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Series Preview: Mariners (26-40) at Angels (30-33)

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The Mariners head out on a nine-game road trip beginning with a stop in Anaheim.

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

So much can change in a single week, but little has for these two teams. The Angels took two out of three from Seattle at T-Mobile last weekend. Now, with both teams adrift and well out of playoff contention, we’re left with a series based on rivalry and familiarity.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Friday, July 12 | 7:07 pm
RHP Mike Leake RHP Félix Peña
46% 54%
Game 2 Saturday, July 13 | 6:07 pm
LHP Wade LeBlanc RHP Matt Harvey
45% 55%
Game 3 Sunday, July 14 | 1:07 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi LHP José Suárez
42% 58%
Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 108 (4th in AL) 107 (6th in AL) Angels
Fielding (DRS) -7 (9th) -64 (14th) Angels
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 116 (14th) 114 (13th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 99 (8th) 112 (13th) Angels

The Mariners hung with an injury-riddled Astros squad but dropped three of four, including an extra-innings epic on Thursday. The Angels have had a wonky week, squeaking a makeup game at the Cubs between last weekend’s Seattle series and a three gamer with Oakland.

The Angels are trying to desperately avoid their fourth straight losing season, and the players capable of making an impact have slowly begun to return. Shohei Ohtani has not been the world-bearer he was a year ago, but his competence and Albert Pujols feasting mostly on the Mariners has kept their bats among the better in the league.

Better defense and bullpen play has been the separator between the Halos and the M’s this year, as they’ve actually had slightly worse pitching from their rotation as well.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Kole Calhoun RF L 360 0.259 109 0.7
Mike Trout CF R 391 0.303 186 4.5
Shohei Ohtani DH L 218 0.343 143 -1.0
Justin Upton LF R 58 0.324 118 0.9
Andrelton Simmons SS R 230 0.301 92 0.1
Albert Pujols 1B R 295 0.219 92 -3.0
Matt Thaiss 3B L 372 0.303 115
Dustin Garneau C R 46 0.357 107 -1.4
David Fletcher 2B R 329 0.309 110 -0.9

If it feels like the numbers above are a bit low for how the Angels have punished M’s pitching this year, you’d be right. The Angels are running a tOPS+ of 128 against the Mariners, meaning they’re hitting 28% better than their average numbers vs. the M’s. Most teams probably hit better in Seattle, of course, but their 114 sOPS+ against Seattle shows even compared to how others have fared against the Mariners they’ve been better than most.

Probable Pitchers

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners

LHP Andrew Heaney (2018)

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
180 24.0% 6.0% 15.2% 41.2% 4.15 3.99
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 57.3% 92.4 2467 70 149 117
Changeup 17.0% 83.8 1931 140 80 100
Curveball 25.7% 79.0 2383 106 141 93
Stuff+ Explainer

From the previous series preview:

In his first full season after Tommy John surgery, Andrew Heaney truly impressed, making 30 starts and compiling the seventh best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the American League. When his elbow started aching during spring training, the Angels shut him down immediately to make sure he wouldn’t be lost to another surgery. He finally returned last week and picked up right where he left off. A high-spin sinker and an excellent curveball form the foundation of his repertoire, but his changeup has shown a ton of promise. He’ll need that third pitch to remain effective against right-handed batters and to last deeper into outings. A significant platoon split and a rough “third time through the order” penalty have really hurt him in years past.

Heaney will be making back-to-back starts against the Mariners. Last time out, he struck out 10 and walked no one in six innings. Edwin Encarnación blasted two home runs off him accounting for three runs but he dominated the rest of the lineup.


RHP Nick Tropeano (2018)

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
76 20.3% 9.8% 18.0% 37.0% 4.74 5.52
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 28.1% 91.1 2270 89 48 104
Sinker 19.4% 90.5 2192 76 57 76
Changeup 13.3% 82.8 1939 85 166 83
Splitter 14.9% 82.9 1090 69 132 124
Slider 24.3% 80.2 2186 41 125 104

After recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2016, Nick Tropeano returned to the mound last year to make 14 starts for the Angels. Even though his elbow was healthy, he suffered through a nagging shoulder injury throughout the year that required three separate stints on the injury list. He does possess an interesting repertoire and showed some promise way back in 2015. All those injuries have obviously derailed any progress he might have made in developing his arsenal. Still, he was able to figure out how to throw his splitter consistently last year, giving him a third above average secondary offering to use against batters. Tropeano hasn’t been officially announced as the starter on Saturday but José Suarez is ineligible to be recalled from the minors since 10 days haven’t elapsed since he was optioned and Tropeano seems like the most likely candidate.


RHP Trevor Cahill

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
57 2/3 18.0% 7.8% 23.5% 42.2% 7.18 6.37
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 11.5% 92.3 2231 57 151 56
Sinker 27.6% 91.8 2218 97 117 85
Cutter 13.7% 86.5 2164 51 143 115
Changeup 22.5% 83.8 1550 119 76 103
Curveball 24.3% 80.0 2953 108 67 127

From the previous series preview:

Trevor Cahill hasn’t thrown more than 110 innings in a season since 2013 because of a myriad of injuries. But when he’s been healthy, he’s been pretty effective, particularly since revamping his curveball back in 2017. He’s always had a great changeup, but he also added a slider/cutter last season giving him three excellent secondary pitches. With those three pitches producing great results, he’s been turning away from his sinker more and more. This spring training, there were some reports that Trevor Cahill was hitting 95 with his fastball. Unfortunately, in his first start of the season, he was sitting around 91, the lowest it’s been since 2013. It’s still early in the season, but the higher velocity in spring training followed by a significant dip a few weeks later is pretty concerning.

Cahill leads the majors in home run rate and is fourth in hard hit rate. A quarter of the fly balls he allows have flown over the fence. There really isn’t a smoking gun either. Opposing batters are simply crushing everything he throws. He’s allowing an ISO of at least .200 on all five of his pitches with his fastball being the worst culprit.


The Big Picture:

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 57-34 0.626 -- 7-3
Athletics 50-41 0.550 7.0 7-3
Rangers 49-42 0.539 8.0 4-6
Angels 45-46 0.495 12.0 4-6
Mariners 39-55 0.415 19.5 2-8

The M’s are well-entrenched in last place, but even the Altuve/Correa/Springer free Astros are having no trouble lapping the division. The Rangers remain persnickety, but they’re in a dicey spot. The 2nd Wild Card spot is partially theirs at the moment, but for the grace of a still-sluggish Red Sox club. Should the defending champs turn things up a notch we could see a nearly playoff-race-free stretch run in the AL.

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 27-62 0.303 -- 5-5
Tigers 28-57 0.329 3.0 2-8
Royals 30-61 0.330 4.0 2-8
Blue Jays 34-57 0.374 6.0 5-5
Marlins 33-57 0.375 6.5 3-7

The Royals are really pushing for that top pick in next year’s draft. They were just swept by the Red Sox at home, extending their losing streak to six games. They’ve won just once in their last ten games and just four times in their last 20. They’re now tied with the Orioles for the worst record in baseball.