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Series Preview: Mariners (29-30) at Padres (27-32)

The Mariners limp into San Diego to take on their “natural” rivals in a short, two-game series.

Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Well, that Rangers series was extremely unpleasant. Nothing like getting outscored 30-9 in a three-game sweep to make you want to take up some other, less-painful hobby. May I recommend ice cream making, vegetable gardening, or water skiing? No, you say, you want to keep watching baseball? … Okay, be my guest. In that case, turn your attention to San Diego, where the Mariners play a quick two-game series sandwiched by off days. One night game, one day game, then the 2023 Vedder Cup is half done.

At a Glance

Mariners Padres
Mariners Padres
Game 1 Tuesday, June 6 | 6:40 pm
RHP Logan Gilbert RHP Joe Musgrove
41% 59%
Game 2 Wednesday, June 7 | 1:10 pm
RHP George Kirby RHP Michael Wacha
48% 52%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 95 (12th in NL) 96 (10th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 14 (1st) 9 (1st) Padres
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 102 (8th) 86 (2nd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 89 (4th) 85 (3rd) Mariners

The Padres had a heck of a ride in 2022, playing Geno-worthy good vibes baseball, making it to the playoffs in a Wild Card berth, upsetting the Dodgers in the Division Series, and then losing in the National League Champion Series to Philadelphia. This winter, they added to an already star-studded lineup, signing shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a massive 11-year deal, extending Manny Machado another ten years, and bringing in Nelson Cruz for 2023. Add these to Fernando Tatis, Jr., and Juan Soto, and you’ve got yourself a formidable lineup. Coming out of Spring Training, the Padres were projected for over 90 wins and favorites to compete with the Dodgers for the NL West division title. The team has not been performing as advertised, however, and is four games under .500 and seven back in their division. Pitching was seen as San Diego’s weakness, particularly when it comes to rotation and bullpen depth, but it’s offense that has sputtered. The Padres are currently 16th in team FIP (4.21) but 22nd in team wRC+ (95).

It’s consistency that’s the issue, as the Padres seem to bounce between high-scoring wins and low-scoring losses. This fluctuation led them to a 10-16 record in May, and most recently a split series with the Cubs. The other significant news in Padres Nation at the moment has to do with broadcasts: Bally Sports San Diego did not pay their contractually required rights fee, so MLB has taken over production and distribution of Padres broadcasts, the first casualty in the ongoing Diamond Sports bankruptcy proceedings.

Padres Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Xander Bogaerts SS R 243 18.9% 10.3% 0.136 106
Fernando Tatis Jr. RF R 184 19.0% 6.5% 0.240 118
Juan Soto LF L 259 22.0% 21.6% 0.223 147
Manny Machado 3B R 186 21.0% 6.5% 0.135 81
Jake Cronenworth 1B L 248 23.8% 12.9% 0.154 92
Gary Sánchez C R 30 26.7% 6.7% 0.333 136
Matt Carpenter DH L 150 30.7% 13.3% 0.176 84
Ha-Seong Kim 2B R 206 23.8% 12.6% 0.143 110
Trent Grisham CF L 215 28.4% 14.9% 0.160 93

Most of the Padres’ lineup is putting up offensive numbers around league average. The two standout exceptions are Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis, Jr. Soto is the Padres best hitter, and he looks it: he currently boasts a 151 wRC+ and ten home runs. After missing the first 23 games of the season to complete his PED suspension, Tatis leads the team in home runs (11), and boasts the second-highest wRC+ in the lineup (123). As the highlight signing of San Diego’s offseason, Xander Bogaerts had an excellent April, but a lousy May. A nagging wrist injury is likely at fault, as Bogaerts has been experiencing soreness for weeks. The issue spiked last week, and he’s currently day to day; his availability for this series is unclear.

The rest of the Padres lineup has been some flavor of disappointment. Several players hover at league average, while others (like old friend Nelson Cruz and longtime Cardinal Matt Carpenter) rate significantly below. Cruz won’t face his old team this week, as he sprained a hamstring and hasn’t started running yet. Manny Machado has only a 74 wRC+ and just returned from the IL this weekend after suffering a hand fracture in mid-May. Catcher and former Mariner Austin Nola is having an awful season, so Gary Sánchez is getting more opportunities behind the plate.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

San Diego Padres v Miami Marlins Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

RHP Joe Musgrove

36 1/3 21.3% 7.5% 14.0% 39.3% 4.71 4.72
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 30.2% 93.3 76 115 128 0.291
Sinker 5.2% 92.9
Cutter 21.5% 90.3 100 42 118 0.270
Changeup 10.6% 87.3 97
Curveball 19.6% 81.4 130 112 51 0.301
Slider 12.9% 82.8 120

Joe Musgrove missed nearly a month of the season after fracturing a toe in a spring training weightlifting accident. He’s had a bit of trouble finding a groove after being activated from the IL in late April. His strikeout and walk rates have trended the wrong direction and it seems like it’s related to a dramatic change in his pitch mix. The individual effectiveness of his pitches seems unchanged but for whatever reason, he’s decided to deemphasize one of his best pitches. For nearly his entire career, he threw his excellent slider around a quarter of the time and that pitch was essentially his primary pitch for the last two years. This season, he’s throwing it just 12.9% of the time and has instead focused on his fastball and changeup.

RHP Michael Wacha

62 22.5% 7.5% 7.4% 34.3% 3.48 3.72
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 31.2% 91.9 71 80 96 0.332
Sinker 12.6% 91.5 76 62 147 0.320
Cutter 14.8% 87.1 92 71 99 0.444
Changeup 31.70% 81.8 112 123 90 0.242
Curveball 9.70% 74.5 92 82 72 0.438

After bouncing around from the Mets to the Rays to the Red Sox over the last three seasons, Michael Wacha signed a unique contract with the Padres that could be a one-, three-, or four-year deal depending on how his club or player options are handled. Perhaps motivated to earn the most out of that convoluted contract structure, Wacha has pitched better than he has in half a decade this season. His strikeout and walk rates are right in line with his career averages so the improvement stems from his ability to manage hard contact against him. He’s throwing his excellent changeup at the highest rate of his career, even surpassing the usage of his four-seam fastball. That’s helped him lower his hard hit rate allowed to just 31.4% while inducing a ton of weakly hit fly balls.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 39-20 0.661 -- L-W-W-W-W
Astros 36-24 0.600 3.5 W-W-W-L-W
Angels 31-30 0.508 9.0 W-L-L-L-W
Mariners 29-30 0.492 10.0 L-W-L-L-L
Athletics 12-49 0.197 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 37-22 0.627 +2.0 W-L-W-L-W
Astros 36-24 0.600 +0.5 W-W-W-L-W
Yankees 36-25 0.590 -- W-L-L-W-W
Blue Jays 33-28 0.541 3.0 W-W-W-W-L
Angels 31-30 0.508 5.0 W-L-L-L-W
Red Sox 30-30 0.500 5.5 W-W-L-L-L
Mariners 29-30 0.492 6.0 L-W-L-L-L

The Mariners, Angels, and Athletics have continued to fall in the standings while Texas tears ahead; the Rangers won their first of three games against the Cardinals yesterday. Over the weekend, the Astros took three of four from the Angels, and they took the first of four from Toronto. The Angels start a three-game series today against the Cubs. After being swept by the Marlins, Oakland dropped their series opener to the Pirates yesterday.