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Series Preview: Mariners (19-22) at Giants (21-21)

The Mariners travel to San Francisco to face a surprising Giants club.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Wildfire smoke? It’s a bummer! The end of summer and the start of school, Zoom, home, or otherwise? Also not great! Well let me soothe any upset feelings you may have, reader. The Seattle Mariners are charging up in the wild card race, sitting just two whole games back from the Yankees and Astros, and they get to face a brand new fun team in the San Francisco Giants today. The Giants are also a surprise this year: they’ve made a lot of noise in the surprisingly crowded NL West race and are looking to snag a playoff spot in (checks notes) an even year. Oh dear.

At a Glance

Mariners Giants
Mariners Giants
Game 1 Tuesday, September 8 | 6:45 pm
RHP Ljay Newsome RHP Logan Webb
46% 54%
Game 2 Wednesday, September 9 | 6:45 pm
LHP Nick Margevicius LHP Tyler Anderson
44% 56%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Giants Mariners Edge
Overview Giants Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 114 (5th in NL) 93 (12th in AL) Giants
Fielding (DRS) 4 (6th) 5 (7th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 101 (9th) 94 (4th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 125 (14th) 139 (15th) Giants

Just two games in this series and we aren’t particularly favored in either, which is likely in large part due to facing the weakest part of our rotation. However, while projection systems may not like Ljay and Nicky Marge, it’s undeniable that they have (in a small sample) performed. If they can keep that up, we should look a good bit better than the odds in these games.

Of course, that will also require cooling down a red-hot Giants lineup, which has thumped its way through the season to date. Like the Mariners, since the Giants weren’t really planning to contend this year (OR WERE THEY?! - Farhan Zaidi), they did the baseball equivalent of just ignoring your garden bed for two months from April to June. You might get a watermelon here and there by chance but mostly it’s just a mess. While the offense has flourished, the pitching staff has struggled a bit, particularly the bullpen. The result is a beautiful mess that might prove to be just enough to compete in the National League, but a mess none-the-less.

Giants Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Mike Yastrzemski RF L 185 0.368 164 2.6
Alex Dickerson LF L 120 0.273 128 -0.3
Donovan Solano 2B R 143 0.400 143 0.6
Brandon Belt 1B L 114 0.403 190 1.5
Wilmer Flores 2B R 152 0.295 128 0.1
Evan Longoria 3B R 141 0.299 110 -0.7
Brandon Crawford SS L 128 0.325 107 -0.8
Joey Bart C R 58 0.424 100 -0.1
Mauricio Dubón CF R 112 0.360 89 0.7

Here’s the engine that drives the Giants’ success. Mike Yastrzemski has a nice name, of course, and took til he was 28 to break into the majors, which might lead you to believe he’s more of a journeyman. Not so: in 596 career PA he has a 134 wRC+, and while his defense is iffy, that sort of hitting covers a lot of ills. Donovan Solano, meanwhile, was a journeyman, but since departing the East Coast he has remade himself into something that sure looks like a real good big-league player over the last two season with the Giants. This lineup is really filled with surprises top to bottom, whether it’s Brandon Belt’s stretch as the literal hottest hitter in baseball or Evan Longoria’s resurgence that gives him (he’s still just 34!) a solid case at the Hall of Fame someday if he can stretch a few more years out of his career.

Probable Pitchers

Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Game One-Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Logan Webb

36 1/3 21.7% 9.3% 7.1% 48.1% 4.71 3.51
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 33.6% 93.3 2141 68 115 95
Sinker 9.8% 92.1 2033 126
Cutter 6.0% 90.6 2397 83
Changeup 32.8% 84.8 1635 127 104 83
Slider 17.9% 81.6 2715 57 75 45
2020 stats; Webb’s sinker and cutter do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

Logan Webb had a rough and tumble start to his professional career. He lost a year of development after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2016 and lost even more development time after a PED suspension in early 2019. Despite those setbacks, Webb has zoomed through the Giants organization and reached the majors last year, having pitched just seven innings above Double-A. He acquitted himself well in just under 40 MLB innings last year, sporting a 4.12 FIP that was marred by a 5.22 ERA. In nearly the same amount of innings this year, his peripherals all look nearly identical but he’s been able to drop his FIP and ERA by half a run by suppressing his home run rate.

LHP Tyler Anderson

40 14.9% 9.1% 8.3% 26.0% 5.17 4.82
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 38.7% 90.5 2305 87 83 111
Sinker 4.8% 89.8 2258 53
Cutter 20.8% 84.9 2422 60 110 114
Changeup 34.1% 81.1 2015 117 118 86
Curveball 1.7% 72.9 2347 47
2020 stats; Anderson’s sinker and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

Tyler Anderson escaped the altitude of Colorado for the marine layer of San Francisco but his results really haven’t improved. He’s allowed far fewer home runs while pitching at sea level, but a career low strikeout rate has erased any gains he’s seen on batted ball outcomes. He’s relying on his changeup far more often this year, and it has a decent whiff rate, so the drop in strikeouts is a little baffling. But the improvement in batted ball profile is definitely real and something he can lean into now that he doesn’t have to worry about fly balls leaving the park at ridiculous rates. He’s running one of the highest popup rates in baseball this year.

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 24-14 0.632 -- L-L-W-L-W
Astros 21-20 0.512 4.5 L-L-L-L-L
Mariners 19-22 0.463 6.5 W-W-W-W-W
Angels 17-25 0.405 8.5 W-W-W-W-W
Rangers 13-27 0.325 11.5 L-L-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Twins 26-17 0.605 +4.0 W-W-W-L-W
Yankees 21-20 0.512 -- W-L-L-L-L
Orioles 19.21 0.475 1.5 L-L-W-W-W
Mariners 19-22 0.463 2.0 W-W-W-W-W
Tigers 18-21 0.462 2.0 L-L-L-W-L


Absolutely wild that we’ve gone from including draft rankings to including wild card standings. 2020! The Astros have had a rough year generally and a lot of rough injury luck. Lance McCullers hit the IL for them over the weekend, and they face Oakland twice today with no starter yet announced for game 2. All of that means if Seattle takes care of business, they could sit half a game back by the time the clock strikes midnight tonight. I don’t know what anything means any more. I don’t know what to do with my hands. Let’s just enjoy the ride wherever it goes.