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Series Preview: Mariners (50-44) at Rockies (41-53)

The Mariners make a pitstop in Denver before a huge homestand this weekend.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With just a week and a half until the trade deadline, the Mariners have played their way into an interesting position. They’re three games back from Oakland in the AL Wild Card race, and play the A’s and the Astros at home heading into the deadline next Friday. Those seven games against the top two teams in the division will serve as a barometer of Seattle’s ability to stick in the playoff race for the rest of the summer. Their record says they’re probably good enough to think about adding a piece or two before the deadline, but their underlying metrics say they’re probably not good enough to stick around in the race. In all likelihood, calling up Jarred Kelenic last week was probably the biggest addition to the roster they’ll make this summer. Before that seven game test against the A’s and Astros, the Mariners first have to take care of business in a short two-game series in Colorado.

At a Glance

Mariners Rockies
Mariners Rockies
Game 1 Tuesday, July 20 | 5:40 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Germán Márquez
46% 54%
Game 2 Wednesday, July 21 | 12:10 pm
TBD LHP Austin Gomber
51% 49%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Rockies Mariners Edge
Overview Rockies Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 75 (15th in NL) 90 (12th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 16 (2nd) -8 (10th) Rockies
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 95 (8th) 112 (12th) Rockies
Bullpen (FIP-) 114 (14th) 84 (1st) Mariners

Update: It looks like the Rockies will activate Austin Gomber off the IL to make the start on Wednesday. The left-hander made one rehab start on Friday and likely isn’t fully stretched out after missing a month of play.

Back in late June, the Mariners and Rockies split a tightly contested two-game set in Seattle. That series came at the end of a homestand where the Mariners had beaten the Twins and swept the Rays, marking the start of their ascent up the standings.

Despite a rough start to the season and an ugly 9-34 record on the road, the Rockies have actually played pretty good baseball over the past two months. Since the beginning of June, they’re 21-19 and have gone 10-9 since the last time these two teams met. There hasn’t been one area where they’ve really improved either — their runs allowed per game has dropped from 5.0 in April and May to 4.8 runs per game in June and July and they’re scoring just .13 additional runs over the last two months. Their recent success mostly stems from better performance in close games and a ton of wins at home.

Rockies Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Raimel Tapia LF L 368 0.317 83 4.5
Brendan Rodgers 2B R 164 0.295 90 0.1
Charlie Blackmon RF L 340 0.300 92 1.7
Trevor Story SS R 336 0.286 85 3.4
Ryan McMahon 3B L 346 0.308 97 1.7
C.J. Cron 1B R 287 0.280 112 -0.1
Elias Díaz C R 185 0.209 61 -2.2
Garrett Hampson CF R 315 0.313 74 2.9

It’s pretty incredible to see nearly every member of the Rockies lineup have a wRC+ below league average and the only player who has a wRC+ over 100 is regularly batting sixth. The park adjustment for Coors has something to do with that; with a different home park, Ryan McMahon’s line would probably be considered above league average. But that’s part of the problem too. The collection of hitters the Rockies have assembled this year have really struggled to take advantage of their massive home field advantage. Even their star shortstop Trevor Story has fallen flat this year.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: American League at National League Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Germán Márquez

112 1/3 25.0% 9.2% 11.1% 54.1% 3.36 3.27
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 45.4% 94.9 2082 81 65 137
Sinker 5.6% 94.3 2069 90
Changeup 2.0% 86.0 1695
Curveball 19.7% 85.0 2686 90 128 87
Slider 27.2% 86.1 2443 101 120 84
Márquez’s sinker and changeup do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

From a previous series preview:

Germán Márquez is one of the few pitchers to ever actually thrive while pitching in Coors Field. His two breaking balls provide him with two weapons to prop up his excellent strikeout rate and his fastball has been good enough to avoid getting knocked around much. Last year, he posted the lowest home run rate of his career and enjoyed career-bests in ERA and FIP. His home run rate is nearly the same this year, but his walk rate has suddenly ballooned up to 11%. The shape of his fastball also looks considerably different this year. It’s now dropping by more than three inches than it had been — almost as much as his sinker but without the armside break. It’s helped him post the highest groundball rate of his career but I wonder if the different movement profile of his heater has affected his command of the pitch.

Márquez absolutely dominated the Mariners back in June, working through 5.2 hitless innings before Taylor Trammell launched a home run in the sixth. That was the only run he gave up in the game and one of just three he’s allowed in five starts since an ugly nine run affair on June 12.

RHP Chi Chi González

85 2/3 13.2% 6.2% 15.8% 39.6% 5.99 5.25
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 47.0% 92.0 2345 43 59 100
Sinker 5.2% 90.7 2231 81
Cutter 9.5% 87.8 2562 82 73 104
Changeup 10.3% 84.3 1638 98 60 79
Curveball 4.7% 81.3 2592 101
Slider 23.3% 85.7 2533 103 54 79
González’s sinker and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for pitch arsenal scores.

Way back in 2015 (when he went by Alex), Chi Chi González was a top prospect in the Texas Rangers organization, reaching 27th on FanGraphs top prospect list. He made his major league debut that season but all of his draft and prospect helium quickly deflated as he was clearly overmatched by big league hitters. A string of injuries quickly derailed any developmental momentum he held in the Rangers farm system and he eventually found himself throwing for the pitching starved Rockies in 2019. At one point, González featured a heavy sinker that induced a ton of groundball contact; that pitch is now an afterthought in his repertoire as he’s prioritized a four-seam fastball instead. That shifted his batted ball profile heavily towards fly ball contact, a serious detriment to his results simply based on his current home ballpark.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 57-38 0.600 -- W-W-L-L-W
Athletics 54-42 0.563 3.5 W-W-L-L-W
Mariners 50-44 0.532 6.0 W-L-W-L-W
Angels 46-47 0.495 10.0 W-L-W-L-L
Rangers 35-59 0.372 21.5 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
Rays 55-39 0.585 +2.0 L-W-L-W-L
Athletics 54-42 0.563 -- W-W-L-L-W
Mariners 50-44 0.532 3.0 W-L-W-L-W
Blue Jays 48-43 0.527 3.5 W-W-W-W-L
Yankees 48-44 0.522 3.5 W-L-L-W-W
Cleveland 47-44 0.516 4.5 W-L-W-W-L
Angels 46-47 0.495 6.5 W-L-W-L-L

The Astros lost their first series of the second half against the White Sox but got back on track with a win against Cleveland last night. Cleveland had just won two of three against the A’s last weekend to get them back into the middle of the Wild Card race. Oakland won the first game of their short two-game set against the Angels last night, dropping Los Angeles below .500 again. In the four games since the All-Star break, the Rangers have scored just twice and have allowed a whopping 39 runs.

The Blue Jays beat up on the Rangers last weekend but lost the first game of their big series against the Red Sox yesterday. The Yankees were off yesterday and host the Phillies for two games before kicking off a four-game set against Boston on Thursday. With so many Wild Card and intra-divisional matchups this week, the standings could look very different by the time the trade deadline rolls around next week.