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Draft Dodgin’: White Sox (64-82) at Mariners (60-87)

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Gotta keep up with the Joneses.

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It doesn’t feel wrong at all to say the Mariners enter this series flying as high as they have since the halcyon days of 13-2. It’s worth reminding yourself periodically—I don’t know why, but it is—that at one point this year the Mariners were 13-2. Ichiro played baseball for them this year. Holy cow, baseball seasons are long. It’s winding down now, though, with just 15 short games remaining in the 2019 Mariners season, before we enter the real fun: trade szn, baby.

At a Glance

Athletics Mariners
Athletics Mariners
Game 1 Thursday, September 26 | 7:10 pm
LHP Sean Manaea RHP Félix Hernández
64% 36%
Game 2 Friday, September 27 | 7:10 pm
RHP Mike Fiers LHP Justus Sheffield
60% 40%
Game 3 Saturday, September 28 | 7:10 pm
LHP Brett Anderson LHP Marco Gonzales
56% 44%
Game 2 Sunday, September 29 | 12:10 pm
RHP Tanner Roark RHP Justin Dunn
58% 42%

Team Overview

Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 108 (4th in AL) 99 (7th in AL) Athletics
Fielding (DRS) 34 (4th) -90 (14th) Athletics
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 103 (9th) 113 (13th) Athletics
Bullpen (FIP-) 90 (5th) 109 (14th) Athletics

The real fun thing here is clearly that the Mariners have at least found a team almost as bad at defense at they are. Hoo...ray? The White Sox are theoretically farther along in their rebuild than the Mariners, having kept young talent like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez on their roster all year, but after missing out on every elite talent they could have added from elsewhere in baseball, they have had an extreme feast-or-famine roster and the iffy season results to match. They do rank better than the Mariners in every statistical category save offense, but they aren’t exactly... good... at any of those things. Projected for 71.8 wins by fangraphs, they seem likely to end up just about at that mark or a shade under. Chalk one up for the machines yet again.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Projected Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Marcus Semien SS R 732 0.300 138 1.6
Matt Chapman 3B R 656 0.267 123 0.2
Matt Olson 1B L 534 0.301 135 -0.3
Mark Canha CF R 489 0.311 148 -1.3
Ramón Laureano RF R 468 0.347 128 4.9
Khris Davis DH R 523 0.263 81 -1.9
Chad Pinder LF L 359 0.280 85 -1.6
Sean Murphy C R 49 0.308 160 1.0
Jurickson Profar 2B S 508 0.217 88 1.7

See what I mean about feast or famine? Tim Anderson’s offense has exploded this year, though his incredibly inflated BABIP is indicative that, while he may have some new skills, they probably aren’t quite as good as they look. Abreu, Moncada, Jiménez, and McCann form an impressive enough heart of the order to follow him, and there’s certainly lots to be said about youth (Moncada is 24, Jiménez just 22) and its tendency to get better, but the rest of this lineup could be charitably called A Problem. Abreu will hit free agency at 32 this offseason, and while there are some interesting prospects in this system that aren’t far off—Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert are both about as exciting as any prospect in Seattle’s system, and should both spend essentially all of 2020 with the big-league club—there’s a real question whether there is enough talent here for the White Sox to get to a place of contention even with some free agent additions.

Probable Pitchers

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

LHP Sean Manaea

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
23 2/3 28.1% 7.9% 10.7% 36.4% 1.14 3.90

A year ago, it looked like it had clicked for Dylan Covey. At 27, he stuck in the majors and posted a very respectable 1.3 fWAR in 120 IP. This year has been essentially the opposite and a total house of horrors. Strikeouts are down, walks are up, he spent a large chunk of time in the minors, and his 6.15 FIP is, well, it’s real bad. I hate to put it this way, but it’s Felix Hernandez-bad. They have the same FIP.

RHP Mike Fiers

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
179 2/3 16.6% 7.0% 14.2% 39.3% 3.91 5.04
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 31.6% 90.9 2322 65 96 105
Sinker 20.2% 90.5 2257 57 75 109
Changeup 12.3% 84.4 1936 79 56 102
Curveball 17.3% 74.3 2780 78 95 109
Slider 18.5% 86.2 2483 122 58 95

Chicago’s other Dylan is not a lot better (it’s just Dylans all the way down with these guys.) The great thing for this Dylan is he’s 23 and has a lot of time to improve. He also has pretty good stuff that’s getting its fair share of swings and misses. He’s probably also given up more than his fair share of home runs and that plus a deflated strand rate give a lot more cause for hope. Dylan Cease, unlike Dylan Covey, could well be a significant part of this team’s future if they can sort of pull the rest of things together.

LHP John Means

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
143 19.1% 6.0% 9.7% 31.0% 3.65 4.40
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 51.4% 92.2 2375 126 98 89
Changeup 28.8% 81.2 2335 134 84 94
Curveball 5.6% 76.9 2229 53 88 50
Slider 14.2% 84.1 2317 65 83 96

I feel like Nova has been around forever. In fact, he’s just been around for this decade, but he’s kind of been the modern game’s definition of an ironman, non-Verlander category, averaging over 130 IP/season in his ten years in the big leagues. Acquired by the White Sox this offseason for the final year of his contract (seriously, what are the White Sox doing, exactly), Nova is almost 33 and continues to eat innings like it’s going out of style. The peripherals have dipped somewhat this year, but in general he keeps the ball in play juuuuuust well enough to be a valuable if low-end big league starter. Nova collected $26mm in salary over the last three years, which is great as it’s tough to see him collecting much more in the current free agency environment.

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 104-54 0.658 -- W-L-W-W-W
Athletics 95-63 0.601 9.0 W-W-L-L-W
Rangers 75-83 0.475 29.0 L-L-W-L-L
Angels 71-87 0.449 33.0 L-W-L-W-L
Mariners 66-92 0.418 38.0 L-W-L-L-L

AL Wild Card

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 95-63 0.601 +0.5 W-W-L-L-W
Rays 95-64 0.597 -- W-L-W-W-W
Cleveland 93-65 0.589 1.5 W-L-W-W-L

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Tigers 46-111 0.293 -- L-L-W-L-L
Orioles 52-107 0.327 5.0 L-W-L-W-L
Marlins 55-103 0.348 8.5 L-W-W-L-L
Royals 58-101 0.365 11.0 L-W-L-W-L
Blue Jays 65-94 0.409 18.0 L-L-W-L-W
Mariners 66-92 0.418 19.5 L-W-L-L-L
Pirates 67-91 0.424 20.5 L-L-L-W-W
Rockies 68-90 0.430 21.5 L-W-L-W-L
White Sox 69-88 0.439 23.0 W-W-L-L-W
Padres 70-88 0.443 23.5 L-L-W-L-L

The Mariners, Blue Jays, and Rockies have been on some sort of weird Groucho Marx mirror routine over the last 5 games, matching each other weak blow for weak blow. The White Sox remain 4.5 back of us for a draft spot and get to play the AL Central a lot down the stretch, which feels like it’s going to rear up and bite them when it comes to draft position. We’d be wise to abandon our tendency to beat up on weak teams and go ahead and just lie down in this one. We can certainly hit plenty of Kyle Lewis dingers, though. Then just let the bullpen take it from there.