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Series Preview: Mariners (56-52) at Angels (56-53)

The Mariners head to Anaheim for a huge series against a division rival.

MLB: AUG 02 Angels at Braves Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After winning their one-series homestand, the Mariners depart on a one-series road trip. These four games against the Angels feel momentous (as so many series against the Angels seem to): a referendum on each team’s deadline approach, an opportunity for one to knock the other down a full tier in the Wild Card race, a prelude to a push for Ohtani come winter. The Mariners have won four series in a row and bats up and down the lineup have come alive since mid-July. With Tom Murphy particularly ablaze and talk of an extension in the works, I’ll be paying attention to Murph this round. Who will you be focused on this weekend?

At a Glance

Mariners Angels
Mariners Angels
Game 1 Thursday, August 3 | 6:38 pm
RHP Bryan Woo RHP Shohei Ohtani
42% 58%
Game 2 Friday, August 4 | 6:38 pm
RHP Luis Castillo LHP Reid Detmers
51% 49%
Game 3 Saturday, August 5 | 6:07 pm
RHP George Kirby LHP Tyler Anderson
55% 45%
Game 4 Sunday, August 6 | 1:07 pm
RHP Bryce Miller RHP Chase Silseth
48% 52%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Overview Angels Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 113 (3rd in AL) 102 (8th in AL) Angels
Fielding (OAA) -3 (9th) 13 (3rd) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 102 (9th) 94 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 103 (13th) 87 (2nd) Mariners

The Angels are staring down Shohei Ohtani’s likely departure this season with six years of two superstars and no playoffs flashing before their eyes. With only two certain months left with the greatest player of the century, they’re finally going all in. In the days and weeks leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Angels bought hard, dealing prospects in return for seven impact-now major leaguers, all single-year rentals. These include starter Lucas Giolito (whose first two starts for Anaheim have been rocky), relievers Reynaldo López and Dominic Leone, and four veteran bats in Eduardo Escobar, Mike Moustakas, C.J. Cron, and Randal Grichuk. The big moves are also a response to some catastrophic injury luck; eighteen Angels currently sit on the Injured List. Most recently, outfielder Taylor Ward took a pitch to the face and the resulting fractures have ended his season.

At this point, the Angels feel like a long shot candidate for the playoffs. They’re four games out of the last Wild Card spot, and FanGraphs gives them 11% odds to make the postseason. After consecutive series losses to the Blue Jays and Braves, a series loss to the M’s this weekend would be at least one nail in the coffin. If they tie or win the series, their hopes may be bolstered with reinforcements on their way. Brandon Drury (shoulder contusion) could return from a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, and both Anthony Rendon (shin contusion) and Mike Trout (hand fracture) could rejoin the team later this month.

Angels Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Luis Rengifo 2B S 318 19.8% 10.7% 0.161 96
Shohei Ohtani DH L 480 23.3% 14.2% 0.369 187
C.J. Cron 1B R 237 21.5% 6.3% 0.205 93
Mike Moustakas 3B L 244 25.8% 8.6% 0.171 99
Hunter Renfroe RF R 416 21.9% 7.7% 0.201 106
Mickey Moniak CF L 215 32.1% 3.3% 0.249 149
Randal Grichuk LF R 275 20.7% 6.9% 0.191 120
Matt Thaiss C L 253 26.5% 12.6% 0.113 95
Zach Neto SS R 249 21.3% 4.8% 0.172 102

This Angels lineup is at least 50% different than the one we saw earlier this season, mostly due to the aforementioned spate of injuries. This lineup is older, a little less powerful, and Troutless. Ohtani remains far and away the Angels best hitter, leading all of MLB with 186 wRC+, 39 home runs, and 5.5 fWAR. Mickey Moniak is in center field in Trout’s absence, having a good year in a small sample size (149 wRC+, 55 games). Most of the lineup is playing about replacement level, but Grichuk is a notable addition; he homered in his first game as an Angel on Tuesday and boasts a 120 wRC+ on the year.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Los Angeles Angels v Detroit Tigers - Game One Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

RHP Shohei Ohtani

120 2/3 32.0% 10.2% 18.4% 45.2% 3.43 4.14
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 32.4% 96.9 114 134 113 0.317
Sinker 6.5% 94.6 104 133 87 0.31
Cutter 16.5% 88.7 97 91 103 0.446
Splitter 6.3% 88.7 126 131 117 0.181
Curveball 3.4% 75.8 82
Slider 34.8% 83.7 137 105 102 0.266

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.

This will be Ohtani’s third outing against the Mariners this year. He was pretty wild in his previous outing in June, allowing five walks and three hits in five innings, but limited the damage to just three runs.

LHP Reid Detmers

101 1/3 29.3% 9.0% 11.2% 33.2% 4.35 3.67
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 42.5% 94.7 89 104 75 0.357
Changeup 2.0% 85.8
Curveball 18.9% 75.3 90 102 133 0.259
Slider 35.8% 89.3 127 103 81 0.294

From a previous series preview:

After a brief cup of coffee in 2021, Reid Detmers had an eventful rookie season last year. He threw a no-hitter in May, was sent down to the minors in June, and finished the season strong with a 2.51 FIP across his final 13 starts after being recalled in July. Much of that late-season success can be attributed to a revamped slider that he had spent all season trying to hone.

Detmers has taken a pretty big step forward this year, pushing his strikeout rate to just under 30% thanks to his slider. He’s really struggled with efficiency, pitching past the sixth inning just three times this season and averaging 5.1 innings per start. He faced the Mariners all the way back in early April and allowed three runs in 4.2 innings.

LHP Tyler Anderson

99 1/3 17.9% 9.2% 7.4% 31.9% 4.98 4.46
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 36.5% 90.1 81 91 78 0.409
Sinker 5.6% 88.1 97 60 143 0.407
Cutter 22.7% 85.0 102 112 89 0.318
Changeup 34.2% 79.9 88 120 89 0.269

Tyler Anderson parlayed a big late-career breakout last year into a three-year contract with the Angels this offseason. Unfortunately, the tight rope he was walking last year has come crashing down and he’s seen all of his results take a turn for the worse. The biggest culprit is his fastball which has lost a half a tick of velocity. It was already one of the slowest four-semers in baseball which means every bit of margin was critical to his success. His changeup and cutter have remained potent weapons but opposing batters are crushing his fastball and that’s made all the difference.

RHP Chase Silseth

29 1/3 23.4% 12.1% 21.7% 57.5% 3.99 5.05
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 37.8% 95.1 92 122 135 0.405
Sinker 12.4% 94.3 87
Cutter 15.9% 90.2 97
Splitter 12.2% 86.6 85
Slider 21.7% 82.5 99 102 104 0.149

Chase Silseth was an 11th round pick out of Arizona in the 2021 draft where the Angels famously selected pitchers with all of their picks. He quickly made his major league debut the next year and has been an up-and-down spot starter since then. He has a deep repertoire, though no single pitch truly stands out. His fastballs rely mainly on raw velocity rather than an efficient shape and his splitter has been an inconsistent weapon for him throughout his career. His best pitch is his slider which sits in between a traditional gyro slider and a more modern sweeper. He uses that breaking pitch to put batters away, though he often has trouble getting to it since the rest of his repertoire is so hittable.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 62-46 0.574 -- L-L-L-W-W
Astros 62-47 0.569 0.5 W-L-W-W-W
Mariners 56-52 0.519 6.0 L-W-W-L-W
Angels 56-53 0.514 6.5 L-W-W-L-L
Athletics 30-79 0.275 32.5 W-W-L-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Tampa Bay 66-45 0.595 +5.0 L-W-W-W-L
Astros 62-47 0.569 +2.0 W-L-W-W-W
Blue Jays 60-49 0.550 -- W-L-L-L-W
Red Sox 57-51 0.528 2.5 L-L-L-W-L
Yankees 56-52 0.519 3.5 W-L-L-L-W
Mariners 56-52 0.519 3.5 L-W-W-L-W
Angels 56-53 0.514 4.0 L-W-W-L-L

The Angels sit a half game back of the Mariners in both the division and Wild Card races, so that matchup has the most consequence for the M’s-related standings this weekend. Houston swept Cleveland this week, including a no-hitter from Framber Valdez on Tuesday, and have pulled within a half game of the West-leading Rangers. The Astros will try to take sole possession of the division lead via a four-game set against the Yankees starting today. The Rangers finish their three games against the White Sox this afternoon before hosting Miami for three. Boston and Toronto’s series this weekend should also have Wild Card repercussions, since those two teams are currently battling over the last playoff slot ahead of the Mariners, Yankees, and Angels.