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Series Preview: Mariners (46-42) vs. Angels (44-42)

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The Mariners wrap up their long homestand with a three-game series against the Angels.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That series against the Yankees didn’t go very well but it wasn’t the disaster it could have been thanks to an outstanding performance by Logan Gilbert on Thursday afternoon. And because the Astros won two of three against the A’s, the Mariners didn’t budge in the Wild Card standings. With the All-Star break right around the corner, the Angels arrive in Seattle for another series against a long-shot Wild Card contender. This is actually more like a six-game series since the Mariners travel to Los Angeles for three more games right after the break. It’s a prime opportunity for one of these teams to bury the other right before the trade deadline.

At a Glance

Angels Mariners
Angels Mariners
Game 1 Friday, July 9 | 7:10 pm
RHP Alex Cobb LHP Marco Gonzales
50% 50%
Game 2 Saturday, July 10 | 7:10 pm
LHP Patrick Sandoval RHP Chris Flexen
50% 50%
Game 3 Sunday, July 11 | 1:10 pm
LHP José Suarez TBD
44% 56%
*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) -23 (15th) -7 (10th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 99 (7th) 112 (13th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 105 (12th) 87 (2nd) Mariners

Somehow, the Angels have managed to stick around the fringes of the Wild Card race despite missing Mike Trout for nearly two months. It’s been a roller-coaster ride however; they were swept by the A’s and had a five-game losing streak earlier in June, but won series against the Yankees and Red Sox recently. Their pitching staff has been a touch better since the calendar turned to June but it’s been their offense that’s really carried the load. They’ve scored 5.8 runs per game since June 1, the second best mark in baseball during that period.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
David Fletcher 2B R 340 0.335 89 1.9
Shohei Ohtani DH L 330 0.297 179 1.4
Jared Walsh 1B L 341 0.338 144 -0.7
Phil Gosselin LF R 119 0.416 130 -1.8
Max Stassi C R 123 0.424 153 0.2
José Iglesias SS R 284 0.306 93 -0.2
Taylor Ward RF R 207 0.291 108 0.1
Juan Lagares CF R 181 0.257 57 -0.1
Luis Rengifo 3B S 77 0.189 31 0.3

Besides Shohei Ohtani, their lineup has been missing most of their big names for quite a while now, yet they’ve been surprisingly potent. Justin Upton was surging before hitting the Injured List in late June and Anthony Rendon was picking it up as well before another nagging injury cost him another trip to the IL early this month. Their replacements haven’t been great, but Ohtani’s otherworldly results at the plate have more than made up for their missing star power. Taylor Ward and Phil Gosselin have both provided some power though neither performance looks all that sustainable. David Fletcher has broken out of his early season slump and has come on strong in the last month or so.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Alex Cobb

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
60 2/3 27.3% 7.1% 10.3% 58.4% 4.60 2.58
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 41.2% 92.4 2078 99 95 89
Splitter 38.2% 87.4 1652 52 112 90
Curveball 16.5% 82.4 2604 123 93 94

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.

The Mariners scored five runs off Cobb the last time they faced him. He managed to last seven innings in that game because he faced the minimum number of batters in all but one inning. But that one crooked inning ended with five runs on the scoreboard off a walk, two singles, a hit batter, and a grand slam.


LHP Patrick Sandoval

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
49 26.0% 10.8% 21.1% 52.8% 3.86 4.60
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 27.3% 93.5 2105 77 77 109
Sinker 15.4% 93.5 1948 74 104 111
Changeup 33.1% 84.7 1602 94 171 122
Curveball 10.6% 78.5 2831 102
Slider 13.5% 86.1 2602 105 128 114
Sandoval’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

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.


LHP José Suarez

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
30 1/3 23.2% 10.4% 14.3% 47.6% 2.37 4.26
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 45.6% 92.7 2208 84 98 105
Changeup 32.6% 82.3 1586 129 119 80
Curveball 19.7% 78.2 2802 95 91 99

The struggles of Dylan Bundy have forced the Angels to move him to the bullpen too. In his place, José Suarez made his first true start of the year earlier this week. He had been used as a bulk reliever and had done well in that role, though his ERA is far outpacing his average FIP. A former top prospect in the Angels system, he’s had a rough time adjusting to the majors across three seasons. Just 23 years old, he’s got plenty of time to continue to develop and it looks like the Angels have finally given him an opportunity to prove himself in the rotation for now. He has a decent fastball that he throws around half the time with his best secondary offering an above-average changeup. He also spins a good curveball that’s used more for generating weak contact on the ground rather than whiffs.


The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 54-34 0.614 -- W-W-W-W-L
Athletics 50-39 0.562 4.5 W-L-L-L-W
Mariners 46-42 0.523 8.0 L-W-L-L-W
Angels 44-42 0.512 9.0 W-W-L-W-W
Rangers 34-53 0.391 19.5 W-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 51-36 0.586 +2.0 L-W-W-W-W
Athletics 50-39 0.562 -- W-L-L-L-W
Blue Jays 44-40 0.524 3.5 W-W-L-L-W
Mariners 46-42 0.523 3.5 L-W-L-L-W
Yankees 44-42 0.512 4.5 L-W-W-W-L
Angels 44-42 0.512 4.5 W-W-L-W-W

The A’s recent struggles have allowed a bunch of teams to hang around in the Wild Card race. They’ve won just eight times in their last 20 games and limp into the All-Star break with a three-game set in Texas. The Astros continued to put some distance between them and Oakland atop the AL West standings and will host the Yankees this weekend.

The Blue Jays split a short two-game set against the Orioles but moved into a virtual tie with the Mariners on account of Seattle’s one extra loss this week. They’ll travel to Tampa Bay this weekend. Cleveland finally broke their nine-game losing streak with a walk-off win against the Royals last night. They’re barely holding on in the Wild Card race, just behind the Yankees and Angels.