The Yankees continue their homestand fresh off winning a series against the Orioles the hard way, taking the last two after losing the series opener. They have now won 3 series in a row and are 16-8 in their last 24 games, which is tied with Tampa for the best record in the league in that timespan. They look to keep the good times rolling against the enigmatic Seattle Mariners this weekend.
The Mariners are always an interesting team that sticks around the Wild Card race for a while before fizzling out in the end. Right now, they are only 1 game behind the Yankees (2 in the loss column) for in Wild Card standings which makes this a huge series. Winning 3 of 4 will go a long way towards burying Seattle’s postseason chances and helping the Yankees reach their October goals.
Their Story So Far
The Mariners are 58-51 on the year with a -49 run differential. That puts them 3 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot, though they have just a 2.4% chance of making the postseason per FanGraphs. They are 5-5 in their last 10, though they did just do yeoman’s work taking 2 of 3 from Tampa this week.
The reason they have a winning record despite middling peripherals is their extreme clutch performance. Per Mike Axisa of CBS Sports, the M’s are slashing .281/.353/.492 with a 129 OPS+ in high leverage situations which is obscene and ranks 2nd behind Boston (that may also explain some of the Red Sox’s unsustainable success this year).
Despite those clutch numbers, Seattle ranks 28th in OBP and 27th in OPS. Their starters are 24th in WHIP and 23rd in strikeouts. Mitch Haniger (127 wRC+), Ty France (120 wRC+), and Kyle Seager (101 wRC+) are all having good years offensively while Chris Flexen (2.1 fWAR), Logan Gilbert (1.6 fWAR), Paul Sewald (1.3 fWAR), and Yusei Kikuchi (1.1 fWAR) are doing well on the pitching side.
With all that information, Jerry Dipoto had an interesting trade deadline sending away beloved closer Kendall Graveman to the rival Astros which angered players in the clubhouse (to put it mildly). The players felt “betrayed” and said the front office doesn’t “care about winning” according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Interesting team, indeed.
|Justin Dunn||SP||Shoulder||10-Day IL||After August 16|
|Jaime Schultz||SP||Undisclosed||10-Day IL||After August 15|
|Shed Long||LF||Lower leg||10-Day IL||After August 13|
|Sam Haggerty||LF||Shoulder||60-Day IL||After August 27|
|Andrés Muñoz||RP||Tommy John||60-Day IL||Out for season|
|Ken Giles||RP||Tommy John||60-Day IL||Out for season|
|James Paxton||SP||Tommy John||60-Day IL||Out for season|
|Casey Sadler||RP||Shoulder||60-Day IL||Unclear|
|Ljay Newsome||P||Elbow||60-Day IL||After August 15|
|Kyle Lewis||OF||Knee surgery||60-Day IL||After August 23|
|Evan White||1B||Hip surgery||60-Day IL||Out for season|
|Nick Margevicius||SP||Thoracic outlet syndrome||60-Day IL||After August 10|
Player Spotlight: Abraham Toro
The main player the Mariners got back in the Graveman trade is infielder Abraham Toro. From a long-term perspective the trade absolutely makes sense. Graveman is a free agent after this season, so cashing him in for a controllable player is a trade Dipoto saw value in. Plus, longtime 3B Kyle Seager is a free agent after this year, and in the infamous interview with former team President Kevin Mather, the team has no plans to re-sign Seager which makes Toro a natural replacement at the hot corner. As a fan, that trade would irritate the heck out of any of us especially when you’re trying to end the longest postseason drought in professional sports, but it’s a business.
Luckily for Dipoto, Toro has been on an absolute tear since being traded. In 8 games, he is hitting .429/.500/.857 with a ridiculous 269 wRC+ and 3 home runs. He has been worth a comical 0.8 fWAR in just those 8 games. He made an immediate impact with a home run in his first game after being traded (see above) and homered the next day as well.
The capped a four day stretch in which Toro homered in each game. Amusingly, two of those home runs came as a member of the Astros against the Mariners and two were after the trade against Houston. According to Jayson Stark, Toro is the first player in MLB history to homer on back-to-back days for and against the same teams. Hopefully Toro starts to cool off against the Yankees this series.
Here is the Mariners projected lineup via Roster Resource
- J.P. Crawford, SS (.269/.330/.364, 98 wRC+)
- Mitch Haniger, RF (.265/.321/.500, 127 wRC+) – might have been traded if not for the Mariners success this year
- Kyle Seager, 3B (.218/.295/.431, 101 wRC+) – not the walk year he was hoping for
- Ty France, 1B (.274/.349/.428, 120 wRC+)
- Abraham Toro, 2B (.255/.331/.482, 127 wRC+) – see spotlight above
- Jake Fraley, LF (.244/.413/.439, 145 wRC+) – playing well in limited time
- Luis Torrens, DH (.214/.287/.438, 100 wRC+) – prospect nerds will remember he was the first guy taken by AJ Preller in the Rule 5 draft just to sit on an MLB bench for a season to exploit that loophole
- Jarred Kelenic, CF (.128/.217/.221, 29 wRC+) – been a struggle for the top prospect though he has played well this week
- Cal Raleigh, C (.152/.200/.261, 28 wRC+
- Tom Murphy, C (.198/.290/.364, 85 wRC+)
- Jake Bauers, 1B/OF (.236/.288/.276, 63 wRC+)
- Dylan Moore, INF/OF (.186/.279/.356, 80 wRC+)
Tonight 7:05pm eastern
LHP Tyler Anderson (92 ERA+)
Acquired from the Pirates at the trade deadline, Anderson is in the mid-4’s for all of ERA, xERA, FIP, and xFIP. He threw 6 innings of 3 run ball in his one start as a Mariner thus far (Stats vs. NYY).
LHP Nestor Cortes Jr. (155 ERA+)
Nasty Nestor has filled in admirably as the Yankee “ace” and has allowed more than 1 run in just 1 of his 3 starts or 8 relief appearances this year (Stats vs. SEA).
Friday 7:05pm eastern
LHP Marco Gonzales (76 ERA+)
Gonzales is struggling this year after 3 straight good ones, mainly because he’s giving up more than 2 HR/9. Let’s hope the bombers hit some bombs off him (Stats vs. NYY).
The Yankees have not announced a starter for Friday’s game, and it is likely to be a bullpen game depending on how tonight goes. That’s what happens when two starters are on the COVID list and another hurts his shoulder.
Saturday 1:05pm eastern
RHP Chris Flexen (110 ERA+)
Flexen came back from the KBO this year and is having a solid year despite striking out fewer than 6 batters per 9 innings thanks to a great changeup (Stats vs. NYY).
LHP Andrew Heaney (74 ERA+)
Heaney was roughed up via 4 solo homers Monday against the Orioles. Hopefully he can pitch better against another poor offense he’s familiar with from his time in Anaheim this time out (Stats vs. SEA).
Sunday 1:05pm eastern
LHP Yusei Kikuchi (107 ERA+)
Kikuchi is having the best results of his MLB career thanks to an uptick in fastball velo that started last season. He also has struggled with the long ball this year (Stats vs. NYY).
RHP Luis Gil (160 ERA+)
Gil was electric in his MLB debut Tuesday night showcasing his dominant fastball and slider. He certainly earned another start and maybe a rotation spot (No stats vs. SEA).