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Series Preview: Mariners come to town to celebrate Kiermaier’s return

The fight for the AL wildcard is going to get real.

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The past two weeks the Rays’ offense hasn’t been able to come through with a big hit any time they had the opportunity. It’s been tough to watch, but the pitching has been very good.

The Seattle Mariners won the last two against the Baltimore Orioles to stop a five-game losing streak.

The Matchups:

Friday 7:10 PM: Erasmo Ramirez vs Austin Pruitt
Saturday 6:10 PM: Ariel Miranda vs Jake Odorizzi
Sunday 1:10 PM: Yovani Gallardo vs Blake Snell

16 different pitchers have made a start this season for the Mariners and doesn’t include Drew Smyly.

Needing depth is one thing, but needing to go 17 deep due to injuries and ineffectiveness is another. Drew Smyly has spent the whole season on the disabled list. After going through Tommy John Surgery he’s likely to never make an appearance in the regular season for the Mariners after the Rays traded him this past winter.

Former Rays starter/reliever Erasmo Ramirez gets the start in game one. In three starts since being traded for Steve Cishek, Erasmo has a 4.40 ERA and 6.77 FIP in 14.1 innings. In 56.0 total innings as a starter this year he has a 5.60 ERA and 5.25 FIP. He’s struck out 17.4% of batters and walked 4.8%. In his last start he allowed one unearned run in six innings to the Los Angeles Angels.

Ariel Miranda has a little more velocity than your typical crafty left handed pitcher with a fastball that averages 92 mph. Miranda has a 20.4% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate. He has allowed 30 homers. He gives up hard contact to batters of both hands. The biggest difference is left handed batters have put up a .198 ISO vs .245 ISO by right handed batters. In his last start he allowed four runs in 4.2 innings to the Angels. In five of his last seven starts he’s allowed multiple homers.

Yovani Gallardo was another off season pickup from trading enthusiast Jerry Dipoto. In 111.0 innings he has a 5.84 ERA and 5.25 FIP. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, 16.3% strikeout rate, and walks quite a few, 9.8% walk rate. That’s not a great combination. In his last start the Baltimore offense teed off for eight runs in four innings.

The Mariners have thrown the fifth most innings out of the bullpen.

Not really much of a surprise when you’re having to go that deep in starters that a lot of work is going to be transferred to your bullpen. They have been forced to throw 425.0 innings. The Rays have thrown the 10th fewest innings at 389.2.

29 players have thrown a pitch out of the Mariners bullpen. There is a lot of overlap in players that have started and pitched in relief this year.

The Mariners have some quality arms in that group.

Edwin Diaz burst on the scene as a dominant high leverage reliever last year. This year isn’t quite as good. The strikeout rate has tumbled by almost 10%, but still is at 31.6%. The walk rate has surged to 12.9% after posting a 6.9% rate last year. Diaz has a 3.63 ERA and 4.25 FIP while picking up 26 saves.

Nick Vincent has been their most dominant arm with a 1.97 ERA and 2.68 FIP. He doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts like most high leverage relievers, but he also limits walks.

Tony Zych is the other quality arm with a 2.68 ERA and 3.98 FIP.

The Mariners traded Cishek to the Rays in order to pick up some rotation help in Erasmo Ramirez. They picked up David Phelps from the Miami Marlins, but he is currently on the disabled list.

Edwin Diaz, Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Vincent, and Emilio Pagan have pitched the last two games, but they are coming off a rest day as they head to the east coast.

The Mariners offense is quite good.

The Mariner’s offense has hit .260/.327/.419 and have put up a 102 wRC+. They have scored just shy of 4.7 runs per game. They have needed it as their starting rotation has been rough. The Mariners have had to win games in a similar manner to the Orioles.

Nelson Cruz leads the way with a .289/.372/.552 line and a 143 wRC+. He’s hit 29 homers and driven in 96 runs.

Jean Segura has been one of Dipoto’s best off-season pickups. A solid shortstop defender that has put up a 122 wRC+.

Robinson Cano (111 wRC+) and Kyle Seager (106 wRC+) help out with solid bats in the infield. The rest of the lineup is roughly average to below. Rays pitchers need to avoid letting Cruz beat them.

Last week the Mariners picked up Yonder Alonso from the Oakland Athletics. Alonso had a breakout first couple of months and put up 135 wRC+ with Oakland. In 31 plate appearances with the Mariners he has put up 85 wRC+.

Kevin Kiermaier returns.

After missing a couple of months due to a hip fracture sliding into first base Kevin Kiermaier makes his return this evening. His defense and energy he brings is a game changer. He brings a solid bat, but it’s his defense that is must-watch.

The Rays are running out of time. They’re behind several teams, but they still have 39 games remaining. The Mariners have a struggling rotation that gives the Rays a great opportunity to break out of their offensive slide.