The Mariners see the Angels for the first time in over a month…and the first time since the brawl
When the Angels come to town this Friday, it’ll be the first time the Mariners have seen them in over a month. The last time the two teams met in late June, they were virtually deadlocked, record-wise, with the Angels having lost a little of their early-season shine and the Mariners starting to fight their way out of a miserable May and June swoon—and we do mean fight, as the last time these two teams saw each other, well, you probably know what happened.
Since then, the two teams couldn’t have gone in more different directions. The Mariners have clawed their way into second place in the division and given themselves a better-than-outside chance at a Wild Card berth, and the Angels…have not done that. Things have gone very, very badly for the Angels, from 3-15 record in July and a historic team low batting average of .195, to the news that Mike Trout was diagnosed with a back injury that requires more than a working knowledge of WebMD to understand, to the eventual selling off of some of their players at the trade deadline, including starter Noah Syndergaard, signed to a one-year contract, closer Raisel Iglesias, who had just signed a four-year contract prior to this season, and young outfielder Brandon Marsh.
I’m actually not even sure who’s on the Angels anymore? Nor what the Mariners are doing with their rotation, officially? All of which is made more complicated by Saturday’s doubleheader? So take this probable pitchers list with a very large grain of salt.
Also of note: I’m doing this series preview because Jake is out this week welcoming a brand-new baby to his family. Big congratulations to Jake! But also, please excuse any and all errors as I am the “I have no idea what I’m doing dog” trying to mess around with Jake’s tables. Sorry Jake! I hope you have copies of all this stuff.
Shohei Ohtani is single-handedly holding up the Angels’ starting pitching mark while Marco is single-handedly pushing the Mariners’ down, but I think we all know those numbers aren’t as close as they look. Consider the Mariners’ edges even bigger with the trade deadline moves taken into consideration.
Putting together this table now vs. what it looked like a month ago or from the beginning of the season was wild. Not only are several Halos mainstays on the IL—Mike Trout, Matt Duffy, Anthony Rendon—several others have been sent away in trades: no more Brandon Marsh or Tyler Wade. I had to look at the box score from Thursday to even start to hazard a guess about which players might slot in where, so again, forgive me if there are mistakes. Mickey Moniak looks like he’ll be taking over for Trout in center while he’s out as Jo Adell is barely a corner outfielder, but Magneuris Sierra is in this mix too, and several other players on the roster have positional flexibility to cover some outfield. Currently, though, the Angels are just throwing stuff at the wall and sees what sticks.
Again, many apologies here, because this is Jake’s domain and I just don’t know enough about who might be starting to make the nice tables, nor how to make the nice tables. I cobbled together that list of probable starters from some Twitter-searching of the various Angels beats and fan sites. The one thing we know for sure is we’ll be seeing Patrick Sandoval to start off the series, so here’s what Jake has written about the lefty in the past:
It’s hard to figure out Patrick Sandoval. He possesses one of the best changeups in baseball with a whiff rate topping 50%. He can manipulate the pitch to generate more vertical or horizontal movement depending on what the situation calls for but the end result is usually the same: a swinging strike. He also has a pair of pretty good breaking balls with the slider being his preferred weapon against left-handed batters. The problem is his fastball. Among all four-seam fastballs thrown at least 100 times this year, his has the fourth lowest swinging strike rate of them all. That’s a big reason why his strikeout rate has fallen three points from last year despite an arsenal filled with excellent secondary weapons.
Since that writeup, Sandoval’s strikeout rate has rebounded to be right in line with his 2021 numbers, but he’s walking a hair more batters, showing his command issues still haven’t ironed themselves out. He’s also gotten extremely lucky with just a 4.9% HR/FB rate, a third of his career mark, but so far in the second rate he’s allowing a slugging mark about 100 points higher (.444) than his first-half rate, suggesting that number is due for some regression soon.
Aside from Sandoval, the Mariners won’t be seeing any other mainstays of the Angels pitching rotation: Ohtani just pitched on Wednesday, Syndergaard is gone, and Michael Lorenzen is injured. They will at some point have to contend with Reid Detmers and his curveball, as well as his propensity to check off major pitching accomplishments: he already has a no-hitter and an immaculate inning under his belt this year. Detmers was optioned to Triple-A right before the Mariners faced the Angels in late June after getting roughed up a little in his two previous starts, but he’s been strong since rejoining the club, giving up just three earned total runs in July; however, due to the ineptitude of the Angels’ offense and bullpen, he’s been handed a win in just one of those four contests.
The Mariners will also certainly see the Angels’ trade return from Atlanta for Iglesias, lefty Tucker Davidson. The 26-year-old has spent most of this season in Triple-A but will be pressed into big-league service for the Angels. Davidson doesn’t have a big fastball—91-93 MPH—but he’s able to ride it up in a way that induces soft contact. His second pitch is a slider that flashes above average but lacks consistency, and he’ll also throw a 12-6 curveball that grades as just average or slightly below. This is the kind of pitcher that shouldn’t stymie the Mariners offense, and yet so often does.
In addition to Davidson, there’s a good chance the Mariners see a fair amount of the other part of the Iglesias trade return in old friend Jesse Chavez. Touki Touissant, acquired from Atlanta in early July for cash, is listed some places as a possible starter for the doubleheader game, but the Angels had to use him on Thursday as an emergency fill-in for 4.1 innings when starter Janson Junk got lit up in 2.1 innings of work, surrendering six earned runs. That is fine by me, because I really like Touki, who played with the Peoria Javelinas in 2017, and don’t want to root against him.
The Big Picture:
Not much has changed here since the last series preview check-in, but watch out for those Orioles, sneaking up in the Wild Card race. It stinks rooting against the Orioles but sorry, Birdland, a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.