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Series Preview: Mariners (21-23) at Padres (27-17)

The Mariners head down the coast to San Diego to face their “natural” rivals.

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

That series against the Tigers was about as bad as it could get. Not only were the Mariners no-hit (again), they managed to score just three runs on nine hits in the other two games. Kate did a great job of breaking down the offensive woes we’ve seen in May; in short, they have huge issues making contact regularly despite a patient approach that’s led to a high walk rate. The upcoming schedule isn’t going to help the team either. The Mariners are set to play 30 games in the next 31 days and they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as roster depth goes. They currently have 13 players on the injured list and have been insistent upon continuing to use a “six-man” rotation with the sixth slot being a bullpen day. With the upcoming schedule congestion, those bullpen days are going to really strain a pitching staff that’s already been stretched thin. It also means that the team is currently using just 11 position players. Days off for the position players are going to be few and far between during this stretch.

Update: As if things couldn’t get any worse for a roster that’s already stretched thin, there are reports on Friday afternoon that at least one person associated with the Mariners has tested positive for COVID. No word on whether or not that person is a player or part of the coaching staff, but considering the low vaccination rates of the player group, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a player.

Update #2: The roster moves have been announced.

At a Glance

Mariners Padres
Mariners Padres
Game 1 Friday, May 21 | 7:10 pm
RHP Chris Flexen RHP Chris Paddack
34% 66%
Game 2 Saturday, May 22 | 5:40 pm
LHP Justus Sheffield LHP Ryan Weathers
34% 66%
Game 3 Sunday, May 23 | 1:10 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi RHP Yu Darvish
29% 71%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 98 (5th in NL) 85 (14th in AL) Padres
Fielding (OAA) 4 (3rd) 4 (6th) Padres
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 82 (5th) 116 (13th) Padres
Bullpen (FIP-) 92 (4th) 94 (4th) Padres

The Mariners begin this grueling stretch of play with a road trip down the coast to San Diego and Oakland. The Padres made a ton of additions this offseason in an effort to keep up with the Dodgers. And since Los Angeles has stumbled a bit to start the season, the Padres currently sit above them in the standings. Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove have elevated their starting rotation to one of the best in the majors, though their offense hasn’t yet replicated the success they enjoyed last year.

The biggest recent headline in San Diego was the small COVID outbreak on their team a few weeks ago. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers both tested positive and three other players were placed on the injured list as close contacts of those other two players. Most of those players returned to the field this week except for Myers.

Padres Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Trent Grisham CF L 151 0.382 139 1.5
Manny Machado 3B R 186 0.242 101 0.9
Jake Cronenworth 2B L 187 0.336 132 0.4
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS R 112 0.274 159 1.6
Eric Hosmer 1B L 150 0.321 121 -0.5
Jurickson Profar LF S 139 0.281 86 1.2
Austin Nola C R 46 0.235 127 0.4
Tommy Pham RF R 134 0.224 64 0.9

Tatis Jr. survived a scary shoulder injury (and his positive COVID test) early this season and has continued to show why he’s one of the most exciting young players in the game today. Offensively, he’s putting together his best season of his young career. Defensively, it looks like the issues that plagued him during his rookie year have resurfaced this year. His range at shortstop is so great that he often gets to balls most shortstops would watch roll into the outfield, but he has trouble turning those extreme plays into outs regularly.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

RHP Chris Paddack

30 1/3 21.1% 6.8% 9.4% 45.3% 4.45 3.46
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 63.5% 94.6 2170 133 106 82
Changeup 28.9% 84.7 1725 111 96 83
Curveball 7.5% 78.0 2163 86
Paddack’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

Chris Paddack had a phenomenal major league debut in 2019 but took a huge step back in his sophomore season. Most of those struggles could be traced back to the effectiveness of his fastball. He’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher with a riding fastball and a nasty changeup making up the bulk of his pitch mix. But his fastball lost a ton of it’s ride in 2020 and batters found it much easier to square up as a result. And without a third pitch in his arsenal, he became a little too predictable with his sequencing. He’s been a bit better this year — his fastball has regained some of its effectiveness and he’s found a way to limit the number of home runs he’s allowed.

LHP Ryan Weathers

26 1/3 20.6% 7.2% 8.0% 47.1% 1.37 3.51
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 55.0% 94.2 2027 113 83 146
Sinker 9.8% 93.6 2067
Changeup 6.8% 86.9 1676
Slider 28.3% 86.4 2203 131 72 112
Weathers’s sinker and changeup do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or pitch arsenal scores.

While MacKenzie Gore is still considered the best pitching prospect in the Padres organization, Ryan Weathers has already leapfrogged him to the majors. He was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft and quickly moved through the minor leagues. He doesn’t really have a traditional starter’s repertoire; like Paddack he leans on two pitches almost exclusively. He has excellent command of his slider, though he hasn’t been able to use that pitch to generate whiffs yet. He’s had some trouble maintaining his fastball’s velocity and is prone to overthrow it to get to his upper velocity bands. In his last few starts, Dinelson Lamet has piggybacked after Weathers worked through the lineup once. I’d expect that to happen on Saturday again.

RHP Yu Darvish

54 2/3 32.2% 6.1% 8.2% 30.2% 1.81 2.79
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 19.1% 94.6 2550 132 184 68
Sinker 6.0% 94.5 2464 112
Cutter 37.1% 85.9 2754 110 86 91
Splitter 4.2% 90.2 1492
Curveball 10.8% 75.7 2756 109 103 96
Slider 22.6% 81.6 2784 117 63 123
Some of Darvish’s pitches do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

The Padres acquired Yu Darvish from the Cubs this offseason, the capstone to their completely revamped rotation. He had struggled with some injury issues back in 2018 that carried over to early 2019. But since getting healthy around the All-Star break of that season, he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Last season was one of his best of his career and he’s continued to build off that success this year. There are six pitches listed in the table above but Darvish has said that his repertoire consists of up to nine pitches depending on how he shapes his slider. It’s an outrageous number of pitches he can confound batters with.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 26-18 0.591 -- W-W-L-W-W
Athletics 26-19 0.578 0.5 L-W-W-L-L
Mariners 21-23 0.477 5.0 W-W-L-L-L
Angels 19-25 0.432 7.0 W-L-L-W-L
Rangers 19-27 0.413 8.0 L-W-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 26-19 0.578 -- L-W-W-L-L
Rays 26-19 0.578 -- W-W-W-W-W
Yankees 25-19 0.568 0.5 L-L-W-W-W
Cleveland 23-18 0.561 1 L-L-L-W-W
Blue Jays 23-19 0.548 3.0 W-W-W-L-L

The Astros took two-of-three from the A’s earlier this week and finally jumped into first place in the AL West. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 games and have a series in Arlington lined up for this weekend. Oakland travels to Los Angeles to take on the Trout-less Angels this weekend. Trout is expected to be out for two months with a strained calf, which likely puts any miracle postseason run out of reach for the Angels.