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Series Preview: Mariners (80-62) at Angels (61-82)

The Mariners head to Anaheim for the last time this season.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

After weathering their most difficult stretch of their September schedule with a 4-4 record against the White Sox, Braves, and Padres, the Mariners head out on their last road trip of the season. With ten straight games in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Kansas City, the Mariners’ path to a postseason berth looks to be nearly locked up and these final 20 games against teams with records below .500 will determine which seed they’ll enter October with.

This weekend, the Mariners return to the scene of the crime in Anaheim to face the Angels in their final matchup of the season. After Mike Trout personally did his best to ruin my birthday back in June in that double header, I am desperately hoping for Julio to eat his lunch. Maybe give him a swirly or something.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Friday, September 16 | 6:38 pm
LHP Robbie Ray RHP Michael Lorenzen
56% 44%
Game 2 Saturday, September 17 | 6:07 pm
RHP George Kirby RHP Shohei Ohtani
46% 54%
Game 3 Sunday, September 18 | 1:07 pm
LHP Marco Gonzales LHP Reid Detmers
48% 52%
Game 4 Sunday, September 19 | 1:07 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert LHP José Suarez
54% 46%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 91 (13th in AL) 106 (5th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 4 (9th) 7 (6th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 95 (5th) 103 (7th) Angels
Bullpen (FIP-) 106 (13th) 96 (8th) Mariners

In case you hadn’t heard, allow me to be the bearer of good news: the Anaheim Angels will finish below .500 this year, for the seventh year in a row. Another year of wasted potential, and another year without a playoff appearance. There but for the grace of God, go I.

Much like Nickelback, I invite you to look at this photograph:

You see that red circle? Right about the spot that the Mariners begin their charge, and the Angels start their final death rattle? That was the day and the day after the last time the Mariners were in Anaheim. The events of that day don’t need recounting, because Grant Bronsdon did it perfectly, but it seems fitting, almost scripted, that that day seems to be the inflection point in the Mariners’ season. The Angels are, of course, bad. Shockingly bad for a team with multiple MVP caliber players on it. And if this is The Year for the Mariners that we all hope it is, then I’m glad that future recountings of the 2022 season will say that it was the Angels’ cowardice and awfulness that kick started the M’s to an unimaginable surge.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Mickey Moniak LF L 87 0.250 57 1.0
Mike Trout CF R 424 0.318 176 -0.7
Shohei Ohtani DH L 589 0.301 145 -0.2
Taylor Ward RF R 487 0.312 126 0.0
Luis Rengifo 2B S 425 0.302 104 2.4
Mike Ford 1B L 114 0.254 85 -0.3
Matt Duffy 3B R 191 0.312 68 -0.2
Max Stassi C R 345 0.241 65 -2.9
David Fletcher SS R 200 0.273 83 -1.1

It’s the Angels. Without knowing anyone’s name, you already know the shape of their lineup. Two phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime hitters, a couple serviceable Major-League caliber guys, and then Mckey from San Diego, who’s just happy to be here. Without Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have a combined wRC+ of 79. Trout and Ohtani, for all of their strength, can only drag it up to 91. As Mariners fans know all too well, a baseball team is made up of more than one or two great players, and backing them up with subpar talent is not a recipe for success.

Trout and Ohtani can launch solo shots all they want. It won’t do ‘em any good.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Michael Lorenzen

76 2/3 17.5% 10.4% 12.3% 51.7% 4.70 4.64
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 20.1% 94.7 2407 129 77 111
Sinker 27.3% 93.9 2246 120 122 117
Cutter 12.5% 90.4 2473 127 49 112
Changeup 19.6% 86.2 1945 98 113 77
Slider 19.6% 83.1 2439 88 103 86

It was impossible to predict what to expect from Michael Lorenzen in 2022. He had spent nearly his entire major league career as a reliever in Cincinnati but the Angels signed him during the offseason with the intention of using him as a starter for the first time since his rookie season back in 2015. After starting off the season strong, he’s really struggled to maintain his success. A trio of ugly starts towards the end of June skyrocketed his ERA and he wound up on the IL with a shoulder strain in early July. He was activated last week and pitched well in Houston, but his overall season line looks a lot worse than it did during the first half of the season.

RHP Shohei Ohtani

141 33.0% 6.2% 9.9% 38.4% 2.55 2.50
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 30.7% 97.3 2218 121 96 110
Sinker 2.4% 97.6 1997 129
Cutter 7.3% 90.5 2422 113 97 69
Splitter 12.9% 89.4 1265 77 160 83
Curveball 9.6% 78.1 2494 107 127 50
Slider 37.0% 85.4 2491 131 113 106

From a previous series preview:

How does two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani top his MVP performance from last year? He simply continues to get even better. His bat hasn’t been as productive this season but he’s been phenomenal on the mound. That improvement stems from one pitch: his slider. He’s throwing it three miles per hour harder and has increased the amount of horizontal movement on it. The result is a beast of a pitch that he can locate well and earn plenty of swinging strikes. Paired with his excellent splitter and solid curveball, it gives him three different secondary weapons in three different velocity bands, each sporting whiff rates over 40%.

Ohtani and Aaron Judge are both battling over the AL MVP as the season winds down. Ohtani’s production on the mound has outpaced his efforts at the plate, which oddly sort of works against him when compared to the kind of power numbers Judge is putting up. Like so many others around the league, he’s recently added a sinker to his pitch arsenal giving him another pitch with plus horizontal movement to pair with his slider.

LHP Reid Detmers

113 23.0% 9.1% 10.7% 38.7% 3.82 4.02
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 43.2% 93.1 2100 98 107 106
Changeup 11.8% 84.2 1435 104 83 89
Curveball 18.5% 73.1 2476 114 85 100
Slider 24.5% 85.6 2169 103 74 102

In his first full season in the big leagues, Reid Detmers has enjoyed some extreme highs and frustrating lows. He threw a no-hitter in May and an immaculate inning in July. He also struggled enough to get optioned to Triple-A at the end of June and hasn’t found much consistency; a solid six-game stretch after getting recalled (1.50 ERA, 2.47 FIP) has been followed by a string of pedestrian starts in his last four turns through the rotation (5.68 ERA, 2.90 FIP). The adjustment that spurred his mid-summer improvement was a tweak to his slider; he added five ticks of velocity to the pitch and has started leaning on it as his primary breaking ball, spurning his curveball that had drawn plenty of praise as a prospect.

LHP José Suarez

91 1/3 22.3% 7.9% 11.7% 39.0% 3.84 4.03
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 33.3% 92.7 2211 89 101 81
Sinker 9.1% 91.6 2043 83 65 70
Changeup 25.3% 82.4 1553 144 108 63
Curveball 14.0% 77.9 2697 95 56 110
Slider 18.2% 80.8 2575 79 86 78

José Suarez spent the first half of the season bouncing between the starting rotation and the bullpen and riding the shuttle up-and-down to Triple-A. With injuries piling up and Noah Syndergaard traded away at the deadline, Suarez has moved into the rotation on a full-time basis in the second half of the season and has flourished. In eight starts, he’s posted a solid 2.14 ERA and a 2.85 FIP with an excellent 4.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His four-seam fastball has greatly improved over these past two months, giving his entire arsenal a boost.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 94-50 0.653 -- W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 80-62 0.563 13.0 L-W-W-L-W
Rangers 62-81 0.434 31.5 W-W-L-W-L
Angels 61-82 0.427 32.5 W-L-L-L-L
Athletics 52-92 0.361 42.0 L-W-L-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Mariners 80-62 0.563 +0.5 L-W-W-L-W
Blue Jays 81-63 0.563 +0.5 W-L-W-W-L
Rays 80-63 0.559 -- L-L-W-W-L
Orioles 75-67 0.528 4.5 W-L-L-W-W
White Sox 74-70 0.514 6.5 W-L-W-L-W
Twins 72-70 0.507 7.5 L-L-W-W-W

The Blue Jays wound up winning three of their five games against the Rays this week, which is probably the best outcome for the Mariners since it kept both teams from pulling ahead in the Wild Card standings. After a rough go last week, the Orioles bounced back with a pair of wins against the Nationals this week; they’ll head to Toronto this weekend looking to make one last push up the standings. The Rays return home to host the Rangers for three games, their last series against a team with a record below .500 until the final week of the season.