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Series Preview: Mariners (30-31) at Angels (34-30)

The Mariners head to Los Angeles Anaheim to face the Angels this weekend.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners stay in SoCal for the last series of their road trip, taking on the Angels for the first time since early April. That earlier meeting featured a game in which AJ Pollock and Teoscar Hernandez both hit two home runs, a game where the Mariners made Shohei Ohtani look mortal but he got the win anyways, and a loss so depressing the recap journeyed from Mondays to Sisyphus to Groundhog Day to Sartre. This weekend, it’s Christmas at Angel Stadium, you know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho and mistletoe, etc., etc. Perfectly normal. On the field, this series might see the return of Penn Murfee from the Injured List, joining Dylan Moore and Andrés Muñoz, who returned in the last series. Finally, watch for Bryan Woo’s second major league start on Saturday; he looks to bounce back from a very rough debut last weekend.

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Friday, June 9 | 6:38 pm
RHP Luis Castillo RHP Shohei Ohtani
47% 53%
Game 2 Saturday, June 10 | 7:07 pm
RHP Bryan Woo LHP Patrick Sandoval
47% 53%
Game 3 Sunday, June 11 | 1:07 pm
RHP Bryce Miller RHP Griffin Canning
50% 50%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 110 (4th in AL) 96 (10th in AL) Angels
Fielding (OAA) -3 (11th) 10 (1st) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 103 (7th) 86 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 91 (6th) 84 (2nd) Mariners

For a reminder of the Angels’ offseason approach and the stakes for the team this year, see the preview for the April M’s/Angels faceoff. The team went 15-13 in both April and May, and begin June with whiplash, first losing three of four to the Astros and then sweeping the Cubs. The team sits in third place in the AL West, four games above .500 and seven and a half games behind the Rangers.This isn’t the finally-clicking two-superstar success Los Angeles always seems to be waiting for, but it’s good enough to turn down the volume on Ohtani trade talks for now. When last Seattle faced the Angels, rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe was getting some national attention due to an offensively strong debut, with a 140 wRC+ after 16 games. However, O’Hoppe tore a labrum in his left shoulder on April 21st, and will be on the IL until at least September.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Taylor Ward LF R 246 22.0% 7.7% 0.128 88
Shohei Ohtani DH/P L 276 22.1% 10.1% 0.270 143
Mike Trout CF R 266 27.4% 11.3% 0.231 135
Anthony Rendon 3B R 137 11.7% 14.6% 0.064 118
Matt Thaiss C L 133 27.1% 12.8% 0.124 120
Brandon Drury 2B R 231 26.8% 5.2% 0.231 113
Mickey Moniak RF L 59 32.2% 3.4% 0.339 166
Jared Walsh 1B L 52 32.7% 21.2% 0.073 68
Zach Neto SS R 180 19.4% 5.0% 0.120 92

As expected, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are the standout bats in the Angels lineup. The team is 8th in the majors in offensive fWAR (9.7) and 6th in team wRC+ (110) largely due to the contributions of these two stars. Ohtani holds one-third of a tie for seventh-most homers in baseball, and has already accumulated 1.7 fWAR (as a batter) with a 143 wRC+. Mike Trout’s 2.1 fWAR and a 136 wRC+ also distinguish him from the rest of the team’s hitters– those numbers are very good, but they’re not as high as Trout’s numbers have been consistently over the last decade. This creates Discourse, of course, and it appears that Trout is facing both the beginning of a decline with age, but also some issues with his swing mechanics that he can and will adjust. With both Max Stassi and Logan O’Hoppe injured, Matt Thaiss is behind the plate for most games, and has above average offensive numbers, plus high strikeout and walk rates. The biggest offensive disappointment has been left fielder Taylor Ward, who broke out big time last year and has regressed dramatically.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Shohei Ohtani

71 33.8% 10.2% 19.2% 48.7% 3.30 3.98
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 26.1% 97.3 120 158 141 0.280
Sinker 10.4% 94.7 104 137 88 0.319
Cutter 12.0% 90.0 104 96 95 0.423
Splitter 7.4% 89.0 139
Curveball 2.1% 75.9
Slider 41.9% 83.7 138 107 98 0.263

From a previous series preview:

We’re running out of superlatives to describe how incredible Shohei Ohtani is. During his MVP season in 2021, his batting fWAR outpaced his pitching fWAR, 5.0 to 3.0. Not only did he increase his fWAR total to 9.4 last year, he flipped the emphasis with 5.6 fWAR as a pitcher and just 3.8 fWAR as a batter. The biggest difference was a brand-new sweeping slider that was featured during that dramatic ninth inning at-bat against Mike Trout in the World Baseball Classic. Not that he needed another weapon, but he now has three secondary offerings with whiff rates over 35% in addition to his four-seam fastball that regularly reaches triple digits.

Ohtani held the Mariners to just a single run across six innings in his previous start in Seattle. After a strong start to the season, he’s struggled over his last seven outings; his ERA and FIP sit at 5.02 and 4.93, respectively, during this stretch.

LHP Patrick Sandoval

58 2/3 15.4% 9.6% 7.3% 49.7% 4.14 4.19
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 26.2% 92.2 73 63 94 0.364
Sinker 6.7% 92.1 63
Changeup 26.1% 82.9 95 119 104 0.322
Curveball 7.9% 75.9 101
Slider 33.2% 86.2 108 81 115 0.296

Patrick Sandoval possesses two fantastic pitches in his changeup and slider. Unfortunately, his arrow-straight fastball is pretty lackluster, preventing him from finding consistent success. Last year, he tried tinkering with adding a sinker back into his repertoire but that experiment seems to have been pushed off to the side this season. His changeup and slider have also lost some of their effectiveness — the depth on both of those pitches is a bit shallower this year — and the result is a strikeout rate more than eight points lower than what it was last season.

RHP Griffin Canning

48 1/3 21.1% 7.4% 15.1% 45.4% 4.47 4.78
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 31.3% 94.7 72 92 106 0.392
Changeup 22.0% 90.2 86 84 80 0.295
Curveball 13.1% 82.3 81 102 80 0.373
Slider 32.5% 88.5 128 93 133 0.247

Griffin Canning missed nearly a year and a half with a stress fracture in his lower back and a spring training groin strain prevented him from making it back to the majors until mid-April. Before those injuries derailed his career, he had shown some promise with a knack for spinning a hard slider. That breaking ball is still intact and his other secondary pitches are as effective as they were before, but he suffers from the same problem as Sandoval: his fastball simply isn’t that good. Opposing batters are crushing it when they put it in play, limiting his ability to really leverage the rest of his arsenal.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 40-21 0.656 -- W-W-W-W-L
Astros 36-27 0.571 5.0 L-W-L-L-L
Angels 34-30 0.531 7.5 L-W-W-W-W
Mariners 30-31 0.492 10.0 L-L-L-W-L
Athletics 14-50 0.219 27.5 L-L-L-W-W

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 38-24 0.613 +2.5 L-W-L-L-W
Yankees 37-27 0.578 +0.5 W-W-L-L-W
Astros 36-27 0.571 -- L-W-L-L-L
Blue Jays 36-28 0.563 0.5 W-L-W-W-W
Angels 34-30 0.531 2.5 L-W-W-W-W
Red Sox 31-32 0.492 5.0 L-L-W-L-L
Mariners 30-31 0.492 5.0 L-L-L-W-L

The Mariners have fallen to ten games below the Rangers and sit solidly in fourth place in the West. Texas is reeling from the news that ace Jacob deGrom will miss the rest of the season and receive UCL surgery. The team took two of three games from the Cardinals this week and start another three-game set in Tampa today against the still-streaking Rays. The Astros took just one of a four-game series in Toronto and will play the Cleveland Guardians this weekend. Oakland managed to win a series this week, taking two of three from the Pirates, and look to repeat the phenomenon in Milwaukee next.