clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (85-70) vs. Athletics (56-100)

On the verge of clinching a postseason berth, the Mariners face the Athletics for the final time this season.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

This is it. The series where the Mariners can clinch their first playoff berth in 21 years. The only series in those same 21 years where the Mariners can clinch without winning a single game. The magic number is one. Get yourself to the ballpark, or the Game Thread, if you can.

After a thrilling eleventh-inning walk-off last night, and given the stakes, these games should be electric and the stadium full. This would have been the final series of the regular season had Opening Day not been delayed (which is why you see the traditional Fan Appreciation Night on the schedule). The roster should look the same as it did for the Rangers series, with Eugenio Suárez back at third as of yesterday, and Julio Rodríguez ineligible to return from the Injured List until Monday in the first game against the Tigers.

At a Glance

Athletics Mariners
Athletics Mariners
Game 1 Friday, September 30 | 6:40 pm
LHP Ken Waldichuk RHP Logan Gilbert
29% 71%
Game 2 Saturday, October 1 | 1:10 pm
LHP JP Sears RHP Luis Castillo
22% 78%
Game 3 Sunday, October 2 | 1:10 pm
RHP James Kaprielian LHP Robbie Ray
25% 75%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Overview Athletics Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 84 (14th in AL) 106 (5th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -5 (12th) 1 (9th) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 122 (15th) 104 (8th) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 109 (14th) 96 (7th) Mariners

After going 86-76 in 2021, the Athletics lost their 100th game of 2022 last night. With nothing left to play for, Oakland has called up several young players who will benefit from these weeks of big-league experience. Despite their general incompetence, the A’s took two of three against the Mariners in Oakland last week in a series where the M’s slump bloomed and Julio left a game mid-inning due to back pain. After that series, the A’s lost two of three to the Mets and then the Angels swept them in three (yesterday they were no-hit through seven by Shohei Ohtani).

Athletics Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Tony Kemp LF L 540 0.257 90 3.3
Vimael Machín 3B L 245 0.276 83 -0.8
Sean Murphy C R 596 0.287 122 -2.4
Seth Brown CF L 529 0.272 117 3.0
Jordan Diaz 2B R 31 0.385 122 0.0
Conner Capel RF L 46 0.324 174 0.0
Dermis Garcia 1B R 108 0.375 115 0.0
Shea Langeliers DH R 131 0.324 75 0.1
Nick Allen SS R 303 0.263 63 0.1

Oakland has two hitters with 150 plate appearances who rank above league average by wRC+. One of those is catcher Sean Murphy, whose 4.8 fWAR is more than double the next highest Oakland position player’s fWAR. The Athletics drafted Murphy in the third round in 2016, and the 28-year-old righty is the team’s everyday catcher. The second above-average hitter is right fielder Seth Brown (picked by the A’s in the nineteenth round of the 2015 draft), who hits for the most power in Oakland’s lineup. Last week I wrote that outfielder Ramón Laureano was on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain; he has since received a hip injection and is done for the season. In his place, the A’s called up their number eight prospect Jordan Díaz. Díaz slashed .326/.366/.515 in Triple-A this season and has been starting regularly at second for the A’s this week. In some good news for those who have been following the Mariners all season, the Athletics designated noted Ty France injurer Sheldon Neuse for assignment on Saturday; he cleared waivers but will not be able to work his evil magic in Seattle this weekend.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: New York Mets at Oakland Athletics Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

LHP Ken Waldichuk

22 2/3 20.6% 6.9% 15.6% 32.4% 7.15 5.45

Ken Waldichuk was included in the big Frankie Montas deal at the trade deadline and made his major league debut a month later on September 1. He enjoyed some considerable prospect helium after reaching Triple-A earlier this year, just three years after he was drafted. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with some ride and run. His best pitch is a slider that possesses the kind of sweeping characteristics the Yankees have selected and developed recently; it breaks horizontally a whopping 17.4 inches on average. He’s also recently added a promising changeup to his repertoire, giving him a pitch to keep right-handed batters at bay.

LHP JP Sears

64 16.8% 7.8% 9.5% 39.4% 4.22 4.41
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 57.2% 93.2 2151 76 75 110
Changeup 17.6% 82.8 1882 181 52 114
Slider 25.2% 79.3 2495 65 100 141

From a previous series preview:

Originally drafted by the Mariners in the 11th round of the 2017 draft, JP Sears was one of the prospects sent to the Yankees in the ill fated Nick Rumbelow deal. He developed through New York’s pitching pipeline and made his major league debut in pinstripes earlier this year. He was sent to Oakland in the big Frankie Montas trade and is an immediate plug-and-play starter for the A’s as they continue to rebuild their pitching depth. He possesses good command of a flat four-seam fastball that he pairs with a good slider. His changeup has standout physical characteristics too, but it’s clearly a distant third option behind his two other pitches.

Sears held the Mariners to just a single run in his last outing. He threw five innings of one-hit ball, walking three and striking out seven.

RHP James Kaprielian

128 16.4% 10.1% 9.1% 37.5% 4.43 4.77
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 49.3% 93.9 2008 84 74 92
Sinker 4.8% 94.3 1934 94 79 81
Changeup 10.0% 85.2 1355 109 75 115
Curveball 12.3% 79.3 2492 99 37 121
Slider 23.5% 85.1 2285 86 101 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 was brilliant against the Mariners in his fifth outing against them last week, throwing seven scoreless while allowing just three base runners and striking out six. It was his best start of the year.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 102-54 0.654 -- L-W-W-W-L
Mariners 84-69 0.548 16.5 W-L-L-W-W
Angels 70-86 0.449 32.0 L-W-W-W-W
Rangers 66-89 0.426 35.5 L-L-W-L-L
Athletics 56-100 0.359 46.0 W-L-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Blue Jays 87-69 0.558 +2.0 W-W-W-L-L
Mariners 84-69 0.548 +0.5 W-L-L-W-W
Rays 85-71 0.545 -- L-L-W-L-L
Orioles 80-76 0.513 5.0 L-W-L-L-L

The Wild Card teams are shaking out, but the seeds are still far too close to call. The Blue Jays are the only team to clinch an AL Wild Card berth so far, and they remain in the top spot despite dropping two of three to the Yankees this week. A three-game series against Boston awaits the Jays starting today, after which they will face the Orioles to end the season. The M’s and Rays continue to circle one another beneath Toronto, Seattle having jumped a half game up of Tampa yesterday with their victory and the Rays loss to Cleveland. The Rays have a tough weekend ahead, as they take on the AL-winningest Astros in Houston. In all likelihood the Orioles will be eliminated from contention this weekend: they face the mighty Yankees after losing three of four to Boston this week.

If the season ended today, the Mariners would play a three-game Wild Card series in Toronto and the Rays would play their three games in Cleveland. The winners of those two matches would move on to play the Astros and Yankees in the ALDS.

Here’s a handy chart to help understand how the Wild Card seeding would shake out in various scenarios.