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Series Preview: Mariners (22-29) at Rangers (24-26)

The Mariners head to Texas for a two-step against the Rangers and the Astros.

Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

After the 10-0 blowout on Tuesday, it looked like the series against the Orioles was shaping up to be a cakewalk. It turned out to be something much less than that, as the Mariners barely squeaked out a series win on Thursday. There were some positive signs from their trip to Baltimore; Jesse Winker, Taylor Trammell, and George Kirby all had great performances there. Now, they’ll head to Texas for a pair of series against the Rangers and Astros.

At a Glance

Mariners Rangers
Mariners Rangers
Game 1 Friday, June 3 | 5:05 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert RHP Dane Dunning
48% 52%
Game 2 Saturday, June 4 | 1:05 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales RHP Glenn Otto
46% 54%
Game 3 Sunday, June 5 | 11:35 am
RHP George Kirby LHP Martín Pérez
50% 50%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Rangers Mariners Edge
Overview Rangers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 97 (10th in AL) 113 (3rd in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -9 (14th) 3 (6th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 102 (8th) 116 (14th) Rangers
Bullpen (FIP-) 105 (12th) 109 (14th) Rangers

The Rangers started off the season slowly, limping to a 7-14 record in April. They really turned things around in May, however, racing out to a 17-10 record last month and climbing all the way back to around .500 for the season. The biggest reason for their change in fortunes was a pitching staff that improved to allow just 3.7 runs per game in May. Their offense has improved a bit as well, though mega signings Corey Seager and Marcus Semien still look like they’re acclimating to their new team.

Rangers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Marcus Semien 2B R 217 0.225 58 2.7
Corey Seager SS L 211 0.238 113 1.1
Mitch Garver DH R 136 0.238 107 0.1
Kole Calhoun RF L 168 0.302 122 0.2
Adolis García CF R 203 0.281 100 2.7
Jonah Heim C S 126 0.279 136 -0.2
Nathaniel Lowe 1B L 178 0.328 102 0.7
Zach Reks LF L 103 0.439 163
Josh H. Smith 3B L 191 0.336 110
Reks’ and Smith’s stats from Triple-A

It took nearly two months, but Semien finally collected his first home run of the season last weekend and added another yesterday. He’s posted a 120 wRC+ over his last 10 games and could be finally breaking out of his early season funk. The two players who drove a lot of the Rangers offensive success in May aren’t who you’d expect: Kole Calhoun and Jonah Heim. The former posted a 7 wRC+ in April — no typo, there’s just a single digit there — but exploded for a .306/.378/.592 slash line once the calendar turned over to May. An elbow injury to Mitch Garver which has forced him out from behind the plate into full-time DH duty has given Heim a long run as the starting catcher. He’s responded with a breakout season at the plate — maybe not a surprise for Mariners fans after he terrorized Seattle pitching last year.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

RHP Dane Dunning

54 1/3 23.5% 8.4% 15.0% 52.3% 4.31 3.79
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 42.5% 89.3 1982 88 83 105
Cutter 6.4% 86.0 2090
Changeup 21.5% 83.5 1880 105 87 95
Slider 29.0% 78.2 2089 66 107 73

From a previous series preview:

Dane Dunning has had a turbulent start to his career. He was involved in two major trades before even making his major league debut and lost a season and a half to a torn UCL. Acquired in the Lance Lynn deal prior to the 2021 season, the Rangers handled Dunning extremely carefully in his first full major league season. He averaged under five innings per start and threw more than 80 pitches in a game just four times. His approach is pretty simple: pound the zone with an average sinker and hope to get batters to chase his secondary offerings out of the zone. His slider and changeup have shown some promise but if he’s locating them off the plate so often, it becomes easier and easier for batters to just watch them go by. Four of his five pitches generate elite vertical movement, which explains how he’s able to run such a high groundball rate.

The Mariners made Dunning labor through four innings in his previous start against them in Seattle, forcing him to throw nearly 80 pitches in that short outing. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out three.

RHP Glenn Otto

35 1/3 19.1% 11.8% 13.3% 44.0% 4.33 4.76
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 27.8% 92.5 2205 54 111 103
Sinker 22.7% 92.7 2165 79 114 152
Changeup 13.3% 87.9 1689 42
Curveball 13.8% 80.5 2426 122
Slider 22.4% 80.2 2587 82 102 87

Glenn Otto was one of the headlining prospects the Rangers received in the big Joey Gallo trade last season. He racked up gaudy strikeout rates as a member of the Yankees organization and carried over those skills when he joined Texas’s farm system. He made his major league debut a month after the trade but some poor luck and bad sequencing caused his ERA to balloon to 9.26 despite a FIP that sat at a fantastic 3.17 in six starts. Despite his peripherals indicating a strong foundation, he’s struggled to follow up his debut with the same kind of success this year. The biggest issue is a walk rate that’s jumped up to 11.8% and a strikeout rate that plummeted to 19.1%.

LHP Martín Pérez

63 1/3 20.2% 5.8% 0.0% 56.0% 1.42 2.35
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 7.1% 92.9 2057 93
Sinker 37.8% 92.4 1970 96 105 95
Cutter 22.8% 89.5 2210 116 87 88
Changeup 25.1% 84.2 1668 133 108 124
Curveball 7.2% 78.8 2526 55

Somehow, someway, Martín Pérez is leading all qualified starters in ERA this year. Across 10 starts, he’s allowed just 10 earned runs and hasn’t yet allowed a home run on the season. An effective innings eater for most of his career, Pérez has suddenly turned into a premier starter without any significant changes to his repertoire. The secret behind his success? Impeccable command. Nearly half of his pitches thrown this year have been located in the shadow zone — on the edge of the rulebook strike zone — a huge improvement in his ability to command his pitches. That’s led to career-bests in ERA, FIP, xFIP, and strikeout and walk rates.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 33-18 0.647 -- L-W-W-W-W
Angels 27-25 0.519 6.5 L-L-L-L-L
Rangers 24-26 0.480 8.5 L-W-W-L-L
Mariners 22-29 0.431 11.0 W-L-W-L-W
Athletics 20-33 0.377 14.0 L-W-L-L-L

The Angels have continued their free fall after scoring just three runs in three games against the Yankees. They’ve lost eight in a row and now travel to Philadelphia this weekend to face a Phillies club in a similar amount of turmoil. The Astros easily swept away the A’s earlier this week and will travel to Kansas City to face the hapless Royals this weekend.

SB Nation has partnered with DraftKings to sponsor select series previews this season. Here are the betting odds for this series.

Series Odds

Series Outcome Odds
Series Outcome Odds
Mariners win +100
Rangers win -125