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Series Preview: Mariners (45-44) vs. Tigers (39-50)

The Mariners get the second half of the season started with a three-game series against the Tigers.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

After cruising into the All-Star break with three straight series wins, the Mariners hope to carry over that momentum into the second half of the season. They’ll start with a long 10-game homestand against the Tigers, Twins, and Blue Jays. That’s a pretty forgiving set of opponents and it gives the M’s an opportunity to continue climbing up the standings. They’re four games out of a postseason berth and will need to leapfrog three teams to get there. FanGraphs gives them a 22.3% chance of making the playoffs while Baseball Prospectus is a little more pessimistic at 18.8%. With two and a half weeks until the trade deadline, this homestand will go a long way towards determining whether or not the Mariners view themselves as true contenders down the stretch run.

At a Glance

Tigers Mariners
Tigers Mariners
Game 1 Friday, July 14 | 7:10 pm
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez RHP Luis Castillo
37% 63%
Game 2 Saturday, July 15 | 6:40 pm
RHP Michael Lorenzen RHP George Kirby
38% 62%
Game 3 Sunday, July 16 | 1:10 pm
RHP Reese Olson RHP Logan Gilbert
40% 60%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Tigers Mariners Edge
Overview Tigers Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 87 (14th in AL) 101 (8th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) 3 (8th) 10 (3rd) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 106 (11th) 90 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 97 (9th) 89 (3rd) Mariners

The Mariners played the Tigers back in mid-May and took two of three from them in Detroit. Since then, they’ve gone 21-29, battling over third place in the AL Central with the equally disappointing White Sox. Despite their record, there are some signs of progress in Detroit. Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson have continued to hit relatively well and the former was just activated off the IL prior to the All-Star break. They also got Eduardo Rodriguez and Tarik Skubal back from their respective injuries to bolster their starting rotation. If you squint enough, you could see how the Tigers could be a nuisance for other American League teams this summer as they try and play spoiler while continuing to develop their youngsters.

Tigers Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Zach McKinstry 3B L 281 19.6% 10.0% 0.121 97
Riley Greene CF L 233 28.3% 9.9% 0.157 136
Spencer Torkelson 1B R 376 24.2% 9.8% 0.174 98
Kerry Carpenter DH L 167 25.1% 6.6% 0.222 121
Matt Vierling RF R 259 18.5% 8.1% 0.140 116
Javier Báez SS R 355 22.8% 3.7% 0.105 62
Akil Baddoo LF L 176 21.6% 13.6% 0.106 89
Andy Ibáñez 2B R 200 18.5% 4.0% 0.183 88
Jake Rogers C R 183 35.5% 11.5% 0.252 107

While Greene’s and Torkelson’s development are linchpins to the Tigers future, there are a number of role players who are enjoying some quiet success this year. Matt Vierling came over during the offseason in the Gregory Soto trade and he’s done well as a super-utility man in his first year in Detroit. He’s played five different positions capably while producing a 116 wRC+ at the plate. Another utility guy who has been producing recently is Andy Ibáñez. Since the beginning of June, he’s produced a 131 wRC+ while playing five different positions. Vierling has a better shot of being a key member of the next competitive team in Detroit since he’s three years younger than Ibáñez, but they’re both making up for some pretty disappointing offensive performances elsewhere on the roster right now.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

93rd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

71 2/3 26.3% 5.7% 11.8% 42.7% 2.64 3.34
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 41.9% 92.2 73 105 87 0.301
Sinker 10.2% 92.3 87 75 137 0.228
Cutter 22.9% 88.6 90 92 105 0.311
Changeup 19.0% 86.2 96 107 108 0.328
Slider 6.1% 84.9 107

Eduardo Rodriguez enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, compiling a 2.13 ERA and a 3.16 FIP through his first 11 starts of the year. Unfortunately, a finger injury derailed his season and he missed all of June. His success this year is a return to form after a rough introduction to Detroit after signing a big five-year deal in 2022. The biggest difference for him is much better command of his entire repertoire; he’s been able to dot his cutter on the edges of the strike zone to both left- and right-handed batters while burying his changeup effectively against righties. He returned from the IL right before the All-Star break but struggled in a start against the A’s, allowing five runs in four innings pitched.

RHP Michael Lorenzen

87 18.9% 5.7% 12.0% 42.2% 4.03 4.17
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 33.6% 94.5 99 86 59 0.302
Sinker 12.6% 93.8 82 30 97 0.315
Changeup 20.8% 85.1 91 107 80 0.313
Slider 23.4% 85.1 118 74 67 0.346
Sweeper 7.2% 83.1 90 62 117 0.393

This year’s most unlikely All-Star was Michael Lorenzen. Both Rodriguez and Greene had strong arguments to be selected if they hadn’t been injured for all of June and so Lorenzen was picked thanks to his health. In actuality, he’s been a perfectly acceptable mid-rotation starter for Detroit, posting a 4.03 ERA backed by a 4.17 FIP. After returning to the rotation last year with the Angels, he’s improved his walk rate considerably this season while keeping his strikeout rate relatively stable.

RHP Reese Olson

33 1/3 26.1% 6.0% 10.8% 42.9% 4.05 3.46
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 32.7% 95.0 94 51 99 0.338
Sinker 16.4% 95.1 78 54 136 0.390
Changeup 13.3% 87.9 94
Curveball 4.2% 78.7
Slider 33.4% 84.8 143 116 94 0.235

With injuries and ineffectiveness decimating the Tigers stable of young starters, it’s surprising to see Reese Olson enjoying the most success out of all of them. He was ranked 12th in their organization by FanGraphs with some real concerns about his ability to command his fastball dragging down his outlook. He’s managed to address that concern in the majors, posting a 6.0% walk rate in the big leagues after compiling a 10.2% career walk rate in the minors. With his four-seamer now filling up the strike zone, he’s been able to rely on two outstanding secondary pitches to attack batters once ahead in the count. His best pitch is his slider that possesses excellent two-plane movement along with a diving changeup that has earned a swing and a miss almost half the time batters offer at it.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 52-39 0.571 -- L-L-W-L-L
Astros 50-41 0.549 2.0 W-L-L-W-L
Mariners 45-44 0.506 6.0 L-W-W-L-W
Angels 45-46 0.495 7.0 L-L-L-L-L
Athletics 25-67 0.272 27.5 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
Orioles 54-35 0.607 +5.0 W-W-W-W-W
Astros 50-41 0.549 -- W-L-L-W-L
Blue Jays 50-41 0.549 -- W-W-W-L-W
Yankees 49-42 0.538 1.0 L-L-L-W-L
Red Sox 48-43 0.527 2.0 W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 45-44 0.506 4.0 L-W-W-L-W

The Mariners hot streak combined with the Angels annual dive down the standings mean that Seattle enters the second half of the season in third place in the AL West, four games behind the Astros. The Rangers also struggled to close the first half of the season; they haven’t won a series since taking two of three from the White Sox back on June 19–21. Texas starts off the second half with a three-game series against the AL Central-leading Guardians. The Astros travel to Anaheim to play the Angels while Oakland hosts the Twins this weekend.