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Series Preview: Mariners (55-48) at Yankees (69-34)

The Mariners head to New York to face the Yankees for three games.

New York Yankees vs Detroit Tigers Set Number: X164081 TK1

After a 3-1 series loss to the Astros, things don’t get any easier for the Mariners as they trudge up to the Bronx to face the Yankees, the only team better than the Astros in the American League and the second-best team in baseball behind the Dodgers. It could be argued the Yankees are even more impressive a squad than the Dodgers, not being gifted the Rockies and Diamondbacks to beat up on in-division, and unlike the Astros, who (recent sweep aside) get to wail on the hapless Athletics as well as their other favorite AL West punching bags, have to face a division which houses two near-locks for Wild Card spots along with a surprisingly good .500 team in the Orioles and a surprisingly bad .500 team in the Red Sox. The Mariners will also have to go into this series shorthanded, with Julio Rodríguez hitting the IL with a wrist injury and Ty France’s status up in the air, although they’ll hopefully be buoyed by newcomer Luis Castillo joining the rotation this series.

At a Glance

Mariners Yankees
Mariners Yankees
Game 1 Monday, August 8 | 7:10 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert RHP Jameson Taillon
47% 53%
Game 2 Tuesday, August 9 | 7:10 pm
RHP Luis Castillo RHP Gerrit Cole
47% 53%
Game 3 Wednesday, August 10 | 1:10 pm
LHP Robbie Ray LHP Nestor Cortes
46% 54%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Yankees Mariners Edge
Overview Yankees Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 121 (1st in AL) 105 (5th in AL) Yankees
Fielding (OAA) 12 (7th) 7 (10th) Yankees
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 91 (3rd) 112 (12th) Yankees
Bullpen (FIP-) 79 (1st) 98 (7th) Yankees

Spare a thought for the brave and doughty Yankees fans, suffering through a World Series appearance drought that dates all the way back to…2009. That’s their longest appearance drought since the interminable stretch between 1982 and 1995, which for many newer-minted Yankees fans might as well be the Paleozoic Era, but for dyed-in-the-wool Mariners oldheads is the time between Fisher-Price cars and getting their driver’s licenses. All of that looks to end this year, though; the Dodgers are still favored to win at most sports betting outlets (+350), but the Yankees are right on their heels (+375). FanGraphs projects the Astros with slightly better odds to win the WS than the Yankees, but 538 significantly favors the Bronx Bombers. It’s not hard to squint and see the Yankees and Astros battling it out in the ALCS, as the two teams match up almost evenly, with Houston maybe having a slight edge on pitching and the Yankees a slight one on offense (albeit with both teams playing their home games in Baby’s First Ballpark, Plan A and Plan A reverse). If the Mariners thought they were getting any kind of a break after finishing up their season series against Houston (Hoo, and we cannot stress this enough, Ray), this next stretch against the Yankees should disabuse them of that notion pretty quickly.

Yankees Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
DJ LeMahieu 2B R 427 0.306 139 -3.3
Aaron Judge RF R 459 0.314 193 0.9
Anthony Rizzo 1B L 415 0.206 142 -1.8
Josh Donaldson 3B R 354 0.281 97 -4.0
Matt Carpenter DH L 147 0.320 229 -0.4
Andrew Benintendi* LF L 424 0.349 120 -1.1
Jose Trevino C R 221 0.278 115 0.7
Isiah Kiner-Falefa SS R 361 0.316 84 1
Aaron Hicks CF S 339 0.273 94 1.5
Gleyber Torres INF R 378 0.281 114 -2.0
*Benintendi’s numbers are from his full season, primarily with the Kansas City Royals

The 2022 Yankees have been lifted by a definite All-Star/maybe MVP-quality season from Aaron Judge, seemingly determined to drive his value as high as humanly possible in his final year before free agency. Judge has always been a three-true-outcomes kind of player but this year he’s continued an improved approach from last season where he shaved a solid 5% off his K-rate–think his 2017 52-home run season, but with better plate discipline. Scary stuff. After being traded at the deadline last year, Anthony Rizzo has settled into pinstripes quite nicely, finding he doesn’t need Yankee Stadium’s short porch to bop homers like he was still in the friendly confines of Wrigley Stadium; his .276 ISO is a career-high. Giancarlo Stanton rounds out the trio of Yankees power hitters, with 24 homers of his own, but he’s never been what one would call a “pure” hitter. It’s okay, though, because that role is filled for the Yankees by DJ LeMahieu, who’s actually been the Yankees’ third-most valuable regular by wRC+ thanks to his propensity to get the bat on the ball while walking more than he strikes out. The Yankees lineup gets a little stars-and-scrubs-y outside of this top crew, but a new hero seems to emerge every night, from the surprising performance of veteran Matt Carpenter (which feels like a post-season story in the making) to a surprising resurgence from an oft-injured (and much-maligned in the past by Yankees fans) Aaron Hicks to an All-Star performance from catcher Jose Trevino. And while Brian Cashman and Co. have gotten flack from the fans in the past for not being active enough at the trade deadline–there’s definitely a fair amount of jealousy over the Castillo acquisition–the Yankees did act proactively to replace a struggling Joey Gallo with Andrew Benintendi, who should be an upgrade provided the team doesn’t have to travel to Toronto for any important games.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

RHP Domingo Germán

98 1/3 23.9% 6.6% 13.8% 42.2% 4.58 4.31
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 28.8% 93.4 2482 92 106 103
Sinker 14.8% 93.7 2382 118 130 99
Changeup 22.5% 86.5 2294 102 104 85
Curveball 33.9% 81.1 2614 79 132 116

In September 2019, Domingo Germán was suspended for 81 games after violating the league’s domestic violence policy, and because he was suspended so late in the season, he wound up missing the entire 2020 season after it was shortened to just 60 games. He returned to the Yankees rotation last year but was bounced to the bullpen by July and optioned to the minors after the trade deadline. A spring shoulder injury forced him to miss the majority of this season; he was only recently called up from the minors a couple of weeks ago. He generates good whiff rates on all four of his pitches but he’s prone to allow loud contact off all of them too. That’s led to some pretty extreme home run rates despite a strikeout rate well above average for his career.

RHP Jameson Taillon

109 20.4% 3.8% 10.9% 40.1% 3.72 3.68
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 34.1% 94.1 2387 124 119 107
Sinker 10.9% 94.2 2301 106 70 137
Cutter 13.8% 90.7 2529 113 97 147
Changeup 9.4% 87.6 1845 82 66 102
Curveball 14.0% 81.1 2727 118 86 114
Slider 17.8% 86.1 2557 133 71 77

The survivor of two successful Tommy John surgeries, Jameson Taillon has found a way to adapt through a pretty lengthy injury history that also includes a victory against testicular cancer. He’s never really put together gaudy strikeout rates in the majors — his 23.2% K% last year was a career high — but he’s transformed himself into an elite contact manager this year. He’s cut back on the usage of his four-seamer in favor of a pitch mix that features six different looks thrown at least 10% of the time. He can command all six of those pitches and has the third lowest walk rate among all qualified starters this year.

RHP Gerrit Cole

125 1/3 32.5% 6.4% 15.3% 43.8% 3.30 3.19
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 49.8% 97.8 2449 189 149 113
Cutter 9.6% 92.1 2482 103 124 87
Changeup 9.3% 89.8 1583 79 105 111
Curveball 9.0% 82.8 2818 141 83 112
Slider 22.3% 88.5 2586 135 120 94

When Gerrit Cole joined the Astros back in 2018, he became the model for modern pitching development. His rising four-seam fastball and nasty slider became the envy of every pitching coach across baseball. He’s continued his dominance since joining the Yankees in 2020, though he’s been burned by the tiny bandbox in New York, pushing his ERA and FIP above three over the last three years. His strikeout rate is also the lowest it’s been since he was a Pirate; it’s obviously still elite at 32.5%. Cole is still clearly one of the best pitchers in the American League, but there are cracks forming as he’s aged and left Houston’s development factory.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 70-40 0.636 -- W-W-W-L-L
Mariners 59-51 0.536 11.0 W-L-W-L-W
Rangers 48-60 0.444 21.0 L-W-L-W-L
Angels 46-63 0.422 23.5 L-W-L-W-L
Athletics 41-68 0.376 28.5 L-W-W-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Blue Jays 60-48 0.556 +2.0 6-4
Rays 58-50 0.537 -- 5-5
Mariners 59-51 0.536 -- 5-5
Orioles 56-52 0.519 2.0 7-3
Guardians 56-52 0.519 2.0 6-4
White Sox 55-53 0.509 3.0 6-4
Red Sox 54-56 0.491 5.0 4-6

Things remain mostly unchanged in the AL West: the Astros, yawning chasm, the Mariners, a slightly smaller although still sizable chasm, and the Rangers, who have fallen to nine games under .500 after flirting with that mark for the better part of June. Then there are the Angels [pause for schadenfreude-y laughter], then a slightly larger chasm, then the A’s, currently trailing only the Nationals for the title of “worst team in baseball.”

Despite getting swept and then almost-swept by the Astros–who again, it cannot be stated enough, the Mariners no longer have to face during the regular season–the Mariners remain comfortably in wild card position, although maybe not quite as comfortably as Toronto has been on quite a run lately, going 8-2 over their last 10 games. That could change this next week as they head out on a road trip that will take them to Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and finally to a surprisingly good Baltimore team, all without their home field capital-A advantage. It’s too bad the Tampa Bay-Toronto series is just a two-gamer, as the Mariners are sandwiched between those two teams in the WC race. Watch out for Cleveland, though, nipping closely at Tampa Bay’s heels Back in the AL West, although they have a four-game series with Houston coming up after a soft beginning to their week against the lowly D-Backs.