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Series Preview: Mariners (60-52) vs. Padres (55-58)

The Mariners and Padres wrap up the second half of the Vedder Cup this week.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Mariners are riding a serious high back home this week, and a high water mark for the season as well. Off a four-game sweep of the Angels and 5 consecutive series wins, Seattle hosts the second half of the 2023 Vedder Cup tonight and tomorrow night. The Padres and Mariners split the two games they played in San Diego in June, so the season series goes to whichever team sweeps these two games… or to no one.

At a Glance

Padres Mariners
Padres Mariners
Game 1 Tuesday, August 8 | 6:40 pm
RHP Nick Martinez RHP Logan Gilbert
49% 51%
Game 2 Wednesday, August 9 | 6:40 pm
RHP Yu Darvish RHP Bryan Woo
51% 49%

Team Overview

Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Overview Padres Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 106 (4th in NL) 103 (9th in AL) Padres
Fielding (OAA) 21 (1st) 10 (3rd) Padres
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 95 (3rd) 93 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 100 (12th) 87 (2nd) Mariners

The Padres have underperformed their talent all year, and are currently three games under .500 at 55-58. This puts them 11 games behind in the NL West and four games out of the third NL Wild Card spot, with three other teams ahead of them in that race. In a similar position at the trade deadline, the Mets sold from their big-league team to focus on 2024, but San Diego went all in to shore up a team that, on paper, should have had a shot this year. With no position players on the IL and nationally-recognized stars at several positions, the Padres opted to add pitching depth (Rich Hill in the rotation and Scott Barlow in the bullpen), and supporting bats from both sides (Ji-Man Choi and Garrett Cooper). The hope, it seems, is that the things that have held the Padres back so far have been issues of luck, like their awful 6-18 record in one-run games and no extra-inning wins. So far, they’re 3-3 in August, a pace that won’t get them to the playoffs.

Padres Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Ha-Seong Kim 2B R 425 19.8% 12.9% 0.166 135
Fernando Tatis Jr. RF R 427 19.4% 7.3% 0.215 117
Juan Soto LF L 496 20.0% 20.0% 0.247 158
Manny Machado 3B R 421 17.8% 8.1% 0.203 111
Xander Bogaerts SS R 459 17.6% 9.6% 0.125 105
Jake Cronenworth 1B L 460 19.1% 9.3% 0.153 93
Ji Man Choi DH L 87 33.3% 5.7% 0.272 78
Luis Campusano C R 73 15.1% 2.7% 0.217 138
Trent Grisham CF L 414 28.0% 12.8% 0.173 102

All that pessimism aside, the Padres lineup is filled with star potential, young and older, proven and less so. Juan Soto, unsurprisingly, leads the team in almost all offensive categories, with an fWAR (4.3) and wRC+ (158) that make the top ten in baseball. He was the Padres lone batter on the NL All-Star team. Just behind Soto in offensive stats, and leading off for the Padres, is second baseman Ha-Seong Kim. Kim signed with the Padres in 2020 after seven seasons in the KBO, and is having a breakout third year in the majors. He has amassed four fWAR already and shows significant improvement in all offensive numbers over his 2022 season. Fernando Tatis, Jr., Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts are all threats to opposing pitching, batting above league average and hitting for power, though none bring quite the dominance they did in previous years.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

RHP Nick Martinez

80 2/3 22.1% 8.1% 14.5% 53.1% 3.68 4.12
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 12.8% 93.3 91 137 68 0.364
Sinker 21.5% 93.0 86 63 153 0.328
Cutter 20.2% 89.4 96 78 71 0.455
Changeup 26.7% 81.0 93 150 104 0.219
Curveball 18.8% 81.8 87 102 124 0.317

Nick Martinez has effectively bounced between the rotation and bullpen since making his return to the majors from a stint in Japan last year. He started out the last two seasons working out of the rotation for the Padres but was eventually pushed into high-leverage work in the bullpen. With Joe Musgrove recently sidelined with a shoulder injury, Martinez made a spot start last Wednesday and a two inning relief outing on Saturday. It’s likely that his “start” against the Mariners will probably last a single time through the order before giving way to the bullpen.

RHP Yu Darvish

114 1/3 25.4% 8.0% 14.4% 42.8% 4.41 4.10
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 16.3% 94.7 121 76 102 0.321
Sinker 18.4% 94.2 103 122 93 0.304
Cutter 9.6% 90.9 94 81 116 0.272
Splitter 7.5% 89.2 88 132 63 0.201
Curveball 11.1% 76.1 94 129 159 0.179
Slider 17.6% 85.4 125 69 96 0.414
Sweeper 19.4% 82.4 125 90 111 0.329

Yu Darvish has been pitching in the major leagues for 12 years now, far surpassing the seven years he spent pitching in Japan to start his career. While he’s been overshadowed by some of the other pitchers who have made the stateside jump, he’s been a steady contributor for a long time, and the Padres just signed him to a six-year extension that will take him through his age 42 season. He still throws the kitchen sink and then some with seven pitches in his repertoire, each effective in different ways and situations. This year, he’s reduced the usage of his gyro slider in favor of the sweeping version of that pitch. It’s given him a few additional swings and misses, though he’s locating all of his pitches in the zone less frequently than he has in the past leading to a pretty significant spike in walk rate.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 67-46 0.593 -- W-W-W-W-W
Astros 64-69 0.566 3.0 W-L-W-L-W
Mariners 60-52 0.536 6.5 W-W-W-W-W
Angels 56-58 0.491 11.5 L-L-L-L-L
Athletics 32-81 0.283 35.0 L-L-W-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Tampa Bay 68-46 0.596 +4.0 W-L-W-L-W
Astros 64-69 0.566 +0.5 W-L-W-L-W
Blue Jays 64-50 0.561 -- L-W-W-W-W
Mariners 60-52 0.536 3.0 W-W-W-W-W
Red Sox 58-54 0.518 5.0 L-L-L-L-W
Yankees 58-53 0.513 5.5 W-L-W-L-L

Unfortunately, the Mariners’ dramatic sweep of the Angels hasn’t gained them ground on the Rangers in the AL West or much on the teams currently in Wild Card spots. It did, however, knock the Angels precipitously down the table, and allow the M’s to leapfrog the Yankees and Red Sox to become the first AL team outside the playoff berths. In the AL West, Texas swept the Marlins last weekend and begins this week playing Oakland; they don’t seem to be losing any grip on the division. The Astros split their four-game weekend series with the Yankees and play the Orioles this week before Baltimore heads to Seattle for Félix weekend. The Angels try to salvage their season in a series against the Giants, while Toronto and Tampa try to keep their Wild Card spots as they play the Cardinals and the Guardians, respectively. Boston won the first of their four games against the Royals yesterday, while the Yankees lost their first of three versus the White Sox.