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Series Preview: Mariners (4-7) vs. Angels (3-7)

The Mariners host a reinforced Angels squad for three games.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels-Workouts Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

After three very close games against the Athletics, the Mariners bullpen imploded last night in spectacular fashion. Four of the Mariners seven losses have been by more than five runs which should be expected when your bullpen is slapped together with misfit veterans and youngsters. Just look at the team overview table below. Seattle relievers have compiled a park and league adjusted FIP 67% worse than league average so far this year. A functional bullpen is the one of the last things we should be worried about but the struggles of the relief corps are just too extreme to ignore. The Mariners continue their opening homestand with a three-game series against the Angels, who have nearly as poor a relief corps as Seattle does.

At a Glance

Angels Mariners
Angels Mariners
Game 1 Tuesday, August 4 | 7:10 pm
LHP Andrew Heaney RHP Justin Dunn
56% 44%
Game 2 Wednesday, August 5 | 6:40 pm
RHP Dylan Bundy LHP Marco Gonzales
54% 46%
Game 3 Thursday, August 6 | 1:10 pm
RHP Griffin Canning RHP Taijuan Walker
55% 45%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 103 (7th in AL) 96 (9th in AL) Angels
Fielding (DRS) -2 (12th) 2 (6th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 87 (5th) 96 (6th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 117 (14th) 167 (15th) Angels
2020 stats

The big storyline for the Angels is the callup of their top prospect Jo Adell. Or it might have been if Shohei Ohtani hadn’t injured his throwing arm in his start on Sunday. It’s an unfortunate setback for Ohtani who had made his way back to the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery back in 2018. Luckily, it looks like his reconstructed elbow ligament is fine, but the injury is likely related to the additional stress placed on his elbow during rehab. He should be able to hit but he’s been shut down from throwing for the remainder of the season.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
David Fletcher SS R 48 0.412 164 0.9
Mike Trout CF R 28 0.375 123 -0.1
Anthony Rendon 3B R 30 0.231 151 0.2
Justin Upton DH L 41 0.091 23 0.0
Jo Adell LF R -- -- -- --
Tommy La Stella 2B L 31 0.273 133 -0.1
Albert Pujols 1B R 31 0.095 56 0.1
Jason Castro C L 23 0.250 136 -0.4
Brian Goodwin RF L 34 0.400 202 0.2
2020 stats

With Adell in the fold, the Angels shouldn’t feel pressure to use Ohtani as the everyday DH. The most likely lineup has Adell slotted into left field pushing Justin Upton into a timeshare with Ohtani at DH. If the Angels want to keep handing Upton everyday at-bats, they could rotate him with Brian Goodwin. Simply based on their early season performance, this probably isn’t the best idea. Goodwin has been the Angels best hitter early on and Upton has really scuffled. Still, Adell’s presence gives Joe Maddon options which is a nice luxury to have. The Angels are also getting Mike Trout back after his wife gave birth to their son last week. They need the help after getting off to a really poor start in this shortened season.

Probable Pitchers

Stuff+ Explainer

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

LHP Andrew Heaney

95 1/3 28.8% 7.3% 18.3% 33.6% 4.91 4.63
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 58.0% 92.5 2524 75 185 129
Changeup 15.1% 84.7 1988 120 95 104
Curveball 26.9% 79.4 2545 91 134 69
2019 stats

From a previous series preview:

Last year, Andrew Heaney posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio right in line with his outstanding 2018 season, right around four K’s per walk. Despite that consistency, his FIP rose by more than half a run in 2019. As a heavy fly ball pitcher, Heaney was hit exceptionally hard by the dragless ball last year, allowing almost two home runs per nine innings. All three of his pitches generate plenty of swings and misses but they’re all prone to getting walloped if they’re located poorly. His “sinker” is one of the more interesting pitches in baseball. It’s shape is more like a four-seam fastball but he throws it with just one finger on the seams. The result is a pitch with both ride and tail, a hybrid fastball that batters have trouble picking up.

RHP Dylan Bundy

161 2/3 23.1% 8.3% 16.4% 41.5% 4.79 4.73
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 42.4% 91.1 2458 79 89 93
Sinker 7.5% 91.3 2288 70 96 104
Changeup 17.4% 83.4 1569 114 109 92
Curveball 9.9% 74.8 2404 91 94 108
Slider 22.8% 81.1 2573 71 137 124
2019 stats

From a previous series preview:

Dylan Bundy was the poster child for a change of scenery after five frustrating seasons in Baltimore. He had always possessed good stuff but continued to see poor results that didn’t reflect the underlying quality of his pitches. Traded to the Angels in the offseason, he was in the middle of an eye opening spring training before everything shut down. In his first start of the year in Oakland, he threw six and two-thirds innings, allowing just one run on three hits with seven strikeouts. He relied heavily on his slider and changeup while reducing the use of his fastball. His slider was absolutely untouchable, generating eight whiffs on fourteen swings.

RHP Griffin Canning

90 1/3 25.0% 7.8% 12.8% 37.6% 4.58 4.37
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 42.3% 93.9 2335 143 112 91
Changeup 12.8% 89.1 1671 43 94 96
Curveball 16.0% 82.0 2425 91 111 142
Slider 28.9% 88.9 2506 125 129 99
2019 stats

Griffin Canning was one of the Angels top prospects heading into the 2019 season. He made his debut in late April and showed off good peripheral skills even if they didn’t have a positive impact on his run prevention results. An elbow injury sidelined him in August but the longer offseason helped him get healthy in time for the delayed start to the season. His repertoire features a good fastball paired with a trio of solid secondary offerings. His slider is his best pitch though he’s really improved his curveball this year. In his first two starts this summer, he’s looked just as effective but now the run prevention results have matched his peripheral stats.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 6-4 0.600 -- L-L-W-W-W
Astros 5-4 0.556 0.5 L-L-W-L-W
Rangers 3-5 0.375 2.0 L-W-L-L-W
Mariners 4-7 0.364 2.5 W-W-L-L-L
Angels 3-7 0.300 3.0 L-L-L-W-L

It’s hard to believe but we’re now a sixth of the way through the season. Well, most teams are at least. The Angels need to turn their season around quickly if they want to have a chance at making the expanded postseason field. Their 3-7 record would translate to an 8-19 record through 1/6th of a 162 game season. That’s not great. The Astros pitching staff continues to be decimated by injuries. Roberto Osuna was the latest to go down with a significant arm injury [insert Jerry Seinfeld “that’s a shame” gif]. The Astros travel to Arizona for a three-game interleague series and the Rangers head to Oakland to face the division-leading Athletics.