clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview: Mariners (36-37) at Orioles (45-28)

The Mariners head to Baltimore to face the young Orioles.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Mayo Clinic recommends a multi-pronged approach for treating whiplash, including rest, exercises to restore range of motion, and use of a foam collar to ensure stability. After two mind-numbing losses to the Yankees followed by a chaos-fueled 10-2 win, don’t be surprised if you see the Mariners sporting these as they roll into Camden Yards today. The Mariners face Baltimore for the first of two three-game series in 2023; the Orioles will come to T-Mobile Park August 11th-13th for Félix Hernández Mariners Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. The celebration will be fit for a King (get your tickets here if you’d like to be there for the party).

At a Glance

Mariners Orioles
Mariners Orioles
Game 1 Friday, June 23 | 4:05 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert RHP Kyle Gibson
50% 50%
Game 2 Saturday, June 24 | 1:05 pm
RHP Bryce Miller RHP Dean Kremer
49% 51%
Game 3 Sunday, June 25 | 10:35 am
RHP George Kirby RHP Kyle Bradish
52% 48%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Overview Orioles Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 107 (6th in AL) 97 (9th in AL) Orioles
Fielding (OAA) -12 (13th) 11 (1st) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 108 (13th) 90 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 82 (1st) 85 (2nd) Orioles

Prior to Opening Day, Baltimore was projected to be a below-.500 club in 2023, with inferior results to the 2022 team (who won 83 games and missed the postseason). So far, the team is significantly outperforming expectations, with a .616 record and a five-game lead in the AL Wild Card race as June comes to a close. One explanation for the difference between expectations and reality is that the Orioles bet on their young players, and it’s paid off. Rather than make major offensive off-season signings, Baltimore brought on free agents Kyle Gibson (their Opening Day starting pitcher) and Mariners 2022 disappointment Adam Frazier. They counted on rookie infielder Gunnar Henderson (an all-MLB top prospect who debuted in August 2022), sophomore catcher Adley Rutschman (who racked up 5.3 fWAR in 2022 and came in second in AL Rookie of the Year voting), and starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez (who debuted early this season) to carry the team. Rodriguez struggled over six starts in April/May and is back down in Triple-A working things out, but otherwise the young players are leading the Orioles to success. Another key to the team’s success is closer Félix Bautista; with his 1.60 FIP and 20 saves in 34.2 innings, Bautista is one of the top relievers in the game.

The Orioles had a rough weekend against the Cubs last weekend, but then split a two-game set in Tampa this week– that’s a victory considering the Rays’ ridiculous 32-9 home record! The team will be well-rested coming into their series against the M’s, having had two off days this week.

Orioles Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Gunnar Henderson 3B L 239 30.1% 13.0% 0.222 124
Adley Rutschman C S 319 13.8% 15.4% 0.153 127
Anthony Santander RF S 296 23.6% 8.8% 0.208 119
Ryan O'Hearn 1B L 98 24.5% 6.1% 0.275 173
Austin Hays LF R 268 23.5% 6.0% 0.198 143
Aaron Hicks CF S 142 22.5% 12.0% 0.152 109
Adam Frazier 2B L 257 12.1% 7.8% 0.159 85
Ramón Urías DH R 183 27.9% 6.0% 0.127 105
Jorge Mateo SS R 224 23.2% 4.9% 0.132 69

The Orioles have a strong lineup with a few offensive holes. Those come at second base and shortstop, where Adam Frazier and Jorge Mateo are batting below league average. Watch out for Mateo if he gets on base, though; he leads Baltimore with 20 stolen bases on the year. Two of Baltimore’s starters are on the ten-day Injured List: center fielder Cedric Mullins II and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, both of whom began rehab assignments Wednesday and could return to the team any day. Mullins has a 133 wRC+ and 1.8 fWAR on the year, but replacement Aaron Hicks is playing well in his absence. Hopes were not high for Hicks’ production, but the veteran has put up a 178 wRC+in a small sample size of 18 games. Mountcastle, on the other hand, was not having a good season before his injury, with negative fWAR on the year. Ryan O’Hearn is filling in for him and also has a sky-high 173 wRC+ in 31 games.

The Orioles’ offensive leaders this year are their two young stars and a more-tenured outfielder having a breakout season. Adley Rutschman is having no sophomore slump, with ten home runs, a 15% walk rate, and a 127 wRC+. Rookie Gunnar Henderson is having as good a start to the season, with eleven homers and a wRC+ of 124. The top hitter, though, is left fielder Austin Hays, who now leads the team with 2fWAR and has a 143 wRC+ across a sizable sample. See our sibling site’s breakdown of what’s going right for Hays this year and why he’s not getting the attention he deserves for it.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Baltimore Orioles v Chicago Cubs Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

RHP Kyle Gibson

89 17.7% 7.3% 7.6% 44.1% 3.94 3.82
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 14.1% 92.2 81 65 98 0.392
Sinker 24.8% 91.8 92 60 65 0.378
Cutter 17.4% 89.8 89 64 110 0.358
Changeup 18.3% 85.2 82 83 82 0.284
Curveball 8.3% 79.3 89 133 127 0.230
Sweeper 17.1% 81.3 107 132 85 0.286

Gibson is the perfect kind of veteran starter for Baltimore. Able to eat innings while their young pitching prospects continued to develop, he also had enough recent success that you could squint and see a productive season if everything went right for the Orioles. And that’s exactly what’s happened this year. Gibson has continued the success that led to his All-Star season in 2021, though the exact shape of his peripherals are a little different. His strikeout rate has fallen by nearly three points but those losses have been offset by a home run rate that’s also fallen thanks to the enormous confines of his new home stadium.

RHP Dean Kremer

81 20.7% 6.1% 13.7% 35.5% 4.56 4.63
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 37.7% 94.8 103 134 47 0.370
Sinker 15.2% 92.1 87 47 82 0.370
Cutter 19.3% 88.8 100 92 68 0.427
Changeup 13.6% 85.4 91 74 70 0.351
Curveball 6.6% 77.7 98
Sweeper 7.7% 82.5 114 73 85 0.278

Dean Kremer took a big step forward last year after a couple of brief stints in the majors over the previous two seasons. The biggest contributor to his success was a walk rate that fell by nearly four points even though he wasn’t throwing in the zone any more often than before. He’s also enjoyed an uptick in fastball velocity over the last two seasons, turning it into a real weapon for him. His secondary offerings are a mixed bag with a cutter and sinker comprising the bulk of his pitch mix when he’s not throwing his four-seamer. He has introduced a sweeper into his repertoire this year, potentially giving him a breaking ball to pair with all of his hard pitches.

RHP Kyle Bradish

65 22.0% 6.6% 9.4% 43.5% 3.88 3.65
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 27.5% 94.2 95 79 83 0.465
Sinker 17.3% 94.7 85 53 67 0.388
Changeup 7.4% 90.3 95
Curveball 18.0% 84.5 133 95 66 0.245
Slider 29.7% 87.8 162 110 77 0.221

Kyle Bradish made his major league debut last season to mixed results. A fantastic slider that produced plenty of swings and misses was undermined by a too-hittable fastball. Opposing batters slugged over .500 off his heater and he wasn’t generating an above average whiff rate to offset all that hard contact. This year, he’s deemphasized his four-seamer in favor of his sinker. That’s helped him manage his contact a bit more, but it hasn’t helped his ability to strike batters out. Right now, he has one swing-and-miss pitch and a handful of other pitches that he’s using to try and get to his slider once he’s ahead.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 46-28 0.622 -- W-W-W-L-W
Astros 41-34 0.547 5.5 L-L-L-W-W
Angels 41-35 0.539 6.0 W-L-W-L-L
Mariners 36-37 0.493 9.5 L-W-L-L-W
Athletics 19-58 0.247 28.5 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 45-28 0.616 +5.0 L-L-W-W-L
Astros 41-34 0.547 -- L-L-L-W-W
Yankees 41-34 0.547 -- L-L-W-W-L
Angels 41-35 0.539 0.5 W-L-W-L-L
Blue Jays 41-35 0.539 0.5 L-L-L-W-W
Red Sox 39-37 0.513 2.5 W-W-W-L-L

The top three teams in the AL West have held steady this week, while the Mariners and Athletics gently continue to fall. The A’s were swept by the Guardians this week and play three games in Toronto starting today. The Angels, too, were swept this week, in their case by their cross-town rival Dodgers, and head northeast to take on the Rockies this weekend. The Astros and Rangers both won two of three this week, against the Mets and White Sox, respectively. Houston plays the Dodgers and Texas the Yankees this weekend, both for three game sets.