Mariners’ season fate could be decided by weekend series

Apr 27, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager (15) gets a hit during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager (15) gets a hit during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Mariners are coming off of their first road series win of the season. The bats came to life and Seattle has now scored the most runs in the AL. Next they travel to Cleveland to face the reigning AL champion Indians.

Though apparently the Astros have already won the division, the Mariners need to start making up ground now if the race is going to be competitive in September. If they drop two of three, or even worse get swept, they dig the hole deeper, and at some point, there’s no getting out. Here’s a brief look at what to expect from this series.

Game 1

The opener features Ariel Miranda facing Carlos Carrasco. The latter has been a dominant pitcher over four starts in 2017. With a 1.65 ERA and a WHIP of 0.805, he’s been a bit of a pleasant surprise for the Indians this year after being a career 3.84/1.21 pitcher. He’s found success against the Mariners, though. He’s gone 2-1 in 19.1 career innings, maintained a 2.79 ERA, and struck out 18.

Opposing him is Miranda who has been streaky this year. In his last two starts, he went seven innings, gave up 4 hits, 0 runs, and had five strikeouts. The next outing, he didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, getting knocked for four runs, including two homers.

Prediction: The Mariners get 6 innings out of Miranda. He gives up 2 or 3 runs, looking like the good Miranda. Mariners win 4-2.

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Game 2

Yovanni Gallardo squares off against Danny Salazar in Saturday’s game. Gallardo has also struggled with his consistency this year, leading to the Mariners having a hole at the 4-5 spots in the rotation. In his four starts, he’s gone just 22.1 innings, has an ERA of 4.84, and has a WHIP of 1.56. The Mariners thankfully face a pitcher similar to Gallardo, stats-wise, in the form of Salazar.

The Indians’ righty has pitched one/third of an inning more than Gallardo this season. His ERA sits a tad lower than the M’s starter at 4.37. Their WHIPs are almost the same, with Salazar giving up 1.50 walks or hits per inning pitched. The key difference here, is in the strikeout column. Salazar boasts 36 on the season, while Gallardo only has 17. Salazar throws strikes, and if he misses the Mariners’ bats, it could be a long game.

Prediction: The Mariners continue to swing their hot bats and light Salazar up. They will need to do this though, because Gallardo will turn in another rocky start.

Game 3

This would normally be Felix’s spot, but with his injury, Chase De Jong will fill the spot and take on the Indians’ Josh Tomlin. I for one am excited to see what he does with this opportunity. He’s only pitched twice this season, so I won’t list his stats. One was the Houston game where he had them down to their last strike when Springer took him deep to win it for the Astros. The other, four innings of scoreless, one-hit ball. He has high potential in my opinion.

Sodo Mojo writer Colby Patnode suggested a different approach the Mariners could take with the Felix injury. You can find that piece here.

On the Indians’ side, Josh Tomlin has been a mess this season. In four starts, he’s only lasted 18.1 innings, and carries an ERA of 9.33. With Tomlin’s WAR of -0.6, the Mariners have to like the position they are in. That said, earlier this season the Mariners faced Wei-Yin Chin of the Marlins. He entered the game with a 7.00 ERA and almost no-hit us. So I guess that’s why you play the game.

Prediction: The Mariners take care of business and win convincingly. No matter how Seattle handles their pitching situation, they get quality work and get the win.

What does this mean?

Well, if you’ve been keeping track, I just predicted the Mariners to sweep the Indians. While hard, the Mariners probably see the Indians’ three worst pitchers. There are certainly harder paths they could have to take to get the sweep. If they do what I think they will, they will sit at 13-13, .500 for the first time this season, and honestly, I’ll take that. With a tough schedule and underperforming players, escaping April even would be a big win.

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If the Mariners can use this series to leverage some much-needed momentum, things could get really good really fast. After this series, they get three game series against the Angels and Rangers, neither of whom are above .500.

Best case scenario: Mariners sweep and make their current win streak a much longer one, propelling them back into contention.