Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

Fan Confidence Poll: September 12th, 2011
Freddy's homers: long-term problem or just a blip?
(Photo Credit: Flickr user camknows via Creative Commons license)

Just three games left in this unfortunate September west coast swing, everyone’s least favorite road trip. The Yankees got off the schneid yesterday thanks to Peter Bourjos’ error, but the offense certainly started to look more like its usual self. Three games in the Emerald City, coming right up.

What Have The Mariners Done Lately?

Unsurprisingly, a lot of losing. Seattle just split a four-game series with the Royals, and before that they won just one of six games against the Angels and Athletics. Over their last 19 games, they’re just 5-14. The Mariners are 64-85 with a -100 run differential on the season, the third worst record and run differential in the league.

Mariners On Offense

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Rennett Stowe via Creative Commons license)

Obviously, it’s a bad offense. Seattle has scored just 500 runs this year, the fewest in baseball by 49 runs. They’ve scored more than two runs just twice in their last six games as well. Their entire attack revolves around two guys, and one of them is not Ichiro. The leadoff man is hitting just .275/.313/.339, easily his worst season in the States. Instead, those two guys are Dustin Ackley (.290/.367/.453) and Mike Carp (.274/.333/.465, but hot of late). Both are lefty swingers, so expect to see former Mariner Aaron Laffey a few times in the series if Boone Logan is still an no-go because of his dead arm.

The rest of the lineup is hit or miss, mostly miss. Brendan Ryan (.244/.310/.322) is one hell of a shortstop, but also a number nine hitter masquerading as a number two hitter. Justin Smoak is at .232/.318/.397 for the season, but has two homers and 13 hits in ten games since coming off the DL. Believe it or not, the DH platoon is Adam Kennedy (.241/.282/.391 vs. RHP) and Wily Mo Pena (.217/.217/.478 vs. LHP), which is sad. Miguel Olivo (.223/.256/.381) does the catching, and the duo of Casper Wells (.238/.316/.433) and Trayvon Robinson (.250/.293/.424) splits time in center field now that Franklin Gutierrez is out for the season with an oblique injury. Alexi Liddi (.125/.125/.250 in very limited time) and Kyle Seager (.265/.313/.364) split time at the hot corner. To call it a below-average offense would be an insult to below-average offenses.

Mariners On The Mound

Monday, RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. Phil Hughes): It doesn’t get any easier after that series in Anaheim. Felix has faced the Yankees twice this year, throwing seven innings each time (four runs and then one run) and beating them twice. His stuff is as nasty as it gets – a mid-90’s four-seamer, a mid-90’s two-seamer, a high-80’s changeup, a low-80’s curveball, and a mid-80’s slider – and he’ll throw pretty much any pitch in any count. All five are swing and miss pitches too. Hernandez is as good as it gets.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user jaycoxfilm via Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, LHP Charlie Furbush (vs. A.J. Burnett): One of the pieces Seattle got from the Tigers in the Doug Fister trade, the Yankees have never seen Furbush before. He’s been pretty bad in seven starts with the Mariners, pitching to 5.79 ERA (~4.75 FIP) in 37.1 IP. Furbush is a rather generic lefty, with a high-80’s fastball, a low-80’s slider, and a mid-70’s curve. He’s not great at striking people out (6.24 K/9), not great at limiting walks (3.57 BB/9), and not great at generating ground balls (41.7%), so in other words, he’s exactly the kind of pitcher that will give the Yankees fits.

Wednesday, LHP Jason Vargas (vs. Ivan Nova): Another generic-ish lefty without great peripherals (4.30 FIP and a 4.57 xFIP), Vargas goes to work with a high-80’s fastball, a low-80’s changeup, and a low-70’s curve. He’s also cut and sink his fastball on occasion. The Yankees have faced him twice this year and smacked him around both times: six runs in three innings in May, then eight runs in four innings in July.

Bullpen: Like every other team, Seattle’s bullpen is full of September call-ups. Closer Brandon League (2.95 FIP) is easily their best arm, and he’s being set up by journeyman Jamey Wright (4.32 FIP). Righties Tom Wilhelmsen (3.84 FIP) and Shawn Kelley (3.27 FIP) will also see important innings late in the game. Cesar Jimenez (just 1.1 IP since being called up) is the lone lefty.

The rest of the bullpen is filled out by various nondescript righties. Josh Lueke (3.82 FIP) was part of last year’s Cliff Lee trade, Chance Ruffin (5.75 FIP in limited time) was part of the Fister trade, and Dan Cortes (5.92 FIP) was part of the (first) Yuniesky Betancourt trade. Steve Delabar made his big league debut yesterday, and Jeff Gray (4.86 FIP) is pretty terrible. That’s it, ten relievers in all.

Recommended Mariners Reading: U.S.S. Mariner and Lookout Landing.

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Fan Confidence Poll: September 12th, 2011
Freddy's homers: long-term problem or just a blip?
  • Yank The Frank

    I think the latest blip is a combo of injuries and exhaustion. Hopefully they have their second wind and can take 2 out of 3 from Seattle.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    One day, Felix, one day, you’ll be wearing Yankee Pinstripes.

    • Monteroisdinero

      I’d vote for Felix.

      Wouldn’t vote Furbush…..

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Jesus Montero homered off Charlie Furbush in his 1st professional at bat. I look forward to the repeat performance Tuesday night.

  • gc

    Furbush??

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      I wonder if he has a sister…..Sally Furbush.

    • Jorge

      Traded for Fister in all-time great exchange of names

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        I heard they got a flame thrower in AA…Harry Ballz.

  • Bob Stone

    Although I do remember (unfortunately I cannot forget – I would like to) that the Yankees were up 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS and clobbered the Bosox 19-8 in game three and then became the ONLY team in baseball history ever to lose a seven game series after leading the series 3-0.

    On the plus side of the ledger, let us not forget that the Yankees were 14 games out of first place behind the Red Sox in 1978 and we all loved the outcome that season.

    Anything can happen in baseball. It is a game of streaks. The matchups between the BoSox, Rays and Yankees are set up to create a myriad combination of outcomes.

    Granted – Some outcomes are much more probable than not.

    Unfortunately (at this juncture) baseball is a game of possibilities not probablitites. If we were in the Rays position right now we would be relishing the opportunity to upset the odds and make it into the playoffs. That is why the game is so much fun.

    • Bob Stone

      Reply fail – meant as a reply to Ted Nelson in the last thread.

      My bad.

  • Bronx Byte

    Taking 2 of 3 would be good and a sweep even better.
    Meantime the Jays can continue the woes of the Sux while the Rays take care of business in Baltimore.

  • JP

    Ready for a sweep. King Felix has a mental lapse….it’s late in the season, and they are in the cellar again, and he decides he doesn’t care. Then they clobber the other two pitchers, bats coming alive.

    It’s time to solidify the distance between the Yankees and Red Sox. Winning the division matters, as home field helps. And the last thing I want is drama in the last 10 games.

    Let’s get on a little run here and ice it.

    • CS Yankee

      So, what you want them to do is;
      1) Overthrow the King
      2) Pound Furbush
      3) Kill Jason (ala Friday the 13th)

      /variousmemes’d

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      Felix will never have a mental lapse against the Yankees. After all, he’s auditioning for a job.

  • JohnC

    Not sure if I’d be rooting for the Rays to get in. They could be a very dangerous team with that pitching staff in a short series.

    • Ted Nelson

      And Boston can be a very dangerous team with that offense…

      Overall I think I’d rather face the Rays.

  • CMP

    Hopefully we’re down to only 1-2 more starts for AJ this year and hopefully forever.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      I hope you’re right. They’ll keep Burnett in the rotation for this start and one more start because of the doubleheader vs Tampa next week. He’ll probably blow up those next two starts and he’ll end up in the bullpen and off the roster.