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Series Preview: Mariners (11-19) at Padres (18-12)

The Mariners take on their “natural” rivals in San Diego.

MLB: Texas Rangers at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always fun to have a reason to do what you know you shouldn’t and make too much of a few games. In this case, the Mariners have shifted from non-competitive losses against Houston and Oakland to a series of four competitive games with the Dodgers and then a sweep of Texas. This may not do much for our draft position, but it does wonders for feeling like maybe, some how, some way, this team could make some noise in 2021 or 2022, even if they’re too far behind the 8-ball for 2020. Of course, bad teams play well in short stretches all the time, so it’s too soon to say if this is really a page flipping on the Mariners narrative or if they’re about to knock their inkpot all over the page, forcing them to throw out the book. They’ll travel to San Diego to face the upstart Padres as they try to show that the Texas series was not a mirage.

At a Glance

Mariners Padres
Mariners Padres
Game 1 Tuesday, August 25 | 6:10 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Chris Paddack
42% 58%
Game 2 Wednesday, August 26 | 6:10 pm
RHP Taijuan Walker RHP Dinelson Lamet
39% 61%
Game 3 Thursday, August 27 | 1:10 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi RHP Garrett Richards
37% 63%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 116 (3rd in NL) 89 (13th in AL) Padres
Fielding (DRS) 6 (6th) 1 (9th) Padres
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 83 (3rd) 98 (4th) Padres
Bullpen (FIP-) 111 (10th) 128 (15th) Padres

The Padres have, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, been in the news lately. After absolutely dumpstering the Rangers, they showed they can beat up good teams too, sweeping the Astros straight out of town while putting up 25 runs in three games. While they sit a whopping 4 games behind the Dodgers, they are all but a lock to make the playoffs in this expanded and strange format. How have they done it? By thumping the heck out of the ball to support their starters, then hanging on for dear life while their bullpen is up to shenanigans. So far, so good, but it will be interesting to see if they make an attempt to shore up their bullpen or count on a bounceback from what theoretically should be a pretty solid set of relievers.

Padres Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Trent Grisham CF L 131 0.306 141 -0.9
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS R 134 0.352 184 1.2
Manny Machado 3B R 131 0.259 134 -0.8
Eric Hosmer 1B L 73 0.235 128 0.2
Wil Myers RF R 108 0.333 148 0.8
Jake Cronenworth 2B L 83 0.377 178 0.2
Jurickson Profar LF S 105 0.186 84 1.3
Ty France DH R 42 0.308 114 0.6
Austin Hedges C R 56 0.138 50 -0.5

This basically looks like what most projection systems expected to see out of the Astros this year. Eric Hosmer finally broke the cycle by having two bad years at the plate in a row, but is more than making up for that so far in 2020. Manny Machado looks like the player San Diego spent $300mm on instead of the weaker-but-still-good version of himself from 2019, and Jake Cronenworth is every bit as much of a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year as Kyle Lewis is for the AL trophy. And then there’s Fernando Tatis Jr. His exploits at the plate have been matched in the field, making him pretty easily the most electric player in baseball before reaching 22 years of age. You could go on about this lineup for a long time, but let’s leave it at this: I don’t think you can possibly find a more fun set of hitters on a single team in baseball, and I don’t think it’s real close. I haven’t even mentioned Trent Grisham, who came over as the return for Luis Urias in an upside-for-upside move with Milwaukeee and has thumped his way to the top of the lineup while playing elite defense by OAA.

Probable Pitchers

Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Texas Rangers at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Chris Paddack

140 2/3 26.9% 5.5% 14.6% 40.2% 3.33 3.95
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 61.0% 93.9 2230 129 114 112
Changeup 28.5% 84.5 1707 120 98 101
Curveball 10.4% 76.1 2214 87 95 77
2019 stats

Chris Paddack made the jump from Double-A to the majors last year and dazzled in his rookie campaign. He combined legit strikeout stuff with impeccable command to earn an excellent 4.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio that formed the foundation for his 3.33 ERA and 3.95 FIP. He’s had a bit of trouble replicating that success in his sophomore season. His strikeout rate has dropped by more than five points and he’s really had a hard time keep the ball in the park this year. That’s ballooned his FIP up to 5.37. His biggest problem has been batters are now crushing his fastball. He likes to elevate his fastball up in the zone but it isn’t getting as much ride this year. That’s allowed batters to make a little more solid contact off the pitch to the tune of a .445 wOBA.

RHP Dinelson Lamet

73 33.6% 9.6% 19.7% 36.3% 4.07 3.91
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 36.4% 95.9 2407 133 90 112
Sinker 19.0% 96.3 2380 100 92 70
Curveball 32.2% 85.5 2048 117 126 124
Slider 12.4% 86.2 2653 104 147 82
2019 stats

Dinelson Lamet flashed some exciting skills in his debut all the way back in 2017 but Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the majority of the next two seasons. He returned to the mound late last year and picked up right where he left off, pushing his strikeout rate up to 33.6%. It’s even higher this year and he’s dropped his walk rate down to 8.3%. He’s consolidated his pitch mix to feature his slider more than half the time with his two fastballs making up the rest. Batters simply can’t touch his slider so increasing it’s usage made sense. But cutting out his curveball and rarely used changeup has helped him lower his walk rate while still maintaining his ridiculous strikeout rate.

RHP Garrett Richards

76 1/3 26.9% 10.5% 17.5% 49.3% 3.66 4.13
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 31.2% 95.8 2602 108 67 128
Sinker 19.1% 95.9 2544 116 108 123
Curveball 10.6% 81.0 3252 109 99 104
Slider 39.0% 89.2 2897 129 129 111
2018 stats

A longtime Statcast darling for the Angels, Garrett Richards underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-2018. He signed a two-year deal with the Padres with the assumption that he’d rehab during the first year and contribute during the second. His high-spin stuff is still intact after his surgery but his strikeout rate is sitting at just 19.5%, nearly seven points lower than where it was with the Angels when he was last healthy. His ERA and FIP are nearly the same however, so despite the lack of punchouts, he’s still been just as effective from a results standpoint.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 20-10 0.667 -- W-W-L-W-L
Astros 16-13 0.552 3.5 W-L-L-L-W
Rangers 11-17 0.393 8.0 L-L-L-L-L-W
Mariners 11-19 0.367 9.0 W-L-W-W-W
Angels 9-21 0.300 11.0 L-L-W-L-L

2021 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Pirates 7-17 0.292 -- L-L-W-W-W
Angels 9-21 0.300 0.5 L-L-W-L-L
Red Sox 9-20 0.310 1.0 W-W-W-L-L
Mariners 11-19 0.367 1.5 W-L-W-W-W
Royals 11-18 0.379 2.0 L-W-L-L-L

Just when it looked like the Astros might make a little AL West noise, the Padres Padres’d them. Now at the halfway point (for most teams) they sit 3.5 games away from the Athletics, which is certainly doable in 30 games but not where they hoped or expected to be. Their odds in the division continue to hover right around 30%. The Rangers, Mariners, and Angels are all in the “jockeying for draft position” phase of the season, with the best of the lot, Texas, sitting 3.5 games from any sort of playoff spot at all. The page-turning mentioned up there at the top may be fun to watch, but it’s not great for draft position, as the Mariners have slipped to fourth—though just a game and a half from first, since the Pirates have similarly remembered at least a few things about how to play baseball.