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Series Preview: Mariners (22-28) vs. Padres (32-19) in San Diego

The Mariners stay away from the smoke and play three games in San Diego as the home team.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Well, I have some good news: The Padres aren’t the Giants! Bad news: The Padres are a lot better than the Giants. That said, we were a literal Taylor Williams strike from sweeping these guys earlier this year and tha — oh yeah he’s a Padres now. Well, anyway, most of the playoff debates are reaching a point where they no longer mean anything at all, as the Astros have more or less dumpstered the Rangers and now head off to face Arizona. But if the Mariners take care of business this weekend…? Reminder that the series is in San Diego despite being a “home” set thanks to smoke in the Seattle area that is clearing at the speed of dark, or at least that’s how it feels. Please. I just want to go outside.

At a Glance

Padres Mariners
Padres Mariners
Game 1 Friday, September 18 | 6:40 pm
RHP Chris Paddack LHP Yusei Kikuchi
61% 39%
Game 2 Saturday, September 19 | 6:10 pm
RHP Mike Clevinger LHP Justus Sheffield
64% 36%
Game 2 Sunday, September 20 | 1:10 pm
RHP Dinelson Lamet RHP Justin Dunn
62% 38%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer); All games will be played in San Diego

Team Overview

Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 120 (2nd in NL) 94 (11th in AL) Padres
Fielding (DRS) 6 (7th) 8 (6th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 81 (2nd) 98 (5th) Padres
Bullpen (FIP-) 89 (4th) 134 (15th) Padres

The Padres went all-in at the trade deadline, adding Mike Clevinger, Austin Nola, Mitch Moreland, and a handful of bullpen arms while still holding onto their top prospects. It was a masterclass in recognizing the tenor of the market and capitalizing. AJ Preller has been a controversial GM, but in this shortened season, his offseason and in-season moves have made the Padres into a legitimate powerhouse heading into the playoffs.

Those bullpen moves the Padres made have worked wonders: since we saw them last they’ve gone from 10th in the NL out of the ‘pen to 4th. That flips what was a weakness into a strength and gives them top-4 rankings in three of the four team categories above. The Mariners bullpen, unsurprisingly after several sell moves, is worse. Not by ranking, but by FIP-. I mean, yikes. Our hitting has improved somewhat!

Padres Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Trent Grisham CF L 219 0.328 123 -0.4
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS R 225 0.310 152 2.5
Manny Machado 3B R 220 0.309 152 -0.8
Mitch Moreland 1B L 126 0.270 139 0.7
Austin Nola C R 157 0.305 134 0.0
Wil Myers RF R 187 0.342 160 1.8
Jake Cronenworth 2B L 160 0.350 141 -0.4
Jorge Oña DH R 15 0.500 164 -0.1
Jurickson Profar LF S 173 0.274 112 2.1

This lineup looked very good the last time we saw the Padres. Now it makes the ‘27 Yankees look like the ‘10 Mariners. I mean, Jurickson Profar is the worst guy in this lineup and he’s gone red-hot to run his season wRC+ up towards the bottom end of the Mitch Haniger-Kyle Seager range. Austin Nola hasn’t been incredible since joining San Diego, but he’s been serviceable, especially for a catcher. I just don’t know what to say about this lineup. It’s absolutely terror-inducing, top to bottom. Seemingly every bet San Diego has made has paid off — by way of example, if you asked me in July if Mitch Moreland was retired, I would have said “oh definitely.” Now he’s batting cleanup and he even sort of deserves it. You can kind of see why they felt Ty France, who has raked all year, was so expendable.

Probable Pitchers

Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Game One-San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Chris Paddack

49 1/3 25.4% 4.4% 23.9% 44.6% 4.74 4.65
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 58.9% 94.2 2178 139 108 100
Cutter 2.2% 87.2 2186 82
Changeup 31.3% 84.2 1796 140 111 102
Curveball 7.7% 77.0 2110 97
Paddack’s cutter and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

From a previous series preview:

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.

The Mariners hit Paddack hard in their previous meeting, scoring six runs in five innings. He allowed eight hits including two home runs. In his last start, Paddack was pulled after just two innings due to an ankle sprain. He should be good to go for his start on Friday but expect the Padres to handle him with care.

RHP Mike Clevinger

40.2 23.9% 8.8% 14.6% 33.7% 3.10 4.27
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 39.9% 95.2 2353 138 114 100
Cutter 6.6% 88.3 2531 77
Changeup 8.5% 87.2 1479 81
Curveball 12.6% 78.7 2306 110
Slider 32.5% 81.8 2465 80 104 103
Clevinger’s cutter, changeup, and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

After falling out of favor in Cleveland after his involvement with the Zach Plesac fiasco, Mike Clevinger soon found himself shipped to San Diego as the headlining acquisition for the Padres at the trade deadline. He missed around two months of the 2019 season due to a back injury and underwent offseason knee surgery. Those health issues likely contributed to a slow start this season, but because he was optioned to Cleveland’s alternate site in early August, he was afforded some additional time to ramp up. He’s looked much sharper in the four starts he’s made since returning from exile and has been excellent for the Padres.

RHP Dinelson Lamet

59 1/3 34.1% 7.3% 8.5% 32.8% 2.12 2.68
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 35.8% 97.1 2497 175 84 113
Sinker 10.6% 97.0 2449 116 16 163
Slider 53.5% 86.6 2623 110 136 95

From a previous series preview:

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.

Lamet had his worst start of the season against the Mariners back in August. He gave up three runs on five hits and three walks across five innings. He’s really found a groove recently . He’s struck out eleven in each of his last two starts allowing just one run in almost 15 innings.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 31-19 0.620 -- L-L-W-L-W
Astros 25-25 0.500 6.0 W-L-W-L-W
Mariners 22-28 0.440 9.0 W-W-L-L-L
Angels 21-30 0.412 10.5 W-W-L-L-W
Rangers 18-32 0.360 13.0 L-W-L-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Cleveland 27-23 0.540 +0.5 L-L-L-L-W
Blue Jays 26-23 0.531 -- W-W-L-L-L
Mariners 22-28 0.440 4.5 W-W-L-L-L
Orioles 22-29 0.431 5.0 W-L-W-L-L
Tigers 21-28 0.429 5.0 L-L-W-L-L

The Mariners’ thin playoff hopes have moved into “by a thread” territory. Already with a stacked deck against them based on schedule and tiebreaker, dropping two games to San Francisco means they enter this series 3 games back. If they somehow manage to keep pace with the Astros this weekend, the three-game set against them early next week suddenly has massive implications.

In the actual wild card picture, the Yankees have used their hot streak to leap past the Jays, but even so, the Mariners are 4.5 back of Toronto. Toronto has been very good, but has to play the Phillies (.500, but fighting for a playoff spot of their own) and Yankees (well, uh, yeah) before finishing the year against Baltimore. So it’s unlikely. But you never, ever, know. That’s why they play the games, and all.