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Brothers in Bats: Mariners (7-16) at Dodgers (16-7) Series Preview

Will this series feature another walkoff balk? The answer might lie within this article.

Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Play mediocre games, win mediocre prizes. The Mariners pitched well enough to write home about in two of their three games in Houston after a catastrophic spot start from Nestor Cortes. The bats appeared to pop a mid-morning melatonin every day, however, as five runs in three days led to about the expected result. This week they shift their focus from a sluggish AL juggernaut to the emperors of the NL. In what we’re treating as a four-game series for preview purposes, the M’s will travel to Chavez Ravine for games today and tomorrow, then retreat to T-Mobile Park to host the Dodgers for two more.

At a Glance

Mariners Dodgers
Mariners Dodgers
Game 1 (in Los Angeles) Monday, August 17 | 6:40 pm
RHP Justin Dunn RHP Ross Stripling
29% 71%
Game 2 (in Los Angeles) Tuesday, August 18 | 4:10 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Tony Gonsolin
31% 69%
Game 3 (in Seattle) Wednesday, August 19 | 6:40 pm
RHP Taijuan Walker LHP Julio Urías
33% 67%
Game 4 (in Seattle) Thursday, August 20 | 4:10 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi LHP Clayton Kershaw
27% 73%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Dodgers Mariners Edge
Overview Dodgers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 114 (3rd in NL) 85 (13th in AL) Dodgers
Fielding (DRS) 19 (1st) 0 (8th) Dodgers
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 105 (9th) 102 (6th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 61 (1st) 139 (15th) Dodgers

I beg of you, do not look too closely at the Dodgers’ odds of winning each game. I mean holy cow. Sixty game season or no sixty game season, the Dodgers have roared out of the gate, boasting the inverse of the Mariners’ record with a superpowered offense, an elite bullpen, and a pitching staff that has weathered injuries without too much difficulty at all. It’s what you expect from Los Angeles (the real one) at this point—they’ll blast into October hoping that they can have their normal game 61-80 form instead of their normal October form. Time will tell. A question for you in the comments: the odds say we have our best shot with Taijuan on the bump thanks to him facing Julio Urias. If you had to put $10 on us to win a single game in this series, which would it be? I think I’m going with Marco vs. Tony Gonsolin.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks
Hey Mookie, what position is Boston at in their division?
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Dodgers, in the wake of trash can gate, have got be feeling pretty smug. They’ve had some elite names scuffle, yes—but since they weren’t humiliated in the offseason, everyone is more or less just shrugging at Cody Bellinger’s Altuve-sized wRC+ instead of cracking any jokes about it. Max Muncy and Joc Pederson’s scuffles haven’t earned much notice, either—which is understandable when Mookie Betts is playing so well you could throw him on a team of replacement players and he’d still help them to a better record than the literal Red Sox. And as frustrating as Muncy, Pederson, and Bellinger have been to Dodgers fans, they sport a collective .174 BABIP, suggesting that better times are just around the corner. If they are, they’ll likely turn one of the best lineups in baseball into the best, full stop.

Probable Pitchers

Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Ross Stripling

90 2/3 25.1% 5.4% 14.3% 50.2% 3.47 3.47
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 37.9% 90.6 2274 70 86 117
Changeup 15.4% 82.7 1584 119 114 101
Curveball 30.0% 79.8 2650 106 109 84
Slider 16.8% 86.3 2369 133 58 126
2019 stats

Few pitchers have better embodied the Dodgers pitching philosophy than Stripling over the past five years. Blending starting and relieving, with at least three different 10-day IL stints in the past three years for minor issues and frequent optioning to Oklahoma City, Stripling has been both an average-to-above-average pitcher and oft-shuffled on and off the roster to help Los Doyers fit their ~35 excellent players on a 25-26 man roster at any given time. Last year, Stripling saw a dip in his fastball velocity and had a corresponding decline in its utility, but made up for it by leaning on his secondaries. The velo has crept back a bit so far in 2020, but the curveball and slider remain the best options for Stripling. The “weak link” of L.A.’s rotation will have plenty of backup, with one of the most daunting bullpens in the league well-rested after slobber-knocking the Angels all weekend.

RHP Tony Gonsolin

40 22.7% 9.2% 8.5% 41.7% 2.92 3.86
Pitch Type Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 47.9% 93.6 2456 115 62 100
Splitter 25.1% 86.6 1998 103 110 88
Curveball 10.1% 80.5 2622 92 58 163
Slider 16.9% 88.0 2553 134 127 133
2019 stats

Poor Tony Gonsolin might be just the fourth-most heralded rookie pitcher on his own team. The 26 year old righty was a 9th round pick in 2016, making the transition from long bullpen work in the low minors to starting in High-A in 2018, and he’s kept his grasp on longer outings up to a whole pot of coffee last year. Gonsolin’s repertoire is a four pitch blend, headlined by a riding four-seamer and a diving split-change. His best pitch in the bigs has been a slider that he’s used less in 2020, in favor of the fastball-splitter combo, but the big righty has one of the more impressive splits in the game per scouts, so upping its use makes sense.

LHP Julio Urias

79 2/3 26.1% 8.3% 8.8% 38.7% 2.49 3.43
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 59.3% 95.1 2511 145 134 132
Changeup 16.7% 82.2 1855 153 113 108
Curveball 6.3% 77.3 2586 115 146 43
Slider 17.7% 84.6 2199 84 109 142
2019 stats

24 year old Julio Urias will likely make his fifth start of his fifth MLB season against the Mariners this week. Few players can lay claim to greater prospect fatigue than Justus Sheffield, but Urias takes the cake. In 2019, Urias mixed starting and relieving, working a career-high 79.2 innings before a 20 game suspension in August following his arrest for domestic battery. Urias returned to a bullpen role last year, but has been a starter thus far in 2020, with a plus fastball he leans on heavily, along with a well-separated changeup that misses barrels and stymies hitters.

LHP Clayton Kershaw

178 1/3 26.8% 5.8% 18.5% 48.0% 3.03 3.86
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 44.2% 90.3 2477 76 87 120
Curveball 16.5% 73.5 2463 48 115 109
Slider 39.3% 86.9 2668 133 98 113
2019 stats

Reports of the venerable ace’s decline has been greatly exaggerated. While his velocity has trickled down (though it’s back up a tick so far this year), the 32 year old remains among the league’s better pitchers. Kershaw has embraced modernity with a near-even split on his four-seam and his slider, while his iconic curveball remains a sometimes food. Kershaw has taken the hill at T-Mobile Park née Safeco Field twice before, with a combined 14.0 innings, 19 strikeouts, three walks, and just four earned runs. The Mariners may be a mere speed bump en route to the division title for the Dodgers, but brushes with greatness are still a little extra spot of excitement.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 16-6 0.727 -- L-W-W-W-W
Astros 11-10 0.524 4.5 L-W-W-W-W
Rangers 10-10 0.500 5.0 W-W-W-W-L
Angels 7-15 0.318 9.0 W-L-L-L-L
Mariners 7-16 0.304 9.5 L-L-L-L-L

The Angels can’t do anything right. They were supposed to contend, and yet here they are in the cellar—but they’re not bad enough to pass Seattle, ha HA! As more or less expected, the Astros were able to pick up some steam against the Mariners—and yet have made up no ground whatsoever on the Athletics. I feel so bad for them. (I do not feel bad for them). The Rangers, meanwhile, remain technically present.

2021 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Pirates 4-14 0.222 -- L-L-L-W-L
Red Sox 6-16 0.273 -- L-L-L-L-L
Mariners 7-16 0.304 0.5 L-L-L-L-L
Angels 7-15 0.318 1.0 W-L-L-L-L
Giants 8-15 0.348 1.5 W-L-L-L-L

Okay, look, Boston, this is getting old. The Red Sox remain in front of the Mariners—both teams have basically spent the year getting WALLOPED by their respective divisions. The Mariners will likely now take a turn getting walloped by a team outside their divison, but it’s more of the same for Boston, who will face the Yankees in the Bronx. The Pirates are off today but will face a weakened Cleveland squad tomorrow—perhaps the Mariners can make up a smidgen of room there.