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Series Preview: Mariners (84-69) at Angels (73-80)

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The Mariners play their final road series of the season in Los Angeles.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, the Mariners are still alive in the Wild Card race. Even after losing three series in a row to the Astros, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox earlier this month, a five-game win streak has pushed the Mariners back into the fringes of contention. They have nine games left to play and need to win nearly all of them. It’s a tall task, but they have the benefit of playing the Angels six times to close the season. FanGraphs gives the Mariners a 5.1% chance of making the playoffs; FiveThirtyEight has 8% odds. I broke down what needs to happen for each of the teams in the Wild Card race to reach 91 wins — the projected target for the second Wild Card spot. For the Mariners, it’s simple: just win.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Friday, September 24 | 6:38 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert LHP José Suarez
51% 49%
Game 2 Saturday, September 25 | 6:07 pm
LHP Tyler Anderson RHP Jaime Barría
50% 50%
Game 3 Sunday, September 26 | 1:07 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Shohei Ohtani
46% 54%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 94 (9th in AL) 93 (11th in AL) Angels
Fielding (OAA) -23 (13th) -6 (9th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 98 (7th) 110 (12th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 98 (7th) 90 (4th) Mariners

After losing Mike Trout back in mid-May and Anthony Rendon in early-July, the Angels have floundered through another disappointing summer. They had managed to stick around the fringes of the AL Wild Card race through the All-Star break, but the magnitude of their injured stars caught up to them and they quickly dropped in the standings. Shohei Ohtani has built a phenomenal case for winning the AL MVP award with outstanding contributions at the plate and on the mound. They’ve gotten decent contributions elsewhere on the roster too — Jared Walsh, Alex Cobb, and *checks notes* Jack Mayfield have all been pretty good — but their stars and scrubs roster model currently leans heavily towards scrubs right now.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Brandon Marsh CF L 225 0.410 88 2.9
Shohei Ohtani DH/P L 599 0.298 150 2.5
Phil Gosselin LF R 339 0.330 93 0.2
Jared Walsh 1B L 545 0.324 122 -1.5
Jack Mayfield 3B R 250 0.239 82 -0.1
Jose Rojas RF L 165 0.267 81 -1.7
Max Stassi C R 298 0.344 108 -1.8
Luis Rengifo SS S 155 0.217 46 0.5
David Fletcher 2B R 631 0.295 74 3.9

Remember when Jack Mayfield spent about a month and a half in the Mariners organization after getting claimed on waivers from the Angels. After he was designated for assignment by Seattle on June 10, he was reclaimed by Los Angeles and recalled from the minors just before the All-Star break. Since then, he’s posted a .225/.289/.460 batting line, good for a 102 wRC+ during the second half of the season. He’s shown this kind of power once before, back in 2019 in Triple-A while he was still with the Astros organization. That year, he posted a .279 ISO, not too far off the .235 mark he has put up in the second half of this season. With Trout and Justin Upton sidelined for the rest of the season, the Angels called up a pair of their outfield prospects: Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell. Adell injured himself in mid-September and will miss the rest of the season, but Marsh has settled in as the everyday center fielder for the Angels.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

LHP José Suarez

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
88 1/3 21.2% 8.8% 12.2% 49.4% 3.67 4.07
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 40.9% 92.8 2188 75 85 104
Sinker 6.5% 91.4 2032 65
Changeup 28.7% 82.3 1593 117 119 87
Curveball 23.9% 78.3 2762 91 85 115

From a previous series preview:

A former top prospect in the Angels system, José Suarez 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.

Suarez has actually been pretty decent since making the transition to the rotation in July. He’s allowed more than three runs in a start just three times in 12 starts and has posted a decent 4.25 FIP as a starter. He started off September with a pair of strong starts, pitching a complete game against the Rangers and holding the Astros to just a single run in 5.2 innings. He struggled a bit against the A’s in his last start. He faced the Mariners back on July 11 and held them to just one run in five innings.


RHP Jaime Barría

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
54 2/3 14.4% 7.8% 12.7% 43.0% 4.77 4.94
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 35.2% 93.2 2306 78 62 118
Sinker 19.8% 92.7 2153 58 78 73
Changeup 8.2% 85.9 1612 61
Slider 36.8% 85.9 2192 93 70 78

Jaime Barría made his major league debut back in 2018 as a 21-year-old. Since then, he’s served as an up-and-down spot starter to varying degrees of success. He relies mainly on good command and contact management, but neither of those skills has been all that good at the major league level. When everything is working for him, he’s able to limit walks and induce a high amount of weak contact in the air. But with a feeble strikeout rate, he doesn’t really have much to fall back on if either of those skills fails him.


RHP Shohei Ohtani

IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
IP K% BB% HR/FB% GB% ERA FIP
123 1/3 28.9% 8.7% 13.2% 45.0% 3.28 3.56
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 45.7% 95.5 2220 110 92 123
Cutter 12.7% 86.9 2261 89 77 112
Splitter 17.4% 87.9 1391 69 157 97
Curveball 3.8% 74.7 2369 86
Slider 20.4% 81.9 2358 93 86 92

It’s hard not to watch what Shohei Ohtani has accomplished this year and not come away absolutely astonished. He leads the league in combined fWAR, collecting 4.7 fWAR as a batter and adding 2.7 fWAR as a pitcher. It’s been clear since his debut in 2018 that his skills as a hitter are phenomenal, but we’ve never really seen what he could accomplish on the mound until this year. Tommy John surgery kept him off the mound for all of 2019 and most of 2020 (oh, and he continued to hit while rehabbing his throwing elbow). Finally healthy, he’s been excellent as a starter this year. The Angels have understandably handled his workload carefully, allowing him to start just once a week. He relies on an excellent fastball that can reach triple digits on occasion and pairs it with a trio of solid secondary offerings. His splitter gets a ridiculous amount of whiffs and his slider has some of the highest horizontal movement in the majors.


The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 91-62 0.595 -- W-W-W-W-L
Mariners 84-69 0.549 7.0 W-W-W-W-W
Athletics 82-71 0.536 9.0 W-L-L-L-L
Angels 73-80 0.477 18.0 L-L-L-L-W
Rangers 55-98 0.359 36.0 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
Red Sox 88-65 0.575 +2.0 W-W-W-W-W
Yankees 86-67 0.562 -- L-L-W-W-W
Blue Jays 85-68 0.556 1.0 W-L-W-L-L
Mariners 84-69 0.549 2.0 W-W-W-W-W
Athletics 82-71 0.536 4.0 W-L-L-L-L

For a deeper overview of the Wild Card race, read my article posted earlier today. The Mariners are rooting for the Twins to win against the Blue Jays and the Red Sox to win against the Yankees. The Astros travel to Oakland looking to formally eliminate the A’s from playoff contention. But everything that happens to Toronto, New York, or Boston is moot if the Mariners can’t take care of their own business in Los Angeles.