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Series Preview: Mariners (55-48) at Rangers (36-66)

The Mariners head to Texas with some new faces on the roster.

Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Today is the MLB Trade Deadline and the Mariners probably aren’t done dealing. They’ve already swapped closers and added a young infielder to their roster and they’ve been rumored to be connected to a bunch of pitchers on the market. The two losses to finish off the homestand hurt a bit but going 4-3 against the top two teams in the division is definitely a victory. With just 2.5 games separating Seattle from Oakland, any remaining upgrades to the roster today could change the fortunes of the club in the second half.

At a Glance

Mariners Rangers
Mariners Rangers
Game 1 Friday, July 30 | 5:05 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert LHP Kolby Allard
56% 44%
Game 2 Saturday, July 31 | 4:05 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Kyle Gibson
50% 50%
Game 3 Sunday, August 1 | 11:35 am
LHP Tyler Anderson RHP Mike Foltynewicz
55% 45%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Rangers Mariners Edge
Overview Rangers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 84 (15th in AL) 91 (12th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 19 (3rd) -11 (10th) Rangers
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 119 (15th) 113 (13th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 100 (8th) 86 (2nd) Mariners

The Mariners embark on a 10-day road trip, their longest of the season by mileage, that will take them to Texas, Tampa Bay, and New York. Except for a wonky stretch where they play the Astros nine times in 18 games at the end of August, this road trip is probably the toughest stretch the Mariners will face for the rest of the season. Luckily, they’ll start it off against a depleted Rangers team.

On Wednesday, Texas traded Joey Gallo to the Yankees for a huge prospect haul. It’s likely Kyle Gibson won’t actually make his scheduled start on Saturday because he’s likely to be traded as well (possibly to the Mariners!). The Rangers were already trending towards falling behind the Orioles as the worst team in the AL and these moves should solidify that. They started off the second half of the season with a 12-game losing streak and have won just once since the All-Star break.

Rangers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Isiah Kiner-Falefa SS R 428 0.294 79 3.9
Eli White RF R 207 0.239 64 -0.1
Adolis García CF R 375 0.309 112 -2.4
Nate Lowe 1B L 411 0.328 113 -1.8
Jonah Heim C S 172 0.240 65 -1.6
Andy Ibáñez 2B R 114 0.247 74 -0.1
David Dahl DH L 213 0.281 60 -0.7
Charlie Culberson 3B R 198 0.297 77 1.4
Jason Martin LF L 57 0.188 23 0.3

The Rangers lineup looks astonishingly punchless without Gallo in the mix. The only batter with an above average line since the All-Star break is Andy Ibáñez. He’s hit .323/.417/.548 in 11 second-half games. He’s an older prospect who was enjoying a breakout season in Triple-A this year and replaced Nick Solak at second base recently. Every other player in the Rangers lineup has been pretty terrible in the second half and there are very few MLB-ready prospects they can call up. No team has ever been no-hit three times in a single season; I’d be willing to bet the Rangers will break that record this summer.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Texas Rangers v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

LHP Kolby Allard

72 2/3 22.0% 4.9% 14.6% 37.3% 4.71 4.30
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 47.3% 91.7 2146 66 90 66
Cutter 27.2% 86.3 2237 80 67 84
Changeup 14.7% 84.2 1628 84 70 97
Curveball 10.8% 76.0 1982 74 73 75

Kolby Allard had struggled in his previous stints as a starter for the Rangers. He just couldn’t make the right adjustments to find success in longer outings. He tinkered with his pitch mix but really struggled with runners on base. He started out this year in a long-relief role but made the jump to the starting rotation in late May. He had a nice run of seven starts to open this stint in the rotation, pitching to a 3.62 ERA and a 3.67 FIP, but his last three starts have been ugly. He’s allowed 16 runs over that stretch and his line as a starter has quickly ballooned up to 5.30/4.77.

RHP Kyle Gibson

113 20.4% 8.9% 9.9% 50.8% 2.87 3.75
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 12.2% 93.0 2297 86 48 86
Sinker 34.9% 92.4 2152 109 122 102
Cutter 12.3% 89.3 2377 95 116 98
Changeup 14.0% 84.9 1648 125 84 121
Curveball 9.7% 79.4 2437 98 87 65
Slider 16.8% 83.3 2523 77 117 123

From a previous series preview:

Kyle Gibson really scuffled in his first year in Texas after signing a three-year deal with them last offseason. But those struggles were mostly related to some health issues that he tried to pitch through and plenty of bad luck exacerbated by a shortened season. This year, he’s made some significant adjustments to his repertoire and has been one of the best starters in the American League. The biggest change has been the introduction of a cutter to his pitch mix. That new pitch is producing a fantastic whiff rate even though it does get knocked around a bit when it’s put in play. He’s also seen a drastic increase in vertical movement on both his sinker and changeup. That’s made both pitches more effective at generating whiffs and ground ball contact. Along with his already great slider, he now has a repertoire full of weapons to use to keep batters at bay.

This all might be moot since Gibson is heavily rumored to be moved before the trade deadline anyway. If that’s the case, the Rangers would likely call up someone from Triple-A to make a spot start, possibly Brock Burke who last pitched on Tuesday and would be making a start on Saturday on normal rest.

RHP Mike Foltynewicz

106 16.8% 5.5% 20.0% 35.4% 6.11 6.35
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 31.8% 94.0 2163 106 52 85
Sinker 21.3% 93.4 2109 102 57 108
Changeup 12.3% 85.6 1794 89 95 51
Curveball 8.7% 77.3 2350 68 42 137
Slider 25.8% 83.2 2436 82 77 89

From a previous series preview:

Back in 2018, Mike Foltynewicz’s fastball reached a peak velocity of 96.3 mph leading to a breakout season with a 2.85 ERA backed by a 3.37 FIP. But the next year, he struggled to follow up on his success and 2020 was an even greater disaster. After just one start last year where his fastball velocity was just 90.9 mph, he was designated for assignment and released by the Braves. He signed with the Rangers in the offseason in the hopes that his fastball velocity could return to its former glory. So far, it’s mostly returned, hitting 94 mph regularly. But that’s still well below what he was throwing in Atlanta during his peak seasons. His biggest issue is the long ball, as batters have crushed his fastball now that its elite velocity is gone.

This will be the fourth time Foltynewicz has faced the Mariners this season. He earned the loss in two of those previous outings and the Rangers bullpen lost the third. He has provided plenty of length for Texas in those starts, throwing seven innings in two of them and 6.2 in the other.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 63-40 0.612 -- W-W-L-W-W
Athletics 58-46 0.558 5.5 L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 55-48 0.534 8.0 W-W-W-L-L
Angels 51-51 0.500 11.5 W-W-L-W-L
Rangers 36-66 0.353 26.5 L-L-L-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rays 61-42 0.592 +4.0 W-L-L-L-W
Athletics 58-46 0.558 -- L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 55-48 0.534 2.5 W-W-W-L-L
Yankees 53-48 0.525 3.5 W-L-W-W-L
Blue Jays 51-48 0.515 4.5 L-L-W-L-W
Cleveland 50-49 0.505 5.5 L-L-W-L-W

The AL Wild Card race just got a lot more competitive in the last few days. In addition to adding Gallo to their lineup, the Yankees also went out and acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs; the A’s added Starling Marte to their outfield; and the Blue Jays added José Berríos to their rotation — and that’s just the deals that were official as of 10 am on Friday. After splitting a short two-game series in San Diego, Oakland started off a four-game set against the Angels with a win last night. Houston faces a tough road ahead as they travel to San Francisco this weekend and have a date with the Dodgers after that.

The Rays absolutely crushed the Yankees yesterday 14-0 to help them avoid a three-game sweep. They host the Red Sox this weekend before hosting the Mariners next week. The Yankees travel to Miami this weekend. The Blue Jays played the Red Sox earlier this week with a 13-1 capping off their series win. They open up a long homestand in Toronto with a three-game series against the Royals.