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Series Preview: Mariners (20-28) at Orioles (21-29)

The Mariners head out on another long road trip beginning in Baltimore.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After a short six game homestand, the Mariners are once again headed back to the East Coast to face the Baltimore Orioles, and get a peak at the new Camden Yards dimensions. The results of the homestand being backwards as they are — dropping two to the A’s and taking two from the Astros — who knows what to expect from this series? We do! That’s the point of these previews, after all.

At a Glance

Mariners Orioles
Mariners Orioles
Game 1 Tuesday, May 31 | 4:05 pm
RHP George Kirby RHP Bryan Baker
56% 44%
Game 2 Wednesday, June 1 | 4:05 pm
LHP Robbie Ray RHP Kyle Bradish
57% 43%
Game 3 Thursday, June 2 | 4:05 pm
RHP Chris Flexen RHP Jordan Lyles
54% 46%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 92 (12th in AL) 111 (3rd in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -5 (13th) 3 (6th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 116 (13th) 118 (14th) Orioles
Bullpen (FIP-) 89 (4th) 105 (9th) Orioles

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that the Baltimore Orioles are not very good at baseball. The Orioles, much like I-35 as it cuts through Austin, seem to be perpetually rebuilding. They are having an expectedly slow start to the season, and currently sit dead last in the AL East. I am aware of aphorisms regarding glass houses and the throwing of stones, however, so I won’t judge them too hard for their record.

While their hitting and starting pitching has been bad, Baltimore’s bullpen has been great, and has been striking out batters while also limiting home runs. After last weekend’s heavy dose of Mariner home runs, maybe the M’s will be able to turn the Orioles’ bullpen’s fortune around.

Orioles Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Cedric Mullins CF L 219 0.279 95 2.3
Trey Mancini DH R 198 0.370 130 -0.9
Anthony Santander RF S 205 0.230 115 -1.9
Austin Hays LF R 188 0.331 138 0.5
Adley Rutschman C S 40 0.250 75 0.0
Ryan Mountcastle 1B R 161 0.330 102 0.5
Rougned Odor 2B L 150 0.275 89 0.4
Ramón Urías 3B R 166 0.279 84 0.8
Jorge Mateo SS R 166 0.302 76 2.2

Like the Mariners a year or two ago, the Orioles are poised to start graduating some of their top prospects. Notably, last week they called up MLB Pipeline’s top prospect for 2022, Adley Rutschman. Rutschman hasn’t exploded onto the scene, posting a 75 wRC+ in his first nine games, but the folks at Pipeline put him above Julio and Bobby Witt Jr., not to mention he dominated college ball, so he could break out at any moment. The rest of the Baltimore lineup has, predictably, underwhelmed this season, posting MLB’s fifth worst wRC+ of 88. They also have a pretty terrible ISO of .122 although they can blame that partially on the new wall in left field, which is now miles away from home plate.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Game One-Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Bryan Baker

19 1/3 24.7% 7.1% 6.7% 42.1% 4.66 2.72

The Orioles have listed Bryan Baker as their starting pitcher for today’s game, though he’ll likely just serve as an extended opener. In his one previous start this year, he lasted 2.1 innings against the Cardinals, working through their lineup once. All of his other 17 appearances have come as a reliever. After playing five games in the last four days, their pitching staff is stretched pretty thin. Once Baker has taken his turn through the Mariners’ order, Baltimore might turn to Keegan Akin for another turn through the order and then turn it over to the rest of their bullpen to finish off the game.

RHP Kyle Bradish

28 1/3 23.6% 7.3% 23.3% 41.5% 7.31 5.57
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 52.9% 94.7 2307 99 93 88
Changeup 9.8% 89.5 1450
Curveball 9.4% 81.6 2461
Slider 27.8% 86.0 2476 134 116 63

Kyle Bradish was the seventh ranked prospect in a loaded Orioles system. He made his major league debut in late April but has struggled to really establish himself in the big leagues across six starts. Acquired in the big Dylan Bundy trade back in 2019, he’s quickly moved through Baltimore’s organization. He possesses an arrow straight fastball that he leans on more than half the time. It’s been knocked around by big league batters and he really needs pinpoint location for it to be truly effective. His best pitch is a sweeping slider that possesses elite movement in both dimensions and has induced a whiff over 40% of the time batters swing at it. That pitch alone gives him a good foundation to build off of, but he’ll need to figure out how to improve his heater before he can really find success in the majors.

RHP Jordan Lyles

57 20.5% 6.8% 12.1% 44.6% 4.26 4.05
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 26.7% 91.9 2215 62 92 94
Sinker 21.0% 90.9 2091 74 107 96
Changeup 15.7% 86.6 1479 63 88 89
Curveball 11.6% 79.5 2272 96 58 164
Slider 24.9% 80.4 2639 102 83 115

After struggling in Texas over the last two years, Jordan Lyles signed a one-year deal with the Orioles this offseason. Some significant changes to his pitch mix have helped him regain the success he enjoyed back in 2018-’19 with the Brewers, Padres, and Pirates. The biggest difference is the number of four-seam fastballs he’s throwing, from around 40% with the Rangers to just over a quarter of the time this year. Instead, he’s increased the usage of his sinker and changeup while continuing to throw his decent slider around a quarter of the time. Reducing his usage of his four-seamer has led to a big jump in groundball rate along with a corresponding drop in home run rate.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 31-18 0.633 -- W-W-L-L-W
Angels 27-22 0.551 4.0 L-L-L-L-L
Rangers 23-24 0.489 7.0 W-W-W-L-W
Mariners 20-28 0.417 10.5 L-L-W-W-L
Athletics 20-31 0.392 12.0 L-L-L-W-L

We all knew it was coming at some point. After their strong start to the season, the Angels have really slipped as the month comes to a close. They were just swept by the Blue Jays in four games at home and have now won just five of their last 15 games. They’ll travel to New York to face the best team in the American League this week. On the other hand, the Rangers have quickly ascended in the standings after winning three of four in Oakland over the weekend and starting off a four-game series against the Rays with a win yesterday. They’re just a game under .500 and things are finally starting to look promising in Texas. After losing the weekend series to the Mariners, the Astros got back on track with an easy 5-1 win against the A’s yesterday.