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Series Preview: Mariners (72-62) at Diamondbacks (45-90)

The Mariners head down to the desert to face the worst team in the National League.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After such a frustrating loss to start their series against Houston on Monday night, the Mariners came back with two extremely impressive shutout wins to secure the series win. The Yankees had already done it earlier this season, but the last time the Astros were shutout in consecutive games was all the way back in 2013, their first season in the AL West. With their momentum rebuilt after their ugly series loss to the Royals, the Mariners head to Arizona to face the worst team in the National League.

At a Glance

Mariners Diamondbacks
Mariners Diamondbacks
Game 1 Friday, September 3 | 6:40 pm
LHP Tyler Anderson LHP Madison Bumgarner
52% 48%
Game 2 Saturday, September 4 | 5:10 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales TBD
54% 46%
Game 3 Sunday, September 5 | 1:10 pm
RHP Chris Flexen LHP Tyler Gilbert
53% 47%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview Diamondbacks Mariners Edge
Overview Diamondbacks Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 86 (13th in NL) 91 (13th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -1 (8th) 1 (9th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 115 (13th) 110 (12th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 116 (15th) 87 (3rd) Mariners

After starting off the season two games over .500 through April, the Diamondbacks won just eight total games over the next two months. That stretch of futility included their historic road losing streak and it looked like they were well on their way towards breaking the all-time worst season in MLB history. Fortunately, they haven’t been nearly as bad since the calendar turned over to July, going 22-30 over the last two months of the season. Still, they’re well on their way towards losing more than 100 games this year and have a good shot at earning the number one pick in the 2022 draft. The Mariners face them six times in the next ten days and they need to take advantage of this opportunity against one of the worst teams in baseball.

Diamondbacks Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Josh Rojas 2B L 457 0.354 113 3.7
Ketel Marte CF S 266 0.387 149 -1.1
Carson Kelly C R 279 0.293 118 -0.2
Christian Walker 1B R 359 0.297 83 0.7
Pavin Smith LF L 479 0.319 97 -1.7
Drew Ellis 3B R 76 0.216 42 0.1
Daulton Varsho RF R 219 0.260 99 2.2
Nick Ahmed SS R 434 0.280 64 0.5

For a team that’s so low in the standings, the Diamondbacks still have a surprising number of veterans in their lineup. David Peralta, Christian Walker, and Nick Ahmed are each over 30 years old and are still getting regular playing time. The core of their team — and the reason they’re not committed to a dramatic tear down — are all under 30. Ketel Marte is a bonafide superstar but promising seasons from Josh Rojas, Carson Kelly, Pavin Smith, and Daulton Varsho have given Marte a supporting cast for the Diamondbacks to build around.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

LHP Madison Bumgarner

117 1/3 20.6% 6.1% 10.4% 32.6% 4.37 4.23
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 35.6% 90.5 2337 42 68 90
Cutter 34.9% 86.0 2441 74 77 111
Changeup 6.9% 83.7 1442 68 49 84
Curveball 22.6% 78.0 2490 84 91 90

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.

This spot in the rotation would have been Merrill Kelly’s but he was placed on the COVID-19 Injured List back on August 15 and has only progressed to throwing bullpen sessions since his positive test. There’s a possibility he could be activated for this series or next weekend’s series, but it’s more likely the Diamondbacks will go with a bullpen game this weekend. They can send Kelly out for a rehab start in the meantime and get him back closer to full strength in a week. The Diamondbacks just announced that Taylor Widener would move to the bullpen after Luke Weaver was activated from the IL earlier this week, but he’s the pitcher who is stretched out the longest on their staff. He could make a spot start on Saturday if Kelly isn’t ready to go.

LHP Tyler Gilbert

27 2/3 17.9% 8.9% 6.7% 41.6% 2.93 3.84
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 26.4% 89.7 2153 27 47 135
Sinker 18.9% 89.4 1990 53
Cutter 44.4% 86.1 2228 69 67 91
Splitter 2.8% 79.4 1339
Curveball 7.5% 74.9 2375

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.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 78-55 0.586 -- W-L-W-L-L
Athletics 74-60 0.552 4.5 W-W-W-L-W
Mariners 72-62 0.537 6.5 L-W-L-W-W
Angels 66-68 0.493 12.5 L-W-W-W-L
Rangers 47-86 0.353 31.0 L-W-W-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Yankees 77-56 0.579 +1.5 L-L-L-L-W
Red Sox 77-59 0.566 -- L-L-L-W-W
Athletics 74-60 0.552 2.0 W-W-W-L-W
Mariners 72-62 0.537 4.0 L-W-L-W-W
Blue Jays 70-62 0.530 5.0 W-W-W-L-W

Those two wins on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Astros were critical to help the Mariners keep pace with the Red Sox and A’s. Boston ended up splitting their four-game series against the Rays after losing the first two games. They’re suffering through a COVID outbreak on their roster with eight players currently sidelined, including their star shortstop Xander Bogaerts. They return home this weekend to face Cleveland before another three-game series against the Rays next week. The A’s won their series in Detroit to keep pace in the Wild Card race. They travel to Toronto this weekend to play the Blue Jays. After Oakland broke their 13-game win streak last weekend, the Yankees lost four straight and barely avoided a sweep by the Angels earlier this week. They’re scheduled to return to New York this weekend but with the flash flooding that occurred on Wednesday, it’s possible their weekend series with the Orioles could be moved or postponed. The Astros will look to score some runs against the Padres in San Diego this weekend.