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Series Preview: Rays vs Mariners

The 10-6 Mariners meet up with the 9-7 Rays.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Seattle Mariners
Julio Rodrieguez
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays played a very competitive series against the Boston Red Sox and were able to snatch the series victory from defeat. The pitching has gotten on track, and the offense is moving in the right direction.

The Rays sit in third place in the American League East at 9-7 with roughly 10% of the season in the books. They are 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and 1.0 game behind the New York Yankees. They are 2.5 games ahead of the fourth place Red Sox and 3.0 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.

Schedule

Tuesday 6:40 PM: Logan Gilbert vs Matt Wisler/Josh Fleming
Wednesday 6:40 PM: Marco Gonzales vs Drew Rasmussen
Thursday 1:10 PM: Chris Flexen vs Corey Kluber

In game one the Rays will go with Matt Wisler as the opener ahead of Josh Fleming as the bulk pitcher.

Logan Gilbert was drafted out of the pitching power house Stetson University (Deland, Florida) that produced the Rays game three starter Corey Kluber as well as Jacob deGrom. Gilbert has gotten off to a quick start in his first full season in the majors. He’s posted a 0.54 ERA/2.41 FIP/3.02 xFIP in his first three starts. He has posted a good strikeout rate (25.2%) while limiting walks (5.1% walk rate). Gilbert works off a 95.2 mph four-seam fastball that he throws 60% of the time. His primary breaking ball is a 86.1 mph slider. He’ll mix in a 79.7 mph curveball and 85.5 mph changeup, but will only throw a handful per game. He will not use the changeup against right handed batters.

Marco Gonzales must not have gotten the new batch of balls, because he’s allowed four homers in 13.2 innings. He’s posted a 3.29 ERA/5.85 FIP/3.65 xFIP. He’s striking out 20.3% of batters while only walking 4.7% of batters. Gonzales uses two primary pitches, a 88.3 mph sinker and 79.7 mph changeup. He throws each pitch roughly 35% of the time. Against right handed batters he’ll throw a 86.0 mph cutter in on the hands. He will mix in a 77.0 mph curveball trying to steal a strike but isn’t a swing and miss threat.

Chris Flexen is continuing a strong showing after a successful first full major league season in 2021. Over 17.1 innings he’s posted a 3.63 ERA/3.99 FIP/4.43 xFIP that is similar to his 2020 line of 3.61 ERA/3.89 FIP/4.56 xFIP. He doesn’t get very many strikeouts (16%) and limits walks (5.5%). Flexen uses a 91.3 mph four-seam fastball and 87.2 mph cutter as his two primary pitches. Against left handed batters he adds a 81.5 mph changeup. He will throw the changeup to right handed batters but does so infrequently. Early in the count he’ll try to sneak in a 74.6 mph curveball in order to try to steal a strike.

New offense has gotten off to a quick start.

This isn’t the same Seattle Mariners people are used to. Kyle Seager is gone, but in comes young bats Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. They have also brought in veterans Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, and Adam Frazier. As a team they are hitting .238/.338/.401 and putting up a league leading 127 wRC+.

Ty France (235 wRC+) and JP Crawford (214 wRC+) have gotten off to blistering hot starts. Eugenio Suarez looks to be having a rebound from a very tough 2021 season with a 168 wRC+ in the first few weeks of the 2022 season.

Adam Frazier (98 wRC+) and Mitch Haniger (99 wRC+) have been fine, but others are performing below expectatons. Jarred Kelenic (66 wRC+) continues to struggle in his first full season in the majors. Julio Rodriguez (60 wRC+) has been snake bitten by a 40.3% strikeout rate. Jesse Winker (78 wRC+) has had a disappointing start to 2022 after breaking out in 2020-2021 (143 and 148 wRC+ respectively).

It might be a year too early for the Mariners but they are on the right track.

The Mariners have a good young team. They will need their youngsters to adjust to the majors, but they have a lot of talent. I really like what they did this winter in bringing in some solid veteran bats without having to trade any of their best prospects.