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Rays vs. Mariners Series Preview: Oh no not the Mariners again!

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Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays road trip started off well with three wins in Oakland. Then things went downhill as they dropped their last six games of the trip including three games to the Seattle Mariners. And those same Mariners will be their opponents this weekend.

The Mariners split a two game series with the Houston Astros and have won five of their last six.

Matchups:

Thursday 7:10 PM: Mike Leake vs Ryne Stanek
Friday 7:10 PM: Marco Gonzales vs Wilmer Font
Saturday 4:10 PM: Felix Hernandez vs Blake Snell
Sunday 1:10 PM: James Paxton vs Nathan Eovaldi

Rays face the same three pitchers as they did last weekend in Seattle and add their best pitcher, James Paxton

Mariners Starters Last 3 Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Mike Leake 92 555.2 16.3% 4.7% 0.97 4.13 3.90
Marco Gonzales 21 109.1 19.3% 6.1% 1.15 4.61 4.02
Felix Hernandez 73 433.2 20.0% 8.3% 1.29 4.30 4.56
James Paxton 60 348.0 26.8% 6.5% 0.70 3.31 2.78

Mike Leake allowed just two solo homers in his last start against the Rays. In his 12 starts he has allowed five plus runs three times while allowing two or less in six. This year right handers have gotten the best of Leake with a .359 wOBA despite typically allowing less damage to right handed bats.

Marco Gonzales is having a solid start to his first full season back after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2016. In 12 starts he’s thrown 66.2 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 3.22 FIP. The ridiculed Tyler O’Neill swap for Gonzales last summer is looking pretty solid from the Mariner’s end. He held the Rays to one run in 6.2 innings his last time out.

Felix Hernandez vs Blake Snell matched up last week. Snell had the more impressive night on the mound, but King Felix got the job done, with eight innings of one run baseball. Hernandez’s five previous outings saw him allow four plus runs.

The Rays avoided seeing the flame-throwing lefty James Paxton last weekend in Seattle but they won’t be so lucky this time. He threw a no-hitter in Toronto earlier this year and has a 2.95 ER and 2.87 FIP through 88.2 innings. His strikeout rate is up to 30.9%.

Edwin Diaz has been an effective closer. And then there’s this guy named Colomé

Mariners Relievers Last 3 Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Juan Nicasio 181 190.2 27.1% 7.8% 0.66 3.92 2.91
Alex Colome 179 189.2 25.6% 6.8% 0.52 2.75 2.77
Edwin Diaz 147 149.1 37.1% 9.6% 1.02 3.01 2.92
James Pazos 101 83.2 25.4% 8.0% 1.08 3.33 3.86
Dan Altavilla 78 79.2 25.3% 10.7% 1.24 3.28 4.31
Chasen Bradford 49 58.1 19.5% 7.9% 0.77 2.93 3.72
Ryan Cook 12 10.1 20.4% 13.0% 3.48 13.06 8.35
Roenis Elias 6 7.1 11.8% 11.8% 0.00 4.91 3.68

A couple weeks ago the Mariners acquired the Rays closer Alex Colomé to setup their stud closer Edwin Diaz.

Edwin Diaz has had a shaky last week to ten days, but has otherwise been an elite reliever with a 2.84 ERA and 2.07 FIP. He’s striking out a career best 42.6% of batters faced.

In four appearances with the Mariners Alex Colomé has yet to allow a run and has picked up four strikeouts without allowing a walk.

Five relievers threw out of the bullpen yesterday, but the Mariners hadn’t had to use more than two relievers in a night in the prior four days, so overall the bullpen is pretty well rested.

The Mariners have navigated injuries and still have a solid offense

Mariners Batters Last 3 Years

Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Kyle Seager 2047 85 10 8.8% 16.3% 0.258 0.331 0.462 0.337 115
Jean Segura 1935 39 87 4.7% 15.0% 0.300 0.339 0.433 0.333 106
Nelson Cruz 1932 119 6 9.5% 22.9% 0.284 0.363 0.542 0.380 145
Dee Gordon 1676 8 147 3.7% 14.1% 0.298 0.329 0.375 0.307 91
Denard Span 1488 28 38 9.1% 12.4% 0.269 0.340 0.399 0.323 102
Ryon Healy 1064 47 0 4.0% 23.0% 0.275 0.308 0.470 0.330 108
Mike Zunino 993 50 1 7.9% 35.3% 0.219 0.296 0.435 0.314 99
Mitch Haniger 787 33 8 9.0% 22.5% 0.269 0.346 0.480 0.351 123
Andrew Romine 757 8 21 6.1% 21.1% 0.227 0.286 0.315 0.266 61
Ben Gamel 728 13 8 7.1% 22.3% 0.269 0.323 0.399 0.312 97
Guillermo Heredia 671 9 3 8.6% 14.9% 0.252 0.334 0.342 0.301 90
David Freitas 75 0 0 9.3% 21.3% 0.212 0.288 0.303 0.265 65

The Mariners have weathered injuries to Nelson Cruz, Mitch Haniger, Dee Gordon, and Robinson Cano before he was suspended under the MLB PED policy. They have hit .257/.321/.416 and have put up a 105 wRC+.

Jean Segura (134 wRC+), Mitch Haniger (130 wRC+), and Nelson Cruz (127 wRC+) have led the way offensively.

Kyle Seager (93 wRC+), Mike Zunino (93 wRC+), and Dee Gordon (89 wRC+) have contributed in full time roles.

The Rays pitching staff was able to keep the bats quiet for most of the series allowing only ten runs in three games.

The Rays offense needs to get that key hit.

The Rays offense has had trouble getting runners across the plate over the past week or so. They have had opportunities, but haven’t gotten the clutch hit with runners in scoring position. The pitching has kept them in the game on most nights.

The Rays return from what turned into a disappointing road trip. They start a seven game and have to hope that some home cooking and subtropical breezes will help them get back on track.