May
14

5/14-5/16 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

By
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Am I the only Yankees fan with an irrational dislike of the Mariners? I guess it dates back to the 1995 ALDS, but it’s really ramped up in recent years with the Cliff Lee non-trade and Michael Pineda‘s shoulder injury. On the bright side, Seattle has won just seven of 18 games at the new Yankee Stadium.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Mariners have actually been playing pretty well of late. They just took two of three from the free-falling Athletics and have won three of their last four games. They’ve also won six of their last nine and nine of their last 13 to bring their season record to 18-20 with a -20 run differential.

Offense
To no one’s surprise, the Mariners are a below-average offensive club. They’ve scored just 3.6 runs per game this year, and their team 94 wRC+ is a bottom ten mark in the game. Seattle’s only injured position player is CF Franklin Gutierrez (127 wRC+), who visits the DL on an annual basis these days. He’s out with a hamstring problem.

(Brian Kersey/Getty)

(Brian Kersey/Getty)

Manager Eric Wedge’s two best offensive players are CF Michael Saunders (144 wRC+) and 3B Kyle Seager (129 wRC+), and they usually bat first and second. Wedge doesn’t mess around. Offseason additions DH Kendrys Morales (118 wRC+) and OF Mike Morse (110 wRC+) anchor the middle of the lineup, but OF Jason Bay (131 wRC+) will get a prime batting order spot against southpaws.

Seattle’s trio of disappointing young positions players includes former Yankee C Jesus Montero (64 wRC+), who splits time behind the plate with C Kelly Shoppach (139 wRC+ in limited time). 1B Justin Smoak (99 wRC+) has been less awful than usual, but 2B Dustin Ackley (55 wRC+) has made up for it. SS Robert Andino (22 wRC+) is playing everyday over defensive whiz SS Brendan Ryan (-5 wRC+). OF Endy Chavez (71 wRC+) and former Yankee OF Raul Ibanez (80 wRC+) round out the everyday roster.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Felix Hernandez
Did you know the Yankees haven’t played a series against the Mariners without seeing King Felix since 2009? That’s a span of ten series, and they’ve face him in every single one. That’s kinda annoying. The 27-year-old Hernandez has been as good as ever this year, pitching to a 1.53 ERA and 2.16 FIP through eight starts. His strikeout (8.59 K/9 and 25.3 K%), walk (1.23 BB/9 and 3.6 BB%), and ground ball (50.6%) rates are all outstanding. It seems silly to say, but as Jeff Sullivan wrote recently, Felix has made the jump from thrower to pitcher. His three fastballs — four-seamer, cutter, sinker — all sit in the low-90s, and his all-world array of offspeed pitches include an upper-80s changeup, a mid-80s slider, and a low-80s curveball. The Yankees have seen Hernandez plenty over the years, but as you know, he usually dominates them.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
Believe it or not, the Mariners actually have two aces this year. Iwakuma, 32, has pitched almost as well as Felix this year (1.74 ERA and 2.80 FIP), his second in MLB after spending last season as a swingman. His peripheral stats are excellent as well — 8.88 K/9 (26.7 K%), 1.39 BB/9 (4.2 BB%), and 41.5% grounders — so it’s not all smoke and mirrors. That said, his .198 BABIP won’t last forever. Iwakuma’s four-seamer and sinker sit in the upper-80s, and his top offspeed offering is a mid-80s splitter that falls off the table. He’ll also throw low-80s sliders and slow-70s curveballs. The Yankees saw Iwakuma twice last year, both times as a starter. He held them to one run in five innings the first time, then got tagged for four runs in five innings the second time.

Thursday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Aaron Harang
Harang, 35, is no longer the strikeout heavy workhorse he was during his prime with the Reds. He’s bounced from the Dodgers to the Rockies to the Mariners these last six weeks or so, but he’s only thrown a pitch for Seattle in 2013. Harang has been awful so far, putting up a 7.30 ERA (5.14 FIP) in five starts despite strong strikeout (8.39 K/9 and 20.7 K%) and walk (1.82 BB/9 and 4.5 BB%) numbers. The problem is his 35.8% ground ball rate and 2.19 HR/9 (15.8% HR/FB). These days Harang will sit in the upper-80s with his two- and four-seamer, and he throws the former roughly twice as often as the latter. A low-80s slider is his top secondary pitch, but he’ll also throw the occasional low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. Believe it or not, Harang has never faced the Yankees. I get that he was a career NL guy prior to being traded to the Mariners, but he’s been in the show for 12 years now. You’d think he would have run into them during interleague play at some point.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The Mariners were off on Monday for travel, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be this time of year. Closer RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (2.56 FIP) is one of the best least talked about relievers in the game, and setup men LHP Oliver Perez (3.76 FIP), RHP Carter Capps (4.72 FIP), and LHP Charlie Furbush (4.05 FIP) all rack up a ton of strikeouts. RHP Yoervis Medina (1.44 FIP in limited time) and LHP Lucas Luetge (2.64 FIP in limited time) handle the middle innings while former Yankee RHP Hector Noesi (2.67 FIP) is saddled with long relief duty.

Despite yesterday’s doubleheader, the Yankees are in pretty good shape bullpen-wise. Both David Robertson and Mariano Rivera had the day off, but they’ve also pitched in four of the last six days. Giving them the proverbial one extra day would be neat. If the Yankees send down one of their extra arms to clear a roster spot for Curtis Granderson, I’m guessing they would keep the fresh and available Brett Marshall and demote Vidal Nuno. I guess we’ll find out. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage. For the latest and greatest on the Mariners, I recommend Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner.

Categories : Series Preview
  • Bavarian Yankee

    I’m always excited to see Iwakuma. I was a big time fan when he was in Japan. Too bad he couldn’t pitch in the majors when he was in his prime but he’s still a pretty good starter.

  • pat

    Montero is inspecting Bay’s ass pretty closely in that pic.

    • trr

      LOL

    • CS Yankee

      Must be checking to see if Bay had as many splinters as he has riding the pine.

  • Desperate in Seattle

    Living in Seattle I’ve always felt like there was some special hate going on between those teams. I mean, everybody hates the Yankees and so on, but it seems to be kicked up a notch in the Great Northwest and seems to be mutual. Weird but makes the series even more fun!

    • JD

      Mike is right. I hate Seattle. They hate us too – something about money. If it would make it right, we can trade Rodriguez back for a rosin bag.

  • Darren

    The more I think about it, the more I think Joba needs to go.

    Now.

    I’ve never really bought in to the “Yankee Way” ideology, but if anything cries out for punishment for failure to adhere to an unwritten code, it’s this. Joba making an implied physical threat against one of the greatest Yankees of all time is a low point. Mo has more class and grace in his blisters than Joba ever will in his entire buffoonish body.

    This is a hard decision but needs to be made. I used to love and defned Joba but now I think he should be exiled from New York. Banish him to Miami, or Seattle, or do him a favor and trade him to KC. But I can never root for him again.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      You (and the MSM) appear to be more bothered by this than Mariano.

      • mike

        Agreed – and am I the only one a touch aggravated by the St. Mariano narrative?

        I’m sure Joba has a big mouth, but from the transcripts it appears that not only was Mariano a bit snarky to the reporters before he “sushed” Joba, but it seemed Mariano was annoyed and may have been a little rude himself.

        If Rivera wants to conduct an interview of that “import”, where the reporters need to focus on your every word, I’m sure there is a media room / locker room / conference room in the stadium he could have grabbed for a few minutes, rather than big-timing a lesser player as he was goofing with fans and his family. No one said Joba was rude, cursing or goofing off, so I think St. Mariano needs to relax himself and the MSM needs to stop kissing Mariano’s a** for a few seconds

        • vicki

          i completely agree. as always (in particular with regard to arod) a fan’s reaction to the man says less about the player than the fan himself. can we stop talking about it now?

    • pat

      “Implied physical threat”?

    • jjyank

      People are still talking about this? Good lord. You want to trade him because he told Mo not to tell him to “shush”? You’re crazy.

      It’s a non-story, and you’re the only one still talking about it. Let it go.

      • Jim Is Bored

        It’s especially fun that it’s completely on topic for this thread.

        Or, wait, no. It isn’t.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      You’ve become a pretty one-trick pony with this as of late.

      Basically, what Axisa said.

      We can put Mariano Rivera on whatever pedestal we wish, as fans, and a whole lot of it is surely deserved. If I were to guess, though, what Mariano would want in that clubhouse is to be treated like one of 25 players. Respect your vets, etc., sure, but no one’s above repproach. Let grown-ass people work out their own issues, and they’ll let you know when those issues have been resolved.

    • 14E

      Agree. The business of selling off valuable assets for peanuts is exactly the kind of thing the Yankees need to get into….sigh

      • trr

        I’m surprised this story still has legs. Yes, it’s over. I think Joba
        will be out of here either at the deadline or next winter, but not because of this “incident”, more that his time & value to the team has run expired….

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          It’ll have legs until the Yankees get dominated on Felix tonight and everyone blame Granderson’s return for ruining chemistry.

          • WhittakerWalt

            This.

    • gc

      Hey Darren,

      Shhhhhhhhh!!!!!

      • vicki

        lol.

  • Wil Nives #1 Fan

    The Yankees are going to trounce Felix. It just makes sense.

    • trr

      From your lips to God’s ears , as my Mom used to say.

      That always mystified me as a child, as did most things adults said.
      Unfortunately, , my comprehension has not improved so much over the years…

      • CS Yankee

        Doesn’t it basically mean that if you ask for something the lord will grant it?

    • http://twitter.com/Paddock9652 Stratman9652

      Which of course means Aaron Harang and his 7.30 ERA will hold the Yankees to one hit and strike out 10+. Its only logical.

  • SDB

    I’m finding it a bit harder to hate Seattle quite as much while they have Ibanez in the lineup.

    That said, I hope Felix gets hit around for once, and Iwakuma’s numbers finally return to earth.

    Fingers crossed for a Grandyman return…

    • CS Yankee

      Solution…
      CC K’s 24 tonight and Ibanez goes 0-3 and looks like the best player they got.

      • WhittakerWalt

        Voldemort could hit 3 solo homers for all I care, as long as we win.

  • Eddard

    Phelps and Nuno were able to shut down a surging Indians offense, just imagine what CC, Andy and Philbert can do to one of the worst offenses in baseball. They may not sweep because of King Felix, but another series win is in the cards.

  • Brian S.

    Assuming two of the series the last ten times these two teams faced were 4 game series (therefore .8 probability) there is still just a .0107% chance that they keep facing King Felix everytime by accident. Seattle is doing this on purpose.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Wouldn’t you want your best pitchers facing the best teams?

      • Brian S.

        A win against us doesn’t help them anymore than a win against any other team in the AL does. Wouldn’t they be doing this shit against the Angels and Rangers instead?

        • Brian S.

          *Wouldn’t they be better off

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Agreed.

            Jim is Hopefully Not Dissapointed.

            • Jim Is Bored

              Jim is never dissuaded from an interesting discussion.

        • Jim Is Bored

          No, but isn’t your goal to maximize your opportunities for wins?

          I mean there’s a theory that you could be better off scheduling him for the shitty teams and basically guarantee wins, and hope for the best against the upper echelon.

          But the usual game theory is to line up your best against their best.

          They could think their odds of beating the yankees are better with Felix on the mound(accurate), to the extend that it’s worth risking slightly lesser odds when you have someone else lined up against Houston.

          It’s not black and white.

          • Jim Is Bored

            And obviously it makes less sense this year with the Yankees 9th ranked AL offense.

            It’s also possible they’ve done this on purpose previously, but not this year.

            • Jim Is Bored

              Anyway, I think this explanation is more apt than “They hate the Yankees”.

              • Jim Is Bored

                Jim Is Talking To Himself

                /Tilapia’d

              • Brian S.

                Well the Rangers have had just as good an offense as the Yankees and are in their own division. I don’t want to look up if Felix has pitched against them every single time the last two years but if not then it would mean that they are dicks.

          • mitch

            I don’t want to turn this into a math nerd discussion, but their expected wins over the course of a season won’t change based on how they order their pitching.

            • Brian S.

              They’re still dicks.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                +1

              • mitch

                Agreed. I do think most teams, if given the opportunity, will align their rotation so that their best guys face the Yankees. I don’t have any data to back this up, but i’d guess they face the 1-2-3 starters more often than other teams.

                • CS Yankee

                  Bullshit, He is their #1 starter going against our #1 starter who both have started on Opening Day and each team has played the same amount of games.

                  Narrative, FTL

          • Robinson Tilapia

            So you’re saying put Felix up against the better teams because a schlubby pitcher can beat a more schlubbier team.

            Yeah, I can buy that too.

            #ihavenoopinion

  • 14E

    “Believe it or not, Harang has never faced the Yankees. I get that he was a career NL guy prior to being traded to the Mariners, but he’s been in the show for 12 years now. You’d think he would have run into them during interleague play at some point.”

    Harang actually came up w/ Oakland in the early 2000s, pretty surprising the Yanks never ran into him back then w/ all the times those two teams ran into each other.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I fully expect Felix to frustrate the shit out of us tonight. In other words, Yankes sweep.

  • 14E

    http://www.fangraphs.com/depth.....dings#AL-E

    Pretty surprising, imo, that boston projects better for ROS than this team.

  • Get Phelps Up

    Felix will be good. CC will be better.

  • CS Yankee

    Great to see the Series Preview…I know the talk was that DotF & Series Preview took so much work, but it is the Snapple of internet writings.

    Thanks Mike & (little) CO.

  • NYYROC

    How does a guy have a -5wRC+? Wow.

  • Frank

    Don’t know how series will go but can pretty much guarantee Yankees killer, Robert Andino, gets at least a couple big hits.

  • forensic

    Did you know the Yankees haven’t played a series against the Mariners without seeing King Felix since 2009? That’s a span of ten series, and they’ve face him in every single one. That’s kinda annoying

    Actually, yes, I did know that.

    http://riveraveblues.com/2013/.....nt-6224432

    Where’s my citation, thief!? :-)

    • vicki

      it takes a village.

  • Ken

    Someone needs to remind the YES announcers that we are tuning in to see a baseball game, not a mindless award show for “King” Felix. Sure, give the guy his due, then quit complimenting him all through the game. let the Seattle announcers do that. He’s not my king, he’s the opponent. After Ibanez hit a home run, Cone practically was ushering us out of the stadium, telling us how hard it would be to come back from that. Thanks to Al Leiter for restoring a small sense of sanity…it’s a game, yes, we can!