Yankeemetrics: Seattle sweep! (June 1-3)

This is what a game-winning homer looks like. (AP)
This is what a game-winning homer looks like. (AP)

King me!
The Yankees’ season-long trend of #weirdbaseball continued on Monday night when they destroyed one of the best pitchers on the planet, Felix Hernandez, tagging him for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 7-2 win over the Mariners.

Of course, this performance came less than 24 hours after they lost three-of-four games to the worst team in the American League (A’s), which followed a sweep of the best team in the American League (Royals). But you knew all that stuff already.

What you might not know is that:

• The Yankees were the first team ever to score at least seven runs and draw five walks against King Felix in a game.
Mark Teixeira is just the second player to hit a grand slam against Hernandez in Seattle (joining the legend of Alberto Callaspo).
• Teixeira now has six career homers against Hernandez, the most of any player against the former Cy Young winner.
• King Felix had a 1.79 ERA in his previous five starts against the Yankees, which was the second-best mark by any pitcher who started at least two games vs. the team in that span (since July 24, 2012).

Teixeira was the big star of the game, so let’s give him some more props here. He now has 18 homers at Safeco Field, which is the most of any visiting player at the ballpark. His grand slam was the first by any Yankee in Seattle since Bernie Williams hit one against J.J. Putz on May 16, 2005. And before Teixeira, no Yankee first baseman had ever hit a homer with the bases loaded against the Mariners. History, folks.

Jones, Drew … You gotta be kidding?
One of the Yankees’ most unlikely wins of the season was sparked by perhaps the most unlikeliest of heroes on Tuesday night.

Trailing 2-1 and down to the final strike, Stephen Drew and his .160 batting average knocked a game-tying double into right field to send the game into extras. Excluding pinch-hitters, it had been 40 years since a Yankee batting ninth in the order had a game-tying, two-out hit in the ninth inning (Rich Coggins in 1975 against the Brewers).

Garrett Jones then delivered the game-winner in the top of the 11th, crushing a three-run homer off lefty Joe Beimel to break the 2-2 tie. He became the first Yankee with a go-ahead homer in the 11th inning or later in Seattle since Kevin Maas on May 5, 1991.

How unlikely was the win for the Yankees? Not only were they 0-3 in extra innings this season before Tuesday, but they also had lost all 23 games this season that they trailed entering the ninth inning.

Hook, line and sinker
The Yankees finished off their sweep of the Mariners with a 3-1 win on Wednesday, extending their win streak in Seattle to eight games. That’s the team’s longest road win streak vs. the Mariners in franchise history.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched a gem in his first game back since going on the DL more than a month ago, striking out nine batters without a walk and allowing just one run in seven brilliant innings. The only other Yankee pitcher to put up that line (0 BB, at least 9 K, 1 run or fewer) in Seattle was Scott Sanderson on May 3, 1991.

This day was a milestone marker for Tanaka, his 25th game in the majors, and he’s done quite a lot in those 25 outings. Consider these numbers among pitchers to debut in the last 100 years:

• 16 wins are tied with Mel Stottlemyre for the most by any Yankee in his first 25 career games.
• 174 strikeouts are the most by any Yankee in his first 25 games, and the third-most by any AL pitcher, behind Yu Darvish (188) and Herb Score (180).
• 1.01 WHIP is the lowest mark by any Yankee in his first 25 games (min. 50 IP).

Mark Teixeira found the outfield seats at Safeco once again, clubbing his 379th career homer, which matches Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 67th place all-time. It was also his 35th home run against the Mariners, tied with Juan Gonzalez for the fourth-most against the franchise. Only Rafael Palmeiro (52), Manny Ramirez (39) and Frank Thomas (36) have hit more.

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6/1 to 6/3 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The West Coast trip continues and will conclude early this week in Seattle, with a three-game set against Robinson Cano and the Mariners. The Yankees are 9-2 in their last eleven games in Safeco Field dating back to 2011. Jeremy Bonderman pitched for the Mariners the last time the Yankees lost in Seattle. That … seems impossible.

What Have The Mariners Done Lately?

The Mariners lost a 12-inning game to the Indians yesterday and dropped three of four in the weekend series. (Hey, just like the Yankees!) After being a trendy World Series pick coming into the season — or at least a trendy AL West pick — Seattle is disappointing with a 24-26 record and a -18 run differential. They’re in fourth place in the division.

Offense & Defense

As has been the case quite often in recent years, the Mariners have a below-average offense, scoring just 3.72 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+. They can’t blame it all on the ballpark either (wRC+ is park adjusted). The Mariners are totally healthy on offense. No position players on the DL or even day-to-day.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Manager Lloyd McClendon’s lineup is anchored by DH Nelson Cruz (194 wRC+), who is tied with Bryce Harper for the MLB lead with 18 homers. Cano (80 wRC+) is in the middle of the worst season of his career — I suspect you knew that already! — despite having Cruz hitting behind him, so yeah, lineup protection doesn’t help as much as everyone thinks. 3B Kyle Seager (125 wRC+) has been very good and OF Seth Smith (125 wRC+) has raked as the left-handed half of the left field platoon.

OF Justin Ruggiano (89 wRC+) is the other half of the platoon with Smith, and ex-Yankees farmhand OF Austin Jackson (65 wRC+) recently returned from the DL to resume playing center every day. Remember when a bunch of Yankees fans were upset the team traded Jackson instead of Brett Gardner? What a weird time that was. Anyway, 1B Logan Morrison (101 wRC+), SS Chris Taylor (22 wRC+), and C Mike Zunino (77 wRC+) are the rest of the regulars while C Welington Castillo (22 wRC+), UTIL Brad Miller (106 wRC+), UTIL Dustin Ackley (54 wRC+), and UTIL Willie Bloomquist (12 wRC+) fill out the bench. Yes, they have a five-man bench at the moment.

The Mariners have a surprisingly bad team defense. Well, not bad, but it’s not great either. Cano and Seager are both excellent and Zunino’s a stud behind the plate, plus Jackson can still go get it, but there’s not a whole lot to see besides that. Cruz has actually played more right field (31 games) than DH (19 games) and he’s abysmal in the field, same with Smith and, to a lesser extent, Ruggiano. Taylor’s alright at short and Miller has a knack for hilarious errors. LoMo’s okay around the bag but won’t wow anyone. Cano, Seager, and Jackson … hit it to anyone but them.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (Career vs. NYY)
You didn’t think the Yankees were going to miss Felix, did you? Of course they weren’t. Hernandez, who is still somehow only 29, has a 1.91 ERA (3.19 FIP) in ten starts and 70.2 innings this season, so he’s basically as good as ever. He’s got a great strikeout rate (26.6%), a great walk rate (5.6%), a great ground ball rate (62.1%), an above-average home run rate (0.89 HR/9), and no platoon split (.258 vs .249 wOBA in favor of righties). Felix is on the very short list of the best pitchers in baseball, but you knew that already. These days Hernandez throws a fastball only 40% of the time or so — he favors his low-90s sinker over his low-90s four-seamer — and instead relies heavily on his upper-80s changeup. He throws that pitch more than one-third of the time, believe it or not. An upper-70s curveball is Felix’s preferred breaking ball, though he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s sliders per outing. This will not be fun.

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. SEA) vs. TBA
Seattle’s starter for tomorrow’s game is TBA because lefty James Paxton was just placed on the 15-day DL with a finger injury. (Paxton’s DL stint is why they’re carrying a five-man bench at the moment.) Ryan Divish says all signs point to fellow southpaw Mike Montgomery getting the start in Paxton’s place. Montgomery, 25, was once one of the best prospects in baseball, but his career has stalled out in Triple-A due to control issues. The Royals traded him to the Rays in the James Shields-Wil Myers deal two years ago, then the Rays traded him to the Mariners for Erasmo Ramirez in Spring Training. Montgomery has a 3.74 ERA (3.30 FIP) in nine starts and 53 innings in Triple-A this year, posting his best strikeout (21.8%) and walk (6.9%) rates in years. His fastball sits low-90s and his best pitch is a fading changeup. Montgomery never did figure out a reliable breaking ball — he’s thrown a curveball, a slider, and a cutter at times over the years in an effort to find a third pitch. If Montgomery doesn’t start tomorrow … I have no idea who else it would be.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. SEA) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (Career vs. NYY)
Walker is a nice reminder that even the best pitching prospects will break your heart, or, at the very least, run into bumps in the road to stardom. The 22-year-old has a 6.18 ERA (4.78 FIP) in ten starts and 51 innings so far in 2015, with an average strikeout rate (20.3%) and below-average walk (9.9%), grounder (39.2%), and homer (1.41 HR/9) rates. Righties (.374 wOBA) have hit him a tad harder than lefties (.340 wOBA), which is the opposite of what he did in limited action from 2013-14. Walker has a big fastball, sitting in the mid-90s with his four-seamer, and he throws it nearly 70% of the time. He throws his upper-70s curveball only 5% of the time, instead using an upper-80s splitter as his go-to offspeed pitch. Walker will also throw some upper-80s cutters. As with most young pitchers, there are good days and bad days, and so far this year Walker’s bad days have outnumbered the good days.

Bullpen Status
Like I said earlier, the Mariners played 12 innings yesterday, and that was after starter J.A. Happ went only five innings. McClendon needed seven innings out of his bullpen and all seven of his relievers pitched. RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (1.53 FIP), RHP Mark Lowe (2.88 FIP), LHP Charlie Furbush (3.03 FIP), and LHP Joe Beimel (3.20 FIP) have all pitched each of the last two days.

Closer RHP Fernando Rodney (4.98 FIP) has been very shaky this season. I mean really, really shaky. He’s put 39 runners on base in 21.1 innings. Yikes. RHP Dominic Leone (6.32 FIP) and RHP Carson Smith (2.29 FIP) are the last two relievers, though Smith has pitched himself into a setup role of late. He’s not a “last guy in the bullpen” guy. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page to see the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. For updates on the Mariners, check out Lookout Landing and USS Mariner.

A Haiku for the Rest of MLB [2015 Season Preview]

Does Donnie like Haikus? Of course. (Presswire)
Does Donnie like haikus? Of course. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only three days away. We’ve spent the last four weeks previewing the Yankees and the upcoming season, and yesterday we broke down the rest of the AL East. Today we’re going to wrap up our 2015 Season Preview series with a quick preview of the other 25 teams in baseball. After all, the Yankees are going to have to try to beat those teams this season too.

If you’ve come here looking for a serious preview post, you’re not going to get it. It’s Friday afternoon, Opening Day is right around the corner, and this year’s preview series is over. Instead, we’re going to have some fun and preview those other 25 teams in Haiku form. I encourage you to tell me how much my haikus suck and to make some of your own — pro tip: use the Haiku Counter to make sure you have the right number of syllables — and leave ’em in the comments. Enjoy.

Atlanta Braves
Traded their best bats
For a whole bunch of pitchers
They know scoring’s down?

Arizona Diamondbacks
Is Nuno their ace?
The answer just might be yes
Payback for ’01!

Chicago Cubs
Bleachers aren’t ready?
No prob, Bryant won’t notice
He’s in Iowa

Chicago White Sox
D-Rob and Melky
Back together in ChiTown
Growing ugly beards

Cincinnati Reds
Good enough to win?
Nah, not in that division
Can we have Cueto?

Cleveland Indians
Brantley is awesome
Kluber is really great
World Series pick? Eh

Colorado Rockies
Troy’s still a Rockie
Kyle Kendrick, OD SP?
Wait for ski season

Detroit Tigers
Miggy, Price, V-Mart
Lots of stars and real big names
Bullpen still a mess

Houston Astros
I don’t understand
You won “process World Series?”
That doesn’t exist

Kansas City Royals
Pennant last season
Volquez is replacing Shields?
For real? Yeah, for real

Los Angeles Angels
They have that Trout guy
I wish the Yankees had him
It’s Teixeira’s fault!

Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is the best
Donnie Baseball gets his ring?
If not, just blame Puig

Miami Marlins
Paid Giancarlo
They’re going for it again
When’s next fire sale?

Milwaukee Brewers
They all hate Ryan Braun
But not as much as A-Rod
This team is boring

Minnesota Twins
Phil’s still homer prone
Nunez’s helmet still falls off
Just like the old days

New York Mets
Take back New York, huh?
Orange and blue like the Knicks
But with fewer fans

Oakland Athletics
Ballpark is ugly
Beane traded everyone again
What’s a Stephen Vogt?

Philadelphia Phillies
Rebuild? Finally!
Cole will be traded real soon
Then skip to next year

Pittsburgh Pirates
Cervelli pumps fist
McCutchen cut his dreads
A World Series team?

St. Louis Cardinals
Contender again
Such a boringly good team
Gets boring haiku

San Diego Padres
Kemp, Upton, Myers, Shields
But what about Yangervis?
Solarte Partay!

San Francisco Giants
The World Series champs
But it’s an odd number year
So no repeat then

Seattle Mariners
You can have Robbie
You are still stuck with Jack Z.
Yankees win the trade

Texas Rangers
Could this be the year
That Elvis Andrus will hit?
Hah, made myself laugh

Washington Nationals
Awesome rotation!
Future Yankee Bryce Harper
Has nice ring to it

6/10-6/12 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The schedule gods were kind to the Yankees this year. This is their final trip out to the West Coast and it only lasts six days. Not too bad. The Yankees are in Seattle to open a three-game set against Robinson Cano and the Mariners tonight. Seattle won all three games at Yankee Stadium earlier this season, one of which was postponed a few weeks by rain.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Mariners are coming in very hot. They’ve won eight of their last nine games (including the makeup game in the Bronx) and just took three of four from the oh so terrible Rays in Tampa. At 34-29 with a +34 run differential, the Mariners currently sit in the second wildcard spot, 2.5 games up on New York.

Offense
Manager Lloyd McClendon’s team has an 85 wRC+ and averages 4.16 runs per game, so they’re below-average offensively. They’re banged up too. 1B Logan Morrison (8 wRC+) and DH Corey Hart (82 wRC+) are on the disabled list and both 1B Justin Smoak (79 wRC+) and OF Michael Saunders (112 wRC+) are day-to-day with quad and shoulder problems, respectively. Smoak has been used as a defensive replacement the last few days but hasn’t been able to do much more than that.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

As expected, Cano (120 wRC+) has been the team’s best hitter this year, though his power output (two homers and .090 ISO) is way down. 3B Kyle Seager (118 wRC+) has been very good while Brooklyn-born OF James Jones (99 wRC+) has been league average. He grew up in the Ebbets Field apartments. Pretty cool, no? OF Cole Gillespie (121 wRC+ in limited time) has been a useful part-timer, but otherwise the Mariners don’t have anyone who has been even an average hitter this season.

OF Dustin Ackley (81 wRC+) and C Mike Zunino (84 wRC+) are disappointments, but at least Zunino has the whole “young catcher in MLB” excuse to fall back on. SS Brad Miller (47 wRC+) has been awful, Ditto OF Stefen Romero (69 wRC+), OF Endy Chavez (65 wRC+ in limited time), and backup C John Buck (84 wRC+ in limited time). UTIL Willie Bloomquist (72 wRC+) has been playing first base with Smoak banged up. Cano and Seager are the two guys the Yankees can’t let beat them.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Vidal Nuno (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (vs. NYY)
Iwakuma, 33, was on the disabled list with a finger injury when these two clubs first played. Masahiro Tanaka‘s former teammate with the Rakuten Golden Eagles has a 2.66 ERA (3.44 FIP) in seven starts and 50.2 innings this year. Last year, when he finished third in the AL Cy Young voting, Iwakuma had a … 2.66 ERA and 3.44 FIP. Freaky. His strikeout (6.39 K/9 and 19.2 K%) and walk (0.71 BB/9 and 2.1 BB%) rates are both down a bit from last year while his ground ball rate (55.8%) has jumped a notch. Iwakuma’s homer rate (1.07 HR/9 and 15.8 HR/FB%) is about the same and lefties (.313 wOBA) had hit him much harder than righties (.228 wOBA). Like Tanaka, Iwakuma’s out pitch is a mid-80s splitter, though his upper-80s four-seamer and sinker lag behind his ex-teammate. A slow low-80s slider is his other offspeed pitch.

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. SEA) vs. RHP Chris Young (vs. NYY)
The Mariners have struck scrap heap gold with Young, who has a 3.42 ERA (5.38 FIP) in eleven starts (and one relief appearance) and 68.1 innings. Safeco Field has been perfect for his extreme fly ball (25.8% grounders) ways, as he’s been much more effective at home (.230 wOBA) than on the road (.269 wOBA). He doesn’t have a platoon split, doesn’t miss bats (4.35 K/9 and 11.6 K%), doesn’t limit walks (3.95 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%), and doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.32 HR/9 and 8.0 HR/FB%). And yet, it works for him. Baseball is so weird. Young is a pure two-pitch pitcher these days, throwing a mid-80s fastball about 75% of the time and filling in the gaps with upper-70s sliders. He survives because of his funky delivery, which hides the ball very well. Young held the Yankees to two runs (one earned) in 5.2 innings back in April.

(Mike Carlson/Getty)
(Mike Carlson/Getty)

Thursday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. SEA) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (vs. NYY)
Due to injuries, the 25-year-old Elias jumped straight from Double-A to MLB this season, and he has a 3.64 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 13 starts and 81.2 innings so far. Not bad for an unheralded Cuban signee. Elias has good but unspectacular peripherals across the board — 7.71 K/9 (20.8 K%), 3.20 BB/9 (8.7 BB%), 0.99 HR/9 (11.8 HR/FB%), and 46.3% grounders — and he has small home/road and left/right splits. Elias uses a low-90s fastball to set up his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball, both of which are quality offerings. The Yankees won’t have to face Felix Hernandez this series, but Elias did strike out a career-high ten while allowing two runs in seven innings in the Bronx a few weeks ago.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners made the long flight from Tampa to Seattle yesterday, and their bullpen has worked quite a bit of late. Closer RHP Fernando Rodney (2.72 FIP) has pitched in two of the last three days and four of the last seven. Setup man RHP Danny Farquhar (2.70 FIP) threw two innings yesterday and RHP Dominic Leone (2.85 FIP) has pitched in back-to-back games.

The rest of the bullpen includes RHP Yoervis Medina (4.04 FIP), RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (4.06 FIP), LHP Joe Beimel (3.08 FIP), and LHP Charlie Furbush (3.66 FIP). There isn’t a true long man in the bunch, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just unusual. The Yankees were rained out yesterday, so their bullpen is rested. Check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. For the latest and greatest on the Mariners, head over USS Mariner and Lookout Landing.

6/2 One Game Preview: Seattle Mariners

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Thanks to a rainout on April 30th, the Mariners are back in the Bronx for one night only. The Yankees and Mariners are making up that postponed game tonight, on what should have been an off-day. Seattle did win the two other games in the series back in April.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Mariners just took two straight from the Tigers but have still lost five of their last eight overall. They played in Seattle yesterday afternoon and had to fly in overnight for this game. They leave for Atlanta later tonight. That must suck. Overall, the Mariners are 28-28 with a +13 run differential on the season, which has them sitting in fourth place in the top heavy AL West.

Offense
At 4.07 runs per game with a team 83 wRC+, manager Lloyd McClendon’s squad is comfortably below-average offensively. They are without 1B Logan Morrison (8 wRC+) and DH Corey Hart (82 wRC+), who are on the disabled list with knee and hamstring problems, respectively. Neither will be back tonight. 2B Robinson Cano (115 wRC+) has not played the last three games due to a bruised hand after being jammed by a pitch. If he doesn’t play tonight, then it must be a really bad bruise. I can’t imagine Robbie will pass up an opportunity to torch his old team.

3B Kyle Seager (125 wRC+) has been the team’s best hitter on a rate basis this year, and that is especially true right now with Cano banged up. OF Michael Saunders (109 wRC+) and OF James Jones (107 wRC+ in limited time) are the only other hitters who have been even average for Seattle. 1B Justin Smoak (88 wRC+) and OF Dustin Ackley (85 wRC+) continue to be monumental disappointments, as is SS Brad Miller (42 wRC+). Miller might legitimately be the worst regular player in baseball. It’s amazing he’s not back in Triple-A yet.

Aside from that group, the Mariners are trotting out C Mike Zunino (88 wRC+) and IF Nick Franklin (-1 wRC+ in limited time) fairly regularly right now. OF Stefen Romero (56 wRC+) plays against lefties, OF Cole Gillespie (88 wRC+ in limited time) plays against righties, and UTIL Willie Bloomquist (53 wRC+ in limited time) is the veteran bench guy every team loves to have. C John Buck (65 wRC+) is the backup catcher and OF Endy Chavez (79 wRC+) the designated “holy moly he’s still in baseball?” guy.

(Tom Pennington/Getty)
(Tom Pennington/Getty)

Pitching Matchup: RHP David Phelps (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. NYY)
One game series and of course it’s Felix. How could it not be? The rainout pushed the 28-year-old Hernandez out of the series in New York, but I guess the Yankees can’t escape him that easily. Felix has been superb this season, as usual, with a 2.57 ERA (2.23 FIP) in 12 starts and 84 innings. Lots of strikeouts (8.89 K/9 and 24.8 K%), lots of grounders (51.7%), few walks (1.71 BB/9 and 4.8 BB%), fewer homers (0.32 HR/9 and 5.9% HR/FB). Definition of elite. He also has a bit of a reverse split this year — righties have a .271 wOBA while lefties have a .248 wOBA — but still, he’s good against everyone. Felix has probably the nastiest stuff in the game, with a low-90s fastball that runs back in on righties, an upper-80s changeup that falls off the table, an unhittable mid-80s slider, and knee-buckling low-80s curveball. Every positive pitching adjective in the book applies to this guy.

Bullpen Status
Left-hander Roenis Elias threw a complete game shutout against the Tigers yesterday, so McClendon’s bullpen got a nice day of rest. Closer RHP Fernando Rodney (3.02 FIP) is the anchor and he has been a high-wire act all season. Every time I watch him he’s putting the tying run on base. RHP Yoervis Medina (4.07 FIP) and former Yankees farmhand RHP Danny Farquhar (2.76 FIP) are the primary setup men. Farquhar went to Seattle in the Ichiro Suzuki trade.

LHP Charlie Furbush (4.09 FIP) and LHP Joe Beimel (2.95 FIP) are the team’s two lefties while RHP Dominic Leone (3.24 FIP) and RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (3.97 FIP) handle pretty much all other situations. Outside of David Robertson, who has thrown a ton of pitches the last two days, the Yankees’ bullpen should be in good shape behind Phelps tonight. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out USS Mariner and Lookout Landing for everything you need to know about the Mariners over the next like, ten hours or so.

4/29-5/1 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

Don't worry Robbie, I'm sure the Yankees will find someone else to fill that extra spot in Monument Park. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Don’t worry Robbie, I’m sure the Yankees will put that extra spot in Monument Park to good use. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

For the first time in his career, Robinson Cano will be a visiting player in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees’ best player from 2010-13 returns to New York this week after leaving the team for the greener pastures of Seattle and the Mariners over the winter. The Bombers made his a strong offer but the M’s blew it right out of the water. Such is life. This will be kinda weird.

What Have They Done Lately?
As expected, the Mariners are still terrible even with Cano. They did just take two of three from the Rangers but have won just four of their last 13 games overall. At 10-14 with a -8 run differential, the only thing keeping Seattle out of the AL West cellar is the Astros.

Offense
Both in terms of runs per game (3.85) and wRC+ (79), the Mariners have been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this season. It’s kind of amazing Cano left the 2013 Yankees (85 wRC+) for a team that is somehow worse offensively. Anyway, Seattle’s only injured position player is 1B/OF/DH Logan Morrison (hamstring), who won’t be coming off the DL this series.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Just like last season, 3B Kyle Seager (123 wRC+) has been the Mariners best position player in the early going. Cano (100 wRC+) is off to a slow start, but come on, you know as well as I do that he’s going to rake before long. 1B/DH Corey Hart (117 wRC+) has been productive around miscellaneous nagging injuries and 1B Justin Smoak (101 wRC+) continues to do just enough to keep people interested. This season it was a huge opening series against the Angels. Eventually they’ll move on.

C Mike Zunino (91 wRC+) has a ton of power but his 21/1 K/BB is pretty funny. Others like OF Dustin Ackley (74 wRC+), SS Brad Miller (46 wRC+), OF Michael Saunders (66 wRC+), and former Yankees farmhand OF Abe Almonte (53 wRC+) have been predictably awful. Almonte was the guy the Yankees traded for Shawn Kelley. OF Stefan Romero (64 wRC+), OF Cole Gillespie (-15 wRC+), UTIL Willie Bloomquist (30 wRC+), and backup C John Buck (54 wRC+) fill out the bench.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Chris Young (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
When Randy Wolf made the Mariners out of Spring Training but opted out of his contract because the team tried to re-negotiate the terms (true story), the club picked up the 35-year-old Young. The 6-foot-10 right-hander has a 3.50 ERA (5.25 FIP) in 18 innings across three starts and one relief appearance this year, walking (5.50 BB/9 and 14.3 BB%) more batters than he’s struck out (5.00 K/9 and 13.0 K%). He also continues to be one the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball (25.0% grounders). That’s been true his entire career. His reverse split — righties has a .341 wOBA, lefties a .307 wOBA — is a sample size issue and not consistent with the rest of his career. Young is a pure two-pitch pitcher these days, throwing a mid-80s fastball about 75% of the time and filling in the gaps with upper-70s sliders. He survives because of his funky delivery, which hides the ball very well.

(Marc Serota/Getty)
(Marc Serota/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP David Phelps (vs. SEA) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (No vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Elias, 25, defected from Cuba a few years ago and made the rotation in Spring Training (despite never pitching above Double-A) thanks to the Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker injuries. He has a 3.54 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 28 innings across five starts, pairing a strong ground ball rate (50.6%) with mediocre at best strikeout (6.75 K/9 and 18.1 K%) and walk (4.50 BB/9 and 12.1 BB%) rates. Righties (.332 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.299 wOBA) in his brief MLB career. Elias uses a low-90s fastball to set up his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball, both of which are quality offerings. Since no one on the Yankees has ever faced him before, Elias has the element of surprise working in his favor this week.

Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
You didn’t think the Yankees would get through a series against Seattle and not face Felix, did you? You should know better by now. The King is as good as ever this year, with a 2.40 ERA (2.41 FIP) in six starts and 41.1 innings. His peripherals are, as the kids say, stupid good: 10.23 K/9 (28.7 K%), 1.52 BB/9 (4.3 BB%), and 47.7% grounders. That’ll work just fine. He also has a tiny platoon split, so left or right, it doesn’t matter. Felix, 28, probably has the nastiest stuff in the game, starting with a low-90s fastball that runs back in on righties. His upper-80s changeup is unhittable, his mid-80s slider is unhittable, and his low-80s curveball is unhittable. It’s all unhittable. The guy is a video game. Felix’s career numbers against the Yankees aren’t as ridiculous as you might expect but they’re still excellent. In an age in which Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez are all the pitching rage, Hernandez is every bit as good as those guys and he’s been doing it a lot longer.

Farquhar. (Thomas B. Shea/Getty)
Farquhar. (Thomas B. Shea/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Mariners were off on Monday, so new manager Lloyd McClendon’s bullpen is pretty fresh. RHP Fernando Rodney (2.72 FIP) is the closer and remains a high-wire act. Former Yankees farmhand RHP Danny Farquhar (2.75 FIP) and RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (5.38 FIP) have been his primary setup men. Farquhar is one of the guys the Bombers traded to Seattle for Ichiro Suzuki a few years ago.

McClendon has three lefties in his bullpen: LHP Joe Beimel (3.18 FIP), LHP Charlie Furbush (4.46 FIP), and LHP Lucas Luetge (9.51 FIP). RHP Dominic Leone (3.58 FIP) and RHP Yoervis Medina (5.47 FIP) fill out the rest of the eight-man relief crew. The schedule has allowed them to use a four-man rotation the last turn or two, so they’ve been carrying the extra reliever in the meantime. That’ll change next weekend. For the status of the Yankees bullpen, check out our Bullpen Workload page. For the latest and greatest on the Mariners, check out USS Mariner and Lookout Landing.

Report: Astros, Mariners among teams interested in Eduardo Nunez

(Stacy Revere/Getty)
(Stacy Revere/Getty)

The Yankees designated Eduardo Nunez for assignment on Tuesday, giving them ten days to trade him, release him, or slip him through waivers. That is down to eight days now, and considering the waiver process takes three days, it’s really more like five days. This situation could be resolved before the start of next week.

According to Marly Rivera, the Astros and Mariners* are among the teams with interest in Nunez. The middle infield bar is pretty low around the league right now, especially at shortstop, so I figured there would be some interest. That the Yankees couldn’t work out a trade before designating him suggests interest isn’t that high though. For what it’s worth, George King hears Nunez is expected to wind up elsewhere, either through a trade or waivers.

* As you surely remember, the Mariners wanted Nunez as part of the failed Cliff Lee trade a few years ago, so their interest now is not surprising.

Since he’s been designated for assignment, Nunez has pretty much zero trade value. He had very little trade value before being removed from the 40-man roster, but this clinches it. The Yankees forced their own hand with the move and other teams know they have to move him. That’s the way the DFA game has been and always will be. If they were to ship him to the Astros or Mariners, the likely return would be a nondescript non-40-man minor leaguer, cash, or a player to be named later. Don’t get your hopes up.

Nunez, 26, has hit .267/.313/.379 (86 wRC+) in parts of four seasons, in a league where the average shortstop put up a … wait for it … 86 wRC+ from 2010-13. His offense isn’t the problem, especially since he can steal bases on top of the league average-ish production. The issue has been and always be his defense, which hasn’t improved after years and years of work. This has been a career long problem and his career started in 2005.

The Yankees are short on shortstops right now, especially with Brendan Ryan hurt. Derek Jeter appears to be healthy and is moving fine in the field, but at age 39, he’s not someone who can play the position day after day. Joe Girardi‘s going to mix in some DH days every once in a while. He has to. Dean Anna is the backup shortstop, Yangervis Solarte the emergency backup, and the Triple-A starter is Carmen Angelini according to Chad Jennings. (Addison Maruszak was released yesterday according to Donnie Collins.) The 25-year-old Angelini had a 73 wRC+ at Double-A Trenton last year, so yeah.

Even though his defense is nightmarish, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Nunez slipped through waivers and went to Triple-A (he can’t elect free agency since it would be his first outright assignment), at least until Ryan returns. The Astros and Mariners and whoever else probably won’t give up anything of value for him in a trade, so keeping Nunez around as an emergency backup plan is better than losing him for nothing. Especially with no shortstop at Triple-A. If he doesn’t stick around, they’ll have to find someone just like him to stash in the minors.