.5 W-L-L-L-L
Blue Jays 29-50 0.367 6.5 W-L-W-W-L
Marlins 30-46 0.395 9.0 L-W-W-W-W