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Series Preview: Diamondbacks (45-95) at Mariners (76-64)

The Mariners entertain the worst team in baseball for a three-game set

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After getting swept in back-to-back series by AL West teams (Seattle in three games and Texas in a two-game set), the Diamondbacks now have the ignominious distinction of possessing the worst record in baseball, edging out the Baltimore Orioles by one loss and, for now, holding possession of the first pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. This series represents an opportunity for the Mariners to bounce back after a series loss against the Astros, and also a chance for the D-Backs to maintain their slender lead over Baltimore for that first overall pick.

At a Glance

At a Glance

Diamondbacks Mariners
Diamondbacks Mariners
Game 1 Friday, September 10 | 7:10 pm
LHP Madison Bumgarner LHP Marco Gonzales
38% 62%
Game 2 Saturday, September 11 | 6:10 pm
RHP Humberto Castellanos RHP Chris Flexen
37% 63%
Game 3 Sunday, September 12 | 1:10 pm
LHP Tyler Gilbert LHP Yusei Kikuchi
40% 60%

The Mariners are mixing up their starters some from the last series—Tyler Anderson, who started the first game of the last series, is currently on the bereavement list—but the D-Backs are running out the exact same trio of pitchers the Mariners saw last time, as Merrill Kelly remains on the COVID-IL. Whee.

Team Overview

Team Overview

Overview Diamondbacks Mariners Edge
Overview Diamondbacks Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 85 (13th in NL) 92 (12th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -5 (9th) -3 (9th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 114 (13th) 112 (12th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 115 (15th) 87 (2nd) Mariners

There’s not a consensus top pick every year in the MLB Draft, but this year it’s high school outfielder Elijah Green, a 6’3” five-tool player from Florida whose skillset has future superstar scrawled all over it. The Diamondbacks and Orioles will be engaged in the Elijah Green Derby over this back stretch of the season, where currently Arizona has the slimmest of leads. The Mariners and Diamondbacks each need the Orioles to show some mettle against Toronto in order to further their respective goals. Let’s go, Birdland.

Diamondbacks Lineup

Projected Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Nick Ahmed SS R 450 0.280 67 0.5
Ketel Marte CF S 290 0.367 142 -1.5
Carson Kelly C R 295 0.277 113 -0.5
David Peralta LF L 471 0.303 96 1.3
Christian Walker 1B R 373 0.296 81 1.0
Josh Rojas RF L 477 0.346 110 3.8
Andrew Young 2B R 88 0.355 129 -1.0
Drew Ellis 3B R 83 0.195 40 -0.1

As the Mariners saw last time out, there’s not a ton of fearsome hitters in this Diamondbacks lineup after getting past the top of the order. Sure, there are hitters who can put a good swing on the ball from time to time and clobber a ball over the fence, but as far as consistent offensive production, there’s not much of that outside of former Mariner Ketel Marte, although 2017 first-rounder Pavin Smith has been solid offensively even as he’s suffered some defensive hiccups (-3 OAA, second-last on a poor-fielding team next to converted infielder Ketel Marte, at -5). (Smith is canceled out in the infield by Nick Ahmed, MLB’s overall leader in OAA, at +19.) Rookie Daulton Varsho has been promising at times but looked overmatched against Seattle pitching in the last series, chasing out of the zone often, and Mariners pitching also exploited big-slugging but high-strikeout-prone rookie Andrew Young. More of that, please.

Probable pitchers:

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Stuff+ scores for Mariners starters (Update: The Stuff+ scores for Mariners starters have been updated with August data)

Seattle Mariners v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Game One Starter: LHP Madison Bumgarner

LHP Madison Bumgarner

123 1/3 20.4% 6.7% 11.0% 32.3% 4.52 4.46
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 33.1% 90.5 2347 41 74 88
Cutter 35.1% 86.0 2433 74 80 111
Changeup 7.2% 83.7 1440 70 52 81
Curveball 22.1% 77.9 2484 84 92 88

From the last series preview:

Madison Bumgarner had a terrible first year in Arizona last year, posting career worsts in nearly every single significant pitching category. He was never a hard thrower, but his fastball velocity took a dramatic dip last season, down to 88.4 mph. It’s barely above 90 mph this year and his results have bounced back a bit. Because he debuted in the majors at such a young age, his arm already has a ton of miles on it despite only turning 32 a month ago. He’s had spurts of sustained success this year but another shoulder injury earlier in the season sidelined him for a month and a half. He still relies heavily on his cutter as his best secondary offering and a decent curveball as his only breaking ball.

Bumgarner wasn’t particularly sharp against the Mariners last weekend, walking five and allowing five hits en route to giving up five runs in six innings.

Game Two Starter: RHP Humberto Castellanos

RHP Humberto Castellanos

24 2/3 16.3% 9.6% 8.7% 46.5% 3.65 4.18
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 24.9% 90.3 2068 38 79 68
Sinker 27.9% 90.0 1968 81 66 95
Changeup 8.5% 83.9 1259
Curveball 29.1% 76.3 2315 70 68 89
Slider 9.7% 87.0 1982

Merrill Kelly remains on the COVID-IL for now, so the Mariners again miss one of Arizona’s better starters and get another shot at the pitcher who made his third spot start of the season last weekend, lasting into the fourth inning before giving way to Caleb Smith in a piggyback role. He’s listed as the starter for Saturday’s game, which would be his first consecutive start on regular rest of the season. Castellanos was signed out of the Mexican League back in 2015 by the Astros. He originally was an infielder but converted to pitching after joining Houston’s organization. He made his major league debut last year with eight appearances out of the Astros bullpen but was claimed off waivers in the offseason by the Diamondbacks. He throws a pair of fastballs pretty equally and mixes in a vertical curveball to play off those two heaters. None of his pitches are all that effective at generating whiffs however. In the minors, he relied on an outstanding walk rate and a pretty good groundball rate to keep batters at bay.

Game Three Starter: LHP Tyler Gilbert

LHP Tyler Gilbert

34 2/3 16.7% 8.7% 5.1% 40.8% 3.12 3.71
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 24.3% 89.7 2162 27 50 132
Sinker 17.9% 89.5 2005 56 86 196
Cutter 44.7% 86.3 2244 71 69 85
Splitter 5.0% 80.3 1376
Curveball 8.1% 75.5 2394

From a previous series preview:

Tyler Gilbert made history by pitching a no-hitter in his first major league start back on August 14. Although that incredible start to his major league career might deceive you, Gilbert wasn’t a highly ranked prospect in the Diamondbacks organization. He was originally drafted by the Phillies and was traded to the Dodgers in February 2020. He spent all of last year at Los Angeles’s alternate site and was claimed by the Diamondbacks on waivers after the season. He doesn’t throw an overpowering fastball, or possess a sweeping breaking ball. Instead, he relies on good command and a deep repertoire and he had everything working against the Padres on that historic night. He’s made three more starts since then and has allowed 20 hits in 15 innings.

Gilbert stifled the Mariners across seven innings, scattering four hits and two walks while allowing just three runs. He only struck out three batters, instead relying on tons of weak contact to get outs.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 81-58 0.583 -- L-L-W-W-L
Athletics 76-64 0.543 5.5 L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 76-64 0.543 5.5 W-W-L-L-W
Angels 69-71 0.493 12.5 W-L-L-W-L
Rangers 51-88 0.367 30.0 L-W-W-W-W

The Wild Card Race:

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Red Sox 80-62 0.563 +1.0 W-L-L-L-W
Yankees 78-62 0.557 -- L-L-L-L-L
Blue Jays 77-62 0.554 0.5 W-W-W-W-W
Athletics 76-64 0.543 2.0 L-L-L-W-W
Mariners 76-64 0.543 2.0 W-W-L-L-W

The Mariners didn’t help themselves with a series loss to the Astros, and the A’s didn’t help the Mariners with a series win against the White Sox. Seattle desperately needs to continue to play well against Arizona while the A’s have a series against the Rangers, winners of 7 of their last 10 but still, regrettably, the Texas Rangers. The Blue Jays, as noted above, also get to play the Orioles, so will likely remain neck-and-neck with the Mariners if both teams can win out against their weaker opponents. Boston is the only one of the Wild Card teams with a tough slate in a three-game set against the White Sox, although who knows how the Yankees-Mets Subway Series will go. Meanwhile, the Astros get to cruise against the Angels, these same D-Backs, and the Angels over their next ten games, so a shot at the division will likely be out of reach, making the Wild Card Seattle’s likeliest hope for postseason play.