Seattle Mariners Series Preview: at Toronto Blue Jays
Twice this month the Mariners have let me down against the Astros. Yesterday’s loss in particular felt like a kick in the gut and certainly gave me a brief bout of rage.
The good news is that the M’s have a great shot at getting some games back this week as they head to Toronto for a four-game set. The Mariners desperately need some wins, and the Jays have all but thrown in the towel on their season. In one of the more spectacular September implosions of the season, the Jays are 2-8 in their last 10 games, including a 6 game losing streak against division opponents. They’re 6.5 games back of the wild card now, not that it matters, because they’re poised to be the next team dropped from the playoff race with their elimination number set at 2.
This is an exceptionally important series for the M’s, a split just won’t do it here, the M’s need to outright win in their last road series of the season. Here’s how things stack up for the week in the latest installment of the Mariners series preview from Sodo Mojo.
Game one: James Paxton (6-3, 2.06 ERA) v. J.A. Happ (9-11, 4.35 ERA)
Paxton continues to be a workhorse for the M’s after returning to the rotation in August. In his 9 starts since returning from injury, Paxton has averaged just shy of 6 innings per start. Pitching less than 6 only twice. Paxton pitched well enough for the win in his last start against the Angels, but the Mariners dropped the game via a 5-0 shutout.
The wheels have fallen off a bit for Happ in his last few starts, as he looks to avoid losing 4 straight. His last start in Baltimore was forgettable, where he gave up 5 runs on 8 hits. Happ faced the Mariners at Safeco in August, where he went 6 innings and tool a 6-3 loss as part of a three game sweep.
Game two: Felix Hernandez(14-5, 2.07 ERA) v. R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.82 ERA)
Felix continues to lead the AL in ERA at 2.07. Felix is in a three game stretch of no-decision games where he should have walked away with a win. Felix was right on in his last start in LA, he crushed 7.0 innings of shutout ball, giving up only 3 hits to the AL West pennant winners. The last time Felix saw the Blue Jays he threw a 7 inning win in an 11-1 rout at Safeco.
The other Cy Young winner here is knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Dickey is rolling through the end of the season and is in search of his 5th straight win. Dickey is 7-3 in his home starts this season, but the Mariners saw him well enough the last time they saw him. They got 7 hits off of him through 6 innings.
Game three: Taijuan Walker (2-2, 3.00 ERA) v. Mark Buehrle (12-10, 3.53 ERA)
Tai Walker picked up his first MLB win since June in Houston over the weekend. Both of this season’s wins have been against the Astros in Houston. Walker is picking up the slot of Roenis Elias, who has been shut down for the remainder of the season.
Buehrle started the season as one of Toronto’s better starters, but has fallen off in the second half of the season. He is 2-4 in 12 starts since the All Star Break. Opponents are batting .336 over that stretch and his ERA has ballooned to 5.19. Buehrle is hoping to make 6 innings on Wednesday and cap off his 14th straight 200 inning season.
Chris Young (12-9, 3,65 ERA) v. TBA
It looks like Chris Young is being moved to the bullpen ahead of his Thursday start. Lloyd stated that he might be running out of gas in his comeback season, and hopefully he can get some meaningful work in from the pen. No word yet on who will be taking the mound for his start.
This spot would normally be Marcus Stroman‘s, but his recent suspension means that he’ll be watching this one from the sidelines. According to Shi Davidi, the Jays will likely start Todd Redmond in his place and utilize most of the bullpen to cover the start.
- Jays starter Marcus Stroman (11-6, 3,77 ERA), has been Toronto’s hottest starter since the All Star break, going 8-4 in 12 starts including two complete games. Thankfully for the M’s, Stroman was suspended for throwing at Caleb Joseph‘s head last week and will be ineligible until Saturday.
- The Mariners are 3-0 against the Jays this season after a sweep at home in mid-August. At that time both teams were in a fierce wild card battle and the M’s may have started the Blue Jays’ eventual collapse.
- The rotation is now set up for next weekend’s closing series against the Angels. We should be seeing Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and King Felix to close out the season, marking the best case scenario for the M’s in a series that has the potential to be a postseason decider.
- Earlier I mentionned that Elias was shut down for the season with an elbow issue. The latest from the Mariners is that he could return if his MRI results come back with positive news today. Lloyd has said that Elias likely would come back in a bullpen role rather than as a starter.
- Blue Jays’ home run machine Jose Bautista notched his 34th homer of the season against the Yankees. He also capped his 101st RBI and 102nd walk of the season, becoming only the third Blue Jay to accomplish that feat (M’s fans may remember that John Olerud accomplished the same thing back in 1993).
Wild Card Roundup
The importance of this series can’t be understated. With only 7 games left in the season, the time is now to earn that playoff birth. The Jays are mathematically still in this race. so they will be tough to beat. Moreover, the M’s squandered a golden opportunity over the weekend when both Oakland and Kansas City lost, giving the M’s a chance to make up a game on both clubs. Instead, the M’s dropped two straight to the Astros.
Kansas City and Detroit continue to flip flop for that top spot in the AL Central, though the Tigers got the best of the Royals in a three game series over the weekend. As those two duke it out for a pass, the A’s and M’s are locked in a fight for second in the West, something that is looking more and more like a playoff birth.
- The Tigers are hosting the White Sox for a three game series this week. While the White Sox haven’t been exceptionally good lately, they are coming off of a series win against the Rays where they outscored Tampa 15-11, including a 10-5 blowout.
- Oakland is in for their most important series of the season this week as they face the Angels in a three game series at home. The Angels can’t be caught for the AL West pennant, but these games are obviously important to secure a Wild Card birth. The Angels took a series loss over the weekend to the Rangers.
- The Royals lost a big series over the weekend to the Tigers, and they’re immediately on the road to face the Indians. Cleveland is still mathematically in this hunt, and a sweep by the Indians this week would put them right back in the hunt. Expect Cleveland to throw everything they have at the Royals this week.
- The Yanks are hoping for some serious upsets this week to keep their hopes alive. They have their work cut out for them though, as they’re hosting the AL East winners for four games this week. The Orioles are hot right now, going 7-3 in their last 10.