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Series Preview: Mariners (28-29) at Angels (25-30)

The Mariners head out on a long road trip beginning in Los Angeles.

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Angels Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

After pushing their win streak to five games with a dramatic extra-innings win on Monday, the Mariners lost the remaining two games of their series against Oakland in pretty disheartening fashion. Even worse than those losses is Kyle Lewis’s knee injury, which will likely keep him out for the majority of the rest of the season, and Justin Dunn’s shoulder fatigue. Hopefully Dunn will only miss one turn in the rotation because the pitching staff is already stretched incredibly thin, even with the return of Marco Gonzales earlier this week. Starting with this series in Los Angeles, the Mariners embark on a long 10-game road trip as they hit the midpoint of their stretch of 30 games in 31 days.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Thursday, June 3 | 6:38 pm
LHP Justus Sheffield RHP Griffin Canning
42% 58%
Game 2 Friday, June 4 | 6:38 pm
TBD RHP Shohei Ohtani
41% 59%
Game 3 Saturday, June 5 | 7:07 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi RHP Alex Cobb
43% 57%
Game 4 Sunday, June 6 | 1:07 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert LHP Patrick Sandoval
44% 56%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 101 (8th in AL) 86 (13th in AL) Angels
Fielding (OAA) -16 (15th) 2 (8th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 104 (9th) 115 (14th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 114 (12th) 91 (5th) Mariners

It’s hard to believe given the amount of talent on their roster but the Angels have floundered once again. They’ve allowed the most runs per game in the American League and are looking like they’re on track to finish fourth in AL West for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It’s a truly remarkable stretch of futility for a roster that has featured the best player in baseball for nearly a decade.

Speaking of Mike Trout, he’s been sidelined with a strained calf muscle and will probably be out for the rest of this month. Since he was placed on the injured list, the Angels have gone 7-8 and recently split six games against the two teams from the Bay Area. Their playoff dreams are quickly slipping away unless they can find a way to win without their best player.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Justin Upton LF R 179 0.242 96 -0.4
Shohei Ohtani DH L 206 0.304 153 0.9
Anthony Rendon 3B R 143 0.257 86 0.0
Jared Walsh 1B L 210 0.352 154 -0.6
Juan Lagares CF R 73 0.308 64 0.0
Taylor Ward RF R 94 0.246 99 0.0
Max Stassi C R 36 0.318 91 -0.4
Kean Wong 2B L 15 0.444 147 0.0
David Fletcher SS R 216 0.291 68 0.8

Without Trout in the lineup, the Angels are a lot less intimidating. Jared Walsh has been fantastic and Shohei Ohtani has continued to do his best Babe Ruth impression. Anthony Rendon has been surprisingly punchless this year, but he’s dealt with a few nagging injuries and has been a bit better as of late. More concerning are the struggles of David Fletcher. The Angels signed him to a big extension this offseason but his high-contact approach just hasn’t worked out this year. Without much power and an aggressive plate approach that doesn’t produce many walks, he’s almost entirely dependent on BABIP luck for all of his offense.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

RHP Griffin Canning

40 25.9% 10.3% 22.2% 34.5% 5.40 5.48
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 38.8% 93.8 2324 123 104 108
Changeup 22.1% 89.5 1894 53 106 101
Curveball 8.4% 82.5 2368 105
Slider 30.6% 88.4 2658 138 115 76
Canning’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

From a previous series preview:

Griffin Canning had tons of potential as one of the Angels top pitching prospects back in 2019. But after two years of middling results, we still haven’t seen him meet the high expectations many had for him after a quick rise through their organization. His best attribute is a fantastic slider that generates a healthy amount of whiffs, but the rest of his repertoire is just okay. His fastball has all the characteristics of an elite, riding four-seamer but the results he gets with it are really disappointing. This year, he’s ditched his cutter and is now throwing his slider more than any other pitch in his arsenal. The results haven’t followed.

In his previous start against the Mariners, Canning allowed a single unearned run on three hits and two walks. He struck out nine in 5.1 innings in his best outing of this season.

RHP Shohei Ohtani

36 1/3 32.5% 16.9% 13.0% 49.3% 2.72 3.85
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 53.9% 95.6 2346 127 102 127
Cutter 10.4% 85.4 2351 86
Splitter 20.7% 88.2 1551 69 185 86
Curveball 3.9% 74.5 2514
Slider 11.0% 80.7 2511 99
Many of Ohtani’s pitches do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or pitch arsenal scores.

Beyond his phenomenal exploits at the plate, Shohei Ohtani has also been healthy enough to make seven starts this year. And he’s been as good as his brief 10 game stint on the mound in 2018. His return to the mound is actually quite remarkable. After those ten games in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow but he continued to hit while he was rehabbing. Last year, he pitched in two games but a flexor strain sidelined him and a knee issue hurt his ability to produce at the plate. Finally healthy this year, the Angels have been extremely cautious with their two-way superstar. He’s rewarded their patience with an elite strikeout rate that comes with bouts of wildness. But his fastball and splitter have been so good, he’s been able to thrive even with all those free passes. And while they aren’t featured as often, his two breaking balls have been exceptional when he does throw them.

RHP Alex Cobb

33 1/3 30.1% 8.4% 8.3% 56.5% 3.78 2.20
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 40.6% 92.4 2151 94 75 89
Splitter 42.0% 87.5 1722 47 111 95
Curveball 17.4% 82.4 2660 115 105 94

The Angels acquired Alex Cobb from the Orioles this offseason as part of their efforts to revamp their pitching staff. Among all their new acquisitions, Cobb has worked out the best. He really struggled to replicate his early career success in Baltimore and much of that is likely due to his fickle splitter. His feel for that pitch comes and goes but he’s definitely found some consistency with it this year. He’s throwing it more than ever and batters can’t help but chase it. His chase rate is the third highest in the majors behind Jacob deGrom and Julio Urias. The success of that pitch alone explains his career high strikeout rate.

LHP Patrick Sandoval

21 1/3 18.5% 10.9% 23.5% 54.0% 3.80 5.67
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 17.2% 93.6 2148 85
Sinker 26.2% 93.7 1952 74 112 125
Changeup 35.5% 84.8 1541 90 166 97
Curveball 9.9% 78.6 2886
Slider 11.3% 86.8 2583
Many of Sandoval’s pitches do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or pitch arsenal scores.

Patrick Sandoval will be making his fourth start of the season on Sunday, taking the place of José Quintana who was placed on the injured list with a shoulder injury after his last start. Like Canning, Sandoval had shown lots of promise as a prospect but has had difficulty making the jump to the big leagues. The Angels adjusted his release point last year to help him command his pitches. His walk rate dropped to 7.5% but he continued to allow far too much loud contact to really be successful. He’s given back all those gains to his walk rate this year and an extremely high strand rate has been the only thing keeping his ERA down below his elevated FIP.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 33-25 0.569 -- L-L-L-W-W
Astros 31-24 0.564 0.5 L-W-W-W-W
Mariners 28-29 0.491 4.5 W-W-W-L-L
Angels 25-30 0.455 6.5 L-W-W-L-W
Rangers 22-35 0.386 10.5 L-L-L-L-L

The Astros have won the first three games of their four-game set against the Red Sox with the final game scheduled for this afternoon. They travel to Toronto Buffalo to face the Blue Jays over the weekend before taking on the Red Sox again early next week. The A’s are off today and travel to Colorado for an interleague matchup with the hapless Rockies. The Rangers have lost eight straight and are looking to stave off a series sweep against those same Rockies this afternoon. They return home tomorrow to host the Rays, the best team in the American League.