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Rays the Jolly Roger: Mariners (52-73) at Rays (73-52)

there’s 162 games, not all the titles are gonna be winners

Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Look, we do a lot of season previews through the year, and sometimes you go through the numbers and find yourself salivating at the weak team on hand in the other dugout. This, dear reader, is not one of those times. The numbers on these Rays, well, they are very good. Some will say this is not a surprise, because the Rays’ record is also very good. Okay, fine.

At a Glance

Mariners Rays
Mariners Rays
Game 1 Monday, August 19 | 4:10 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales LHP Brendan McKay
42%% 58%
Game 2 Tuesday, August 20 | 4:10 pm
LHP Tommy Milone LHP Jalen Beeks
37%% 63%%
Game 3 Wednesday, August 21 | 10:10 am
LHP Wade LeBlanc RHP Charlie Morton
33%% 67%

Technical note: the game 2 starters and Wade LeBlanc are all guesses based on beat writer tweets and previous rotation order. I would expect to see openers for at least 2 of those 3. Also, the series odds for those games technically reflect TBD starters, but I’m going to guess they, uh, won’t move the needle much.

Team Overview

Overview Rays Mariners Edge
Overview Rays Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 101 (8th in AL) 104 (T-5th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (DRS) 51 (3rd) -67 (14th) Rays
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 72 (1st) 112 (13th) Rays
Bullpen (FIP-) 87 (2nd) 113 (14th) Rays

The Rays’ absolutely eyepopping FIP- for their starters is the lede here, as they are a full SEVENTEEN POINTS BETTER than the next team in the AL. Yes, that’s probably partly due to openers. Yes, it’s also still insane. Overall, though, this looks like you’d think for a team in the playoff fight and a team that is, well, doing what the Mariners are doing.

Rays Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Tommy Pham LF R 503 0.307 122 0.4
Matt Duffy 3B R 85 0.317 78 0.1
Austin Meadows RF L 432 0.331 124 -1.4
Travis d'Arnaud 1B R 250 0.288 114 0.8
Willy Adames SS R 458 0.311 90 1.8
Jesús Aguilar DH R 309 0.283 87 -1.6
Kevin Kiermaier CF L 390 0.281 84 3.0
Eric Sogard 2B L 377 0.328 130 3.7
Mike Zunino C R 246 0.221 50 0.6

The Rays’ projected lineup is all the more impressive because this doesn’t include the Boys Lowe (Nathaniel Lowe: 132 wRC+, but in AAA right now for some reason (the reason is named Jesus Aguilar); Brandon Lowe: 127 wRC+, near the completion of a rehab assignment and could even be added during this series). Oh, also, incredibly weird fact about those two: They pronounce their name differently. Brandon’s last name rhymes with “now” and Nate’s rhymes with “no”. This isn’t about their hitting but now you’ll be incredibly knowledgeable! This offense is generally very fun to watch; ex-Mariners abound, including Ji-Man Choi (.331 wOBA and 11 HR!) and Mike Zunino (I’ll be nice and not recite any stats. I bet he’s still good at defense.)

Probable Pitchers

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

LHP Brendan McKay

33 2/3 27.4% 6.2% 15.0% 33.3% 5.08 3.96
Pitch Frequency Velocity
Fastball 54.6% 93.8
Curveball 27.4% 82.0
Cutter 15.0% 89.4
Changeup 3.0% 86.5

First, a housekeeping note: Jake is out on a well-deserved break from the previews right now, and he is very good at statistics and I am not. Thus, the pitching information here is lighter than usual. Sorry. Next, though, we get to see Brendan McKay tonight. McKay, 2017’s 4th overall pick, absolutely eviscerated the minor leagues on the mound. Still just 23, his 3.96 FIP would rank him 30th in baseball among qualified starters. He’s an incredibly exciting talent and given that the Mariners are actively trying to be bad, sit back and just enjoy this one. It’s pretty neat.

LHP Jalen Beeks

85 19.0% 8.6% 10.8% 44.6% 4.13 4.34
Pitch Frequency Velocity
Fastball 42.9% 92.5
Changeup 30.7% 87.6
Curveball 18.9% 75.5
Cutter 7.4% 86.4

Though he may well get the opener treatment, Beeks is pretty interesting in his own right. Beeks came to the Rays for Nathan Eovaldi last trade deadline, and has put up half a win of value this year in 85.0 IP. He’s not the flashiest guy out there, but at just 26, there’s time for him to improve and he’s also a useful enough pitcher just as he is right now, grinding out serviceable innings at the back of a big league rotation.

RHP Charlie Morton

156 30.9% 6.9% 10.3% 48.7% 2.77 2.67
Pitch Frequency Velocity
Four-seam 29.6% 95.0
Sinker 18.5% 94.2
Curveball 36.9% 78.9
Slider 10.0% 85.6

I wasn’t lying, guys, this Rays staff is bonkers. I think any Mariners fan has nightmares about Morton’s curve dating to his days in Houston—it’s a ridiculous pitch and he utilizes it brilliantly. Just 9 days ago he struck out 10 Mariners over 6 innings of work, though they did tag him for four runs as well. The fastball is good, too, and Morton is somewhat unbelievably (but also not, because he’s been an Astro and a Ray now) having by far his best season ever at 35, posting 5.2 fWAR already over 156 IP.

The Big Picture

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 79-46 0.632 -- L-L-L-L-W
Athletics 71-53 0.573 7.5 W-W-W-W-L
Angels 62-64 0.492 17.5 W-W-L-W-W
Rangers 60-64 0.484 18.5 W-L-L-L-L
Mariners 52-73 0.416 27.0 L-W-L-W-W

AL Wild Card

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Cleveland 74-51 0.598 +1.0 L-W-L-L-W
Rays 73-52 0.582 -- W-L-L-W-W
Athletics 71-53 0.570 1.5 W-W-W-W-L
Red Sox 67-59 0.520 6.5 W-W-W-W-W
Angels 62-64 0.496 11.5 W-W-L-W-W

This isn’t really about the standings, but I just want to point out that Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners have won more games since 2016 than Billy Eppler and the Angels, and the Angels haven’t even tanked in that span. AND BILLY EPPLER HAS TWO GENERATIONAL TALENTS. Truly, a breathtaking front office.

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Tigers 37-84 0.306 -- W-L-W-L-L
Orioles 39-85 0.315 0.5 L-L-L-L-L
Royals 44-80 0.355 5.5 L-L-W-L-L
Marlins 45-78 0.366 7.0 L-W-L-L-L
Blue Jays 52-75 0.409 12.0 W-L-W-L-L
Pirates 51-72 0.415 13.0 W-L-W-L-L
Mariners 52-73 0.416 13.0 L-W-L-W-W
White Sox 55-68 0.447 17.0 W-L-W-L-L
Rockies 57-67 0.460 18.5 L-W-W-W-W
Reds 58-65 0.472 19.0 L-W-L-W-L
Padres 58-65 0.472 20.5 L-W-L-W-W

A DISASTROUS weekend (citation needed) has left the Mariners trailing the Blue Jays AND the Pirates. The Blue Jays are en route to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers, and the Pirates are playing the Nationals, so neither of those are great. Thank goodness we’re facing the Rays! Go Rays, baby! Always been a big Rays fan over here!