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Series Preview: Mariners (36-41) vs. Athletics (25-52)

The Mariners host the Athletics for four games this weekend.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Remember all the way back to mid-June when the Mariners were entering their five-game series against the Angels? It seems like forever ago, I know. That mega series began an 18-game stretch against teams below .500 that ends with this weekend series against the A’s. I thought that if the Mariners could go 12-6 during this stretch, they’d get back to around .500 and position themselves well for a nice little run into the All-Star break. They’ve gone 8-6 so far and need a sweep against Oakland to hit that benchmark. I think they can do it.

At a Glance

Athletics Mariners
Athletics Mariners
Game 1 Thursday, June 30 | 7:10 pm
RHP Adrian Martinez RHP Logan Gilbert
37% 63%
Game 2 Friday, July 1 | 7:10 pm
RHP James Kaprielian LHP Marco Gonzales
38% 62%
Game 3 Saturday, July 2 | 1:10 pm
RHP Paul Blackburn RHP George Kirby
39% 61%
Game 4 Sunday, July 3 | 1:10 pm
RHP Frankie Montas LHP Robbie Ray
41% 59%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 76 (15th in AL) 107 (6th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 3 (9th) 2 (10th) Athletics
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 116 (14th) 113 (12th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 106 (13th) 102 (9th) Mariners

Nothing much has changed for the A’s since the last time these two teams met in Oakland a few weeks ago. They managed to win a series against the Royals in Kansas City last weekend but were just swept by the Yankees, though all three games in New York were surprisingly competitive. They did activate Stephen Piscotty off the IL on Tuesday and called up another one of their infield prospects in Nick Allen recently. The former is likely trying to build up some value before getting traded this summer while the latter is one of the A’s top prospects and a defensive wizard.

Athletics Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Tony Kemp LF L 273 0.248 75 1.1
Ramón Laureano RF R 184 0.306 103 0.9
Seth Brown 1B L 247 0.276 112 1.6
Sean Murphy C R 275 0.260 98 -0.8
Stephen Piscotty DH R 54 0.303 99 -0.6
Elvis Andrus SS R 258 0.262 86 1.0
Sheldon Neuse 3B R 214 0.317 75 1.5
Nick Allen 2B R 56 0.263 106 0.1
Cristian Pache CF R 214 0.210 24 -0.7

There have been very few bright spots for the A’s offense recently. Just five players have a wRC+ over 100 over the last two weeks — one of them is currently in the minors and one is Piscotty who has played in just two games since being activated off the IL. Seth Brown has put together a nice little eight-game hitting streak recently with four multi-hit games, two home runs, and four doubles during that stretch. Because he’s heavily platooned with Christian Bethancourt at first base, he isn’t getting full-time at bats, but he’s making the most of his action against right-handed pitching. Despite his reputation as a glove-first infielder, Allen has looked a lot more polished at the plate since getting recalled a couple of weeks ago. He’s collected a hit in all but one game since returning to the big leagues and has walked more than he’s struck out during that time.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Adrian Martinez

64 26.4% 8.3% 24.5% 47.4% 5.63 5.63
Triple-A Stats

Adrian Martinez was one of the prospects the A’s acquired from the Padres for Sean Manaea right before the season started. He was never ranked on the Padres prospect lists but he’s put together decent performances in the upper minors. He posted a 3.14 FIP in 17 appearances in Double-A last year, though he struggled upon reaching Triple-A later on in the year. He made his major league debut on May 10 in a spot start against the Tigers, holding them scoreless over 5.1 innings. A sinker-heavy approach should help him keep the ball on the ground regularly, with an okay slider and a promising changeup providing some whiffs.

RHP James Kaprielian

52 15.8% 10.5% 15.9% 39.9% 5.88 6.12
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 53.6% 93.7 2026 78 73 114
Changeup 9.4% 84.5 1406 123
Curveball 11.7% 79.1 2469 97 37 120
Slider 24.2% 86.6 2207 111 98 88

From a previous series preview:

James Kaprielian missed nearly three and half years of development after multiple injuries to his throwing arm kept him off the mound from early 2016 through 2018. Finally completely healthy, he made 21 starts for the A’s last year and enjoyed some solid success. He posted a 4.07 ERA that was backed by a 4.33 FIP and a decent 3.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those injury concerns cropped up again this spring, as some shoulder irritation sidelined him until May 1. He has a solid four-pitch repertoire with his slider and changeup grading out much better than his mediocre fastball.

Kaprielian looked a lot better in his last start against the Mariners, holding them to just two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out seven.

RHP Paul Blackburn

80 2/3 18.6% 6.3% 11.1% 49.6% 3.12 3.62
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 9.8% 91.6 2142 40 100 80
Sinker 36.0% 91.8 2010 89 95 88
Cutter 18.0% 87.0 2491 119 105 78
Changeup 13.0% 86.0 1825 64 96 103
Curveball 18.5% 78.9 2607 126 93 101
Slider 4.6% 79.1 2559 75

From a previous series preview:

Nearly an afterthought on the A’s 40-man roster after putting up a 5.74 ERA across his first five seasons in the big leagues, Paul Blackburn has broken out in his best season yet. A soft-tosser who relies on a deep repertoire and good command, he’s figured out a way to get batters to swing and miss at more of his pitches in the zone rather than trying to get them to chase out of the zone. His in-zone contact rate has fallen from around 90% for his career to 84.4% this season and his overall contact rate has dropped to 75.1%, one of the lowest rates among qualified starters. When batters do make contact with his pitches, they’ve struggled to make quality contact too. The result has been one of the more unlikely breakout seasons in the majors.

The Mariners handed Blackburn his worst start of the season in their last meeting; he allowed seven runs on ten hits and two walks, striking out just four.

RHP Frankie Montas

95.2 25.8% 6.3% 11.8% 46.9% 3.20 3.21
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 27.6% 96.2 2358 164 131 74
Sinker 21.7% 95.6 2236 133 105 135
Cutter 9.3% 89.4 2400 97 102 76
Splitter 25.7% 86.4 1425 122 105 103
Slider 15.7% 87.0 2407 121 115 142

From a previous series preview:

You can probably count the number of remaining Frankie Montas starts on the A’s on one hand. The best player who wasn’t purged during their offseason fire sale, he has led their depleted rotation through the first half of the season. Back in 2019, he added a splitter to his arsenal which helped him post a breakout season before a PED suspension cut it short. Some inconsistency with that pitch led to a big step back in the shortened 2020 season but he seemingly figured things out last year. He’s throwing the split more than ever this year and the positive results have followed. He should net a huge haul of prospects closer to the trade deadline, further fueling the A’s rebuild.

Montas took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start against the Mariners; that was the same game the A’s bullpen blew the game with two runs scoring on wild pitches in the ninth.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 47-27 0.635 -- W-W-L-W-W
Rangers 36-38 0.486 11.0 W-L-W-W-L
Angels 37-41 0.474 12.0 L-W-W-L-W
Mariners 36-41 0.468 12.5 W-L-L-W-W
Athletics 25-52 0.325 23.5 W-W-L-L-L

The Mariners, Angels, and Rangers continue to cluster around each other, jockeying for position behind the Astros in the AL West. Los Angeles won two of three from the White Sox earlier this week and will travel to Houston for a three-game set this weekend. The Rangers also won their series against the Royals this week and will travel to face the Mets this weekend. With both of those teams facing stiff competition, the Mariners have an opportunity to separate themselves from their division rivals.

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 -115
Series Tied +175
Athletics win +475