The Mariners have just completed a California road trip consisting of 3 games in San Diego followed by 3 games against Oakland. These two teams are not only leading their respective divisions, but San Diego and Oakland represent some of the best baseball being played. After the team took the series in Oakland 2-1, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Mariners avenging losing the first series against the Texas Rangers earlier this month.
They found their offense, played some incredible defense, and got another quality start from Yusei Kikuchi. While the Mariners appear to be correcting their ways, the Rangers sit at dead last in the AL West and were just swept in a 2-game series against the Angels.
While the Mariners and Rangers are separated by 1.5 games in the AL West standings, the Seattle Mariners have momentum and confidence on their side as they roll out their best pitchers in the rotation for this upcoming series.
Mariners vs. Rangers: Pitching Matchups
Game 1: Flexen (4-2, 5.09 ERA) vs. Allard
Game 2: Sheffield (3-4, 5.11 ERA) vs. Lyles (2-3, 5.94 ERA)
Game 3: Dunn (1-2, 3.40 ERA) vs. Foltynewicz (1-4, 4.53 ERA)
Game 4: Kikuchi (2-3, 4.02 ERA) vs. Yang (0-2, 5.47 ERA)
The Mariners are throwing the top of their rotation against Texas, which must come as a relief for Mariners fans looking for this team to develop some momentum. The Mariners haven’t won back-to-back series since mid-April, which would help the team re-establish themselves going into June.
Chris Flexen and Justus Sheffield both represent almost identical ERA+ values of 80 and 79, respectively. Both pitchers had difficult outings against San Diego that they’ll look to correct over the next two days. Justin Dunn, on the other hand, has quietly become the Mariners’ top pitcher.
He has yet to allow more than 3ER in a single start and he has a team-high ERA+ of 119. His record is indicative of a lack of offensive support, especially when you consider that he only allowed 1ER in 5IP against San Diego. Kikuchi closes out the series after one of his best starts against Oakland, where he went 6.0IP and only allowed 1ER on 4H.
Mariners vs. Rangers: Getting Back on Track
Given the pitching matchups, combined with the high level the defense is playing, the only variable left to consider is if the offense (particularly at the top of the lineup) can continue to produce. While the bottom third of the batting order has continued to struggle to generate any sort of offensive support, the top (2-6) of the batting order carried the Mariners over the course of this past road trip.
The combined output from France, Lewis, Seager, Crawford, and Haniger will need to continue for the Mariners to win another series. The long-term concern regarding lack of productivity at the bottom of the lineup still lingers, but perhaps this series is exactly what that group needs: a three-game series at home against the team currently at the bottom of the division.