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Series Preview: Seattle Mariners (5-4) at Baltimore Orioles (4-5)

Nothing bad has ever happened in four games at Baltimore.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Well that was unexpected. The Mariners have their second series win in three chances, riding a roaring eight unanswered runs to secure a 5-4 record before the next leg of their road trip. Their first taste of the east coast pits them against the birds of the basement, the Baltimore Orioles. It’s a four game set in which Seattle will hope to get 1B Evan White back healthy, and see some significant whiplash in talent, sandwiched between their series with the reigning AL Central champion Twins and the ALCS losing Astros next weekend.

At a Glance

Mariners Orioles
Mariners Orioles
Game 1 Monday, April 12 | 4:05 pm
LHP Justus Sheffield RHP Dean Kremer
52% 48%
Game 2 Tuesday, April 13 | 4:05 pm
LHP Nick Margevicius LHP John Means
44% 56%
Game 3 Wednesday, April 14 | 4:05 pm
RHP Justin Dunn RHP Matt Harvey
54% 46%
Game 4 Thursday, April 15 | 10:05 am
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Bruce Zimmermann
55% 45%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 104 (7th in AL) 91 (12th in AL) Orioles
Fielding (DRS) 2 (8th) 14 (5th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 109 (10th) 98 (4th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 89 (6th) 132 (15th) Orioles
2020 stats

The O’s have played respectably out the gate, pantsing the Red Sox in a three-game sweep to open the year before losing two of three to the Yankees and then returning the sweeping favor to Boston in their first homestand. Despite a desolate roster, the plucky peckers placed fourth in the AL East last year, and much like the M’s and their third place 2020 showing they hope to show their current club has some hidden gems. The return of cancer survivor Trey Mancini, paired with decent big leaguers like OFs Austin Hays and Anthony Santander has the potential for a higher floor here, and the uber-early returns on fellow OF Cedric Mullins have been more than encouraging. The club is defensively sound, if unspectacular, and is in many ways a collection of perfectly reasonable role players or lower-division starters in search of any modicum of star power.

That might have to wait for super-prospect C Adley Rutschman to debut, though his arrival is likely sometime this year. On the pitching side of things, when he arrives he’ll have a mix of a possibly solid rotation worker like John Means, as well as veterans seeking rejuvenation like Matt Harvey, Jorge López, and Wade LeBlanc. Félix Hernández’s unfortunate late-spring injury and lowered velo unfortunately kept him off this club, but for a club already through at least three years of rebuilding, it is a bit surprising to see so many journeymen filling the rotation and bullpen.

Orioles Projected Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Cedric Mullins CF L 153 0.350 97 2.8
Trey Mancini 1B R 679 0.326 134 -2.1
Anthony Santander RF S 165 0.248 132 -0.8
Ryan Mountcastle DH R 140 0.398 141 -1.1
DJ Stewart LF L 112 0.233 124 0.5
Maikel Franco 3B R 243 0.298 106 -0.7
Freddy Galvis SS S 159 0.231 90 -1.6
Pedro Severino C R 178 0.304 96 -0.2
Ramón Urías 2B R 27 0.444 166 -1.0
2020 stats for all except Mancini, who has 2019 stats

For all the smack talked on Baltimore, their challenge is in the aggregate. A low-upside roster with some serious holes won’t win many games, but they are plenty capable of competence up and down the order to put together some solid games. With Hays on the injured list at the moment, Baltimore has pushed 2015 first round pick DJ Stewart into the lineup. His 2020 was extremely encouraging at the dish, though he has the profile of a corner OF slugger already and will need to keep mashing to stay in lineups.

Probable Pitchers

Stuff+ Explainer

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
LHP John Means
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

RHP Dean Kremer

18 2/3 26.5% 14.5% 0.0% 30.6% 4.82 2.76
2020 stats, not enough data for Stuff+

Dean Kremer has flow to rival Noah Syndergaard or even Dustin May, albeit of a more chestnut hue. Fresh off being booed in Yankee Stadium for taking some warmup pitches after being **checks notes** hit with a line drive by Aaron Judge, Kremer brings his modern, back-spin four-seam heater and 12-6 curve combo to bear against the M’s. The fastball and curve make up roughly 40% and 20% of Kremer’s repertoire, with a cutter to add a third plane of movement. At 92-94, the velocity is average on his heat, and he was clobbered by the Yankees his first time out, but the 25 year old is the youngest member of the O’s rotation and should get plenty of time to show if he can make it as a big league starter.

LHP John Means

43 2/3 23.9% 4.0% 21.8% 43.9% 4.53 5.60
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 52.3% 93.8 2458 142 140 144
Changeup 24.7% 84.9 2414 97 79 105
Curveball 12.6% 79.0 2345 73 91 149
Slider 10.3% 86.5 2472 137
2020 stats

John Means is the rock of this group, particularly after veteran Alex Cobb was shipped off to Anaheim this winter. The 28 year old was a pleasant surprise in 2019 and the club’s lone All-Star that year, but had less fortune in avoiding the home run bug last year. This year the changeup artist has dodged the big fly entirely, and Stuff+ seems to think his heater plays up even from its 93-95 average. Means mixes in a curve and slider, with some intrigue on the latter. The only game Baltimore is favored to win (though all four matchups are close odds) is this one, with their de facto ace on the bump.

RHP Matt Harvey

11 2/3 15.4% 7.7% 37.5% 42.0% 11.57 9.45
2020 stats; not enough data for Stuff+

Sunday, Matt Shoemaker. Wednesday, Matt Harvey. The Dark Knight has yet to adopt a crab-based superhero in lieu of Gotham’s bat signal, but his first couple outings have at least shown a hint of promise as the former ace attempts to put things back together once more. Now with his fifth club in four seasons, Harvey is a few ticks down from his heyday but attempting to make it work all the same. Seattle should see a similar profile to recent years from Harvey, who has yet to surpass five innings in either outing this year thus far.

LHP Bruce Zimmerman

7 22.6% 6.5% 25.0% 50.0% 7.71 6.62
2020 stats; not enough data for Stuff+

Zimmerman is the softest tosser of the bunch here, working 90-92 with his four-seamer as the lead pitch, mixing in a good balance of slider, changeup, and curveball. He’s a quintessential command-based lefty whose stuff plays up but plays with fire by nature of its slim margin for error. The 26 year old can look no further than to Wade LeBlanc in his own bullpen to see how playing this profile right can make for a useful, lengthy big league career. For a Seattle club that hasn’t feasted on lefties in recent memory, it’s a nice chance to take advantage of an opportunity.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 6-3 0.667 -- L-W-W-L-L
Angels 6-3 0.667 -- W-L-W-W-L
Mariners 5-4 0.556 1.0 L-W-L-W-W
Rangers 3-6 0.333 3.0 W-W-L-L-L
Athletics 3-7 0.300 3.5 L-W-L-W-W

The Athletics had a rare Sunday off day, offering a little relief from their dismal start to the season, though they took their last two from the Astros, who maintain a share of first place themselves. Oakland travels to the Diamondbacks on Monday, while Houston gets Detroit to come to town. Anaheim was rained out at Toronto’s spring training site in Dunedin, FL Sunday, which they’ll make up in August, so they head straight to Kansas City hoping to continue their hot start despite losing Dexter Fowler for the season. Texas, meanwhile, was swept beneath the carpet by the Padres, in a brutal weekend capped by getting no-hit by Joe Musgrove. They’ll travel to Tampa for a series with the AL East’s defending champs.