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Series Preview: Rays visit ailing Mariners

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays left Arlington with their fifth straight road series victory after Kevin Kiermaier hit a massive homer with two outs to force extras.

The Rays have won six of their last eight. Now they head to Seattle to face the Mariners in an effort to keep the ball rolling and picking up series victories.

The Mariners head into the series off a 3-1 home and home series against Colorado. Before playing the Rockies they had only won two of their previous nine games.

The Matchups (EST):

Friday 10:10 PM: Jake Odorizzi vs Christian Bergman

Saturday 10:10 PM: Alex Cobb vs Sam Gaviglio

Sunday 4:10 PM: Erasmo Ramirez vs Ariel Miranda

Who is starting for the Mariners?

12 pitchers have made starts for the Mariners this year. This doesn’t even account for Drew Smyly having been on the disabled list all year. Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Ryan Weber are starting pitchers also currently on the disabled list for the Mariners.

The Mariners pitchers have combined for a 4.67 ERA and 4.80 FIP. The Rays miss LHP James Paxton who has been the best Mariners pitcher by a significant margin. In seven starts Paxton has put up a 1.26 ERA and 1.43 FIP. (Thanks baseball gods!)

Christian Bergman will make his fifth start having put up a 5.01 ERA and 5.82 FIP through his first four. He has struck out 12.5% of batters while walking 7.3%. The right hander is coming off his best start of the year. Bergman threw seven scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. In a very small sample it has been right handed bats that have feasted off him with a .446 wOBA. Left handed bats have only managed a .224 wOBA. This is in line with his career numbers, but has been more extreme.

Sam Gaviglio has posted a 3.50 ERA and 6.04 FIP in 18.0 innings. He has made three starts and one relief appearance. In his last start he allowed five runs in five innings at Coors Field. He’s struck out even fewer batters than Bergman at 10.7%. Gaviglio has limited the walks to 6.7%. The 27 year old made his major league debut this season, so there isn’t a lot of data to work with.

Ariel Miranda has been the Mariners second best starter by fWAR. He has posted a 4.17 ERA and 4.72 FIP on his way to a 0.4 fWAR in 58.2 innings. The left hander was sent to the Mariners from the Orioles for Wade Miley last summer. Miranda has posted a 21.1% strike out rate and 9.3% walk rate. In his last start he allowed two runs in five innings at Coors Field.

Edwin Diaz is having a rough sophomore season.

Edwin Daiz had a brilliant rookie year and looked to have a stranglehold on the closer role for the foreseeable future. But not so fast! His ERA is up to 3.80 and FIP is up to 4.77. Diaz’s strikeout rate has fell over 10% to a still healthy 29.0%. His walk rate has almost doubled to 12.9%. He’s been bitten by the long ball at a 16.7% HR/FB rate. It’s only 2% more than last year, but his fly ball rate has increased by almost 15%.

Tony Zych has picked up the lone save since Diaz lost the closer’s job. Zych has a 2.45 ERA and 4.06 FIP. Zych has struck out 17.5% of batters and walked 9.5%.

Nick Vincent (2.28 ERA/2.66 FIP) and James Pazos (1.93 ERA/2.48 FIP) have been the two most effective relievers out of the pen to start the season.

Despite being one of the most heavily worked bullpens in the majors they should be fresh for this series. Casey Lawrence threw 5.0 innings on 86 pitches yesterday so he’ll likely be unavailable for the series.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays
Danny has been upset for a long while the Rays didn’t acquire Nick Vincent
Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners bats have had to carry the team.

The Mariners have needed their bats to carry their wounded starting rotation, but they haven’t done enough as they have scored 4.38 runs per game and hit .256/.331/.400 and 102 wRC+.

Yesterday two of their best offensive weapons were removed from the game due to injuries. Nelson Cruz (140 wRC+) was hit on the hand by a pitch and Jean Segura (137 wRC+) injured his ankle sliding into second base.

Robinson Cano has been their other offensive threat with a 131 wRC+.

If Cruz and/or Segura miss the series Ben Gamel will be the second bat to look out for. Gamel has hit .277/.363/.516 and 135 wRC+ in 137 plate appearances.

After a hot start to the year former Rays utility man Taylor Motter really struggled in May hitting .188/.278/.234 and 48 wRC+, dropping him to an 84 wRC+ on the season.

Kyle Seager hasn’t been his normal self at the plate, but he’s still put up a 105 wRC+ and providing good defense at third base.

Rays look to make it six straight series victories on the road.

If Cruz and Segura miss the series the Rays could have a significant advantage in this series. The Rays should have the advantage on the mound.

Tonight’s game won’t be available on the local Fox Sports affiliate. The Mariner’s broadcast will be shown on Facebook through their Friday night MLB offering. Facebook’s game doesn’t have blackouts.

The Rays have the ball rolling. Now just keep the momentum going. In the words of Logan Morrison “This team is awesome.”