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Series Preview: Mariners (48-43) at Angels (45-44)

The Mariners open up the second half of the season against a familiar foe.

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

If you read the previous series preview, you’ll be well acquainted with the opponent for the opening series of the second half. There were a few key changes over the All-Star break, however. The Mariners announced that they’ll be calling up Jarred Kelenic and he should slot in as the everyday center fielder for the rest of the season. Héctor Santiago’s suspension for using a banned substance was upheld and the Mariners will be down a man on their 26-man roster for the next 10 games. That will force the Mariners to stretch their pitching staff pretty thin at a critical point in the season.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Friday, July 16 | 6:38 pm
RHP Chris Flexen LHP Andrew Heaney
43% 57%
Game 2 Thursday, July 17 | 6:07 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi RHP Alex Cobb
45% 55%
Game 3 Sunday, July 18 | 1:07 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert LHP Patrick Sandoval
47% 53%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 108 (4th in AL) 89 (13th in AL) Angels
Fielding (OAA) -24 (15th) -5 (10th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (7th) 112 (14th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 106 (12th) 85 (1st) Mariners

With a series win over the Angels in Seattle right before the All-Star break, the Mariners now have an opportunity to further bury the Angels in the Wild Card standings with another series in Anaheim. None of the Angels stars are nearing a return from the Injured List but they did sign Adam Eaton after he was released by the White Sox last week. With the benefit of the four-day layoff, the Angels have reshuffled their rotation which means the Mariners will see two of the same starters that they saw last weekend.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
David Fletcher 2B R 354 0.342 99 2.4
Shohei Ohtani DH L 343 0.298 180 1.8
Jared Walsh 1B L 354 0.332 139 -0.9
José Iglesias SS R 297 0.306 94 -0.6
Max Stassi C R 130 0.394 143 -1.8
Adam Eaton RF L 219 0.256 82 0.9
Taylor Ward LF R 219 0.278 98 -0.7
Juan Lagares CF R 192 0.266 61 -0.3
Luis Rengifo 3B S 81 0.175 24 -0.2

David Fletcher destroyed Mariners pitching in their previous matchup last weekend and nearly single-handedly won the game for them on Sunday. He collected eight hits in three games, including his first two home runs of the season. With those two dingers, exactly half of his 12 career home runs have come against the Mariners. One of the keys to winning the previous series was keeping Shohei Ohtani’s bat in check. He was limited to just three hits, though two of them went for extra bases. With Eaton in the fold now, Phil Gosselin will probably be relegated to the short side of an outfield platoon. They probably need to get Juan Lagares’s bat out of the lineup but they don’t really have another viable center fielder on the roster.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

LHP Andrew Heaney

77 28.5% 7.9% 15.6% 31.6% 5.38 4.14
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 60.0% 92.1 2460 82 122 81
Changeup 19.3% 83.8 2071 116 83 57
Curveball 20.8% 79.5 2587 79 112 117

From a previous series preview:

Over the last three years, Andrew Heaney has posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio just under four. That’s one of the best marks of any qualified starter in that time. But he’s struggled to establish himself as one of the premiere pitchers in the majors because of a big home run problem. Back in 2019, when the dragless ball was wreaking havoc on fly ball pitchers, he allowed nearly two home runs per nine innings. He got that problem under control last year but his ERA still far outpaced his peripherals.

After 15 starts in the first half, Heaney’s home run issues are just as pronounced as ever, leading to a ERA more than a run higher than his FIP. In his previous outing against the Mariners, he allowed four runs on six hits, including three home runs, in 3.1 innings.

RHP Alex Cobb

66 26.7% 7.6% 7.9% 56.5% 4.23 2.60
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 4.7% 93.1 2104 109
Sinker 41.7% 92.5 2069 99 96 84
Splitter 37.3% 87.4 1645 62 109 88
Curveball 16.2% 82.5 2593 119 93 97
Cobb’s four-seam fastball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

From a previous series preview:

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.

Last Friday, Cobb held the Mariners to just two unearned runs in 5.1 innings. He struck out five and allowed seven base runners.

LHP Patrick Sandoval

56 25.4% 10.3% 19.0% 54.1% 3.70 4.31
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 26.4% 93.6 2104 80 75 118
Sinker 15.6% 93.6 1929 74 98 112
Changeup 32.0% 84.8 1600 94 165 111
Curveball 10.9% 78.8 2821 104 56 85
Slider 15.1% 86.2 2606 106 116 108

From a previous series preview:

Patrick Sandoval has pitched so well in the starting rotation, the Angels have relegated José Quintana — the pitcher he replaced — to the bullpen. Even though ended up wearing the loss in his previous outing against the Mariners, that game was a sort of coming out party for Sandoval. He collected a whopping 32 whiffs in that game, 17 of them off his changeup. That pitch is an elite whiff generating weapon, with the four highest swinging strike rate of any individual pitch thrown more than 50 times this season. That gives him a solid foundation for his strikeout rate. As the season has gone on, he’s recognized the quality of that pitch and is now throwing it around 40% of the time. He’s continued to rack up strikeouts since then, though his command is still a work in progress.

Sandoval allowed just two runs in his start last Saturday but still took the loss as Chris Flexen outdueled him across seven innings. He struck out six and allowed eight base runners.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 55-36 0.604 -- W-L-L-L-W
Athletics 52-40 0.565 3.5 L-W-L-W-W
Mariners 48-43 0.527 7.0 L-W-W-W-L
Angels 45-44 0.506 9.0 W-W-L-L-W
Rangers 35-55 0.389 19.5 W-L-W-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rays 53-37 0.589 +2.0 W-W-W-W-L
Athletics 52-40 0.565 -- L-W-L-W-W
Mariners 48-43 0.527 3.5 L-W-W-W-L
Blue Jays 45-42 0.517 4.5 L-W-L-L-W
Yankees 46-43 0.517 4.5 W-L-W-W-L
Cleveland 45-42 0.517 4.5 L-L-W-W-W
Angels 45-44 0.506 5.5 W-W-L-L-W

The Astros barely avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees last weekend but a six-run ninth inning on Sunday produced a walk-off win. They’ll start off the second half of the season with a three-game series against the White Sox in a matchup of the two best teams in the American League. The A’s won their first series since mid-June, winning two of three in Texas before the break. They’ll host a Cleveland team that scratched their way back into the Wild Card conversation with a sweep of the Royals last weekend.

The Yankees and Red Sox had the first game of their four-game series postponed yesterday due to positive COVID tests on New York’s roster. Those two teams were set to play each other eight times in the next two weeks, though the health and safety protocols might push some of those games further back in the schedule. The Rays have played some extremely streaky baseball recently. Since June 15, they’ve suffered through alternating streaks of seven losses, four wins, five losses, and six wins. They’ll start the second half in Atlanta with a three-game interleague series. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers this weekend in Buffalo. They’re trying to work towards getting approval to host games in Toronto by the end of the month, but the surge in Delta variant cases might scuttle that hope very quickly.