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Series Preview: Mariners (35-35) at Yankees (39-33)

The Mariners head to New York to face a weakened Yankees ballclub.

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bolstered by consecutive series wins, the Mariners are back to .500 and back on the road. They play three against the Yankees in New York and then three against the Orioles in Baltimore before returning home again next Monday. The last time the Yankees and Mariners played was just three weeks ago, when the Mariners had also just won two series and needed to break through against a stronger opponent. In that series, the Yankees took two of three, with the Mariners lone win coming on a George Kirby gem of a start. He’ll try to repeat that today, against his childhood team in his home state.

At a Glance

Mariners Yankees
Mariners Yankees
Game 1 Tuesday, June 20 | 4:05 pm
RHP George Kirby RHP Gerrit Cole
46% 54%
Game 2 Wednesday, June 21 | 4:05 pm
RHP Luis Castillo RHP Randy Vásquez
57% 43%
Game 3 Thursday, June 22 | 4:05 pm
RHP Bryan Woo RHP Domingo Germán
51% 49%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Yankees Mariners Edge
Overview Yankees Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 96 (10th in AL) 98 (9th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 2 (8th) 11 (1st) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 106 (10th) 88 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 88 (4th) 83 (2nd) Mariners

The 2023 Yankees are a very similar team to the one that won the AL East in 2022 before being swept out of the ALCS by the Astros. Nearly all of the big names remain the same, headlined by the mighty Aaron Judge. The competition in their division, however, has been cement mixed and spat back out, with the Rays by far the winningest team in the American League so far. Injuries, too, continue to plague New York. From starters Frankie Montas and Carlos Rodón (who begins a rehab assignment this week) to Giancarlo Stanton’s hamstring strain last month and Aaron Judge’s multiple IL stints, the Yankees haven’t yet had a chance to field the team they promised.

Judge sprained a toe at the start of June and is unlikely to return before July. The Yankees have lost all four series they’ve played since Judge’s injury, most recently being swept by the Red Sox, who sit in last place in their division. In their two weeks without Judge, the Yankees rank last in MLB in several offensive categories. On the season they rank 21st in team wRC+ (96); since June 4th they rank 30th (64).

Yankees Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Jake Bauers LF L 117 30.8% 11.1% 0.235 115
Giancarlo Stanton DH R 101 25.7% 5.9% 0.237 91
Gleyber Torres 2B R 296 12.5% 10.1% 0.183 114
Anthony Rizzo 1B L 283 22.6% 7.4% 0.167 116
DJ LeMahieu 3B R 244 26.6% 7.0% 0.156 87
Isiah Kiner-Falefa CF R 159 17.6% 4.4% 0.107 69
Billy McKinney RF L 36 16.7% 2.8% 0.229 123
Jose Trevino C R 131 14.5% 5.3% 0.097 58
Anthony Volpe SS R 269 30.9% 8.9% 0.160 70

Without Judge, the most productive hitter in the Yankees lineup is Anthony Rizzo, whose first two months of the season were excellent (148 wRC+ as of late May). However, Rizzo has floundered since returning from a neck injury, posting a -13 wRC+ in June and taking his season stat down to 116. The whole lineup, to be fair, has floundered in June, with Jake Bauers, Billy McKinney, and Josh Donaldson the only starters offensively above average this month. Giancarlo Stanton gets increased playing time and increased attention with Judge out; he’ll need to use this opportunity to demonstrate that he can contribute in some way reminiscent of his seasons with the Marlins and first with the New York. Injuries have limited him the past three years, but he’s not currently showing much value even when he does play regularly. Rookie shortstop and top MLB prospect Anthony Volpe has struggled all season but hasn’t been sent down to Triple-A yet; our sibling site breaks down some areas for potential tweaks when it comes to Volpe’s approach to sliders. The Yankees will be looking for offensive reinforcement this week from outfielder Harrison Bader, who returns from the IL after missing several weeks with a hamstring strain he sustained at T-Mobile Park last month.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Gerrit Cole

91 2/3 26.4% 7.8% 9.5% 37.7% 2.75 3.49
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 56.3% 96.8 127 115 99 0.320
Changeup 8.2% 88.9 73 118 136 0.328
Curveball 13.1% 83.3 114 67 107 0.326
Slider 21.4% 89.3 143 78 94 0.277

Ever since unlocking his riding four-seam fastball as his primary pitch in Houston and making the leap to elite status, Gerrit Cole has suffered from a home run problem. That’s to be expected with such a high fly ball rate and a heater that makes up nearly 60% of his pitch mix. And his issues with the long ball have only been exacerbated by his new home park in New York. This year, he’s managed to get his dinger problem under control but his strikeout rate has taken a hit in the process. His outstanding slider isn’t generating as many swings and misses which seems like the root cause of that step back. Still, even without those strikeouts, his improved results on balls in play has helped him lower his ERA back under three for the first time since 2020 while maintaining his FIP right around where it’s been since joining the Yankees.

RHP Randy Vásquez

50 24.8% 12.2% 17.9% 45.3% 5.94 5.19
Triple-A stats

The Yankees haven’t announced a starter for the game on Wednesday after relying on a four-man rotation for most of June; Randy Vásquez or Jhony Brito are the most likely candidates to get the callup. Vásquez was ranked 11th on FanGraphs’s Yankees prospect list after a pretty significant breakout in 2021 fueled by a velocity jump. He made his major league debut back in late May and made two pretty good starts for New York before getting sent back to Triple-A. He has a deep pitch mix with a sweeping slurve that he can manipulate to get more sweep or depth depending on the circumstance as well as a fastball that sits in between a four-seamer and sinker.

RHP Domingo Germán

69 23.0% 8.2% 14.7% 39.2% 4.30 4.64
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 26.6% 92.4 87 85 86 0.472
Sinker 12.2% 92.4 79 86 113 0.345
Changeup 20.6% 85.9 92 92 118 0.326
Curveball 40.6% 82.9 103 114 114 0.272

From a previous series preview:

Once a promising young starter for the Yankees, Domingo Germán has had a troubled six-year career in the Bronx. He was suspended in 2019 for a domestic violence incident and missed the entire 2020 season as a result. A recurring shoulder injury cut into his 2021 and ‘22 seasons and he was suspended for violating the league’s sticky substance policy earlier this month. On the mound, he’s run some very high strikeout rates thanks to a fantastic curveball that has a whiff rate around 40%. Unfortunately, his fastball gets hit really hard, leading to a significant home run problem throughout his career.

The Mariners scored four runs off Germán in his start against them in Seattle, collecting seven hits and three walks in 6.1 innings.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 45-27 0.625 -- L-L-W-W-W
Angels 41-33 0.554 5.0 L-W-W-L-W
Astros 39-34 0.534 6.5 L-L-L-L-L
Mariners 35-35 0.500 9.0 W-L-W-L-W
Athletics 19-55 0.257 27.0 L-L-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 44-27 0.620 +5.5 L-W-L-L-W
Angels 41-33 0.554 +1.0 L-W-W-L-W
Yankees 39-33 0.542 -- W-L-L-L-L
Astros 39-34 0.534 0.5 L-L-L-L-L
Blue Jays 39-35 0.527 1.0 L-W-L-L-L
Red Sox 38-35 0.521 1.5 W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 35-35 0.500 3.0 W-L-W-L-W

The Rangers won two of three against Toronto last weekend, and already won the first game of a series against the White Sox yesterday. After winning their series against the Royals, the Angels take on their cross-town rivals the Dodgers this week. The Astros have lost five games in a row, including the weekend’s sweep at the hands of the Reds (who’ve won nine in a row and are celebrating the triumphant return of Joey Votto) and Monday’s opening game versus the Mets. The Athletics have also lost five in a row, most recently at the hands of the Phillies, and hope for different results this week in Cleveland.