The Mariners enter the series against the New York Yankees with a record of 58-51, sitting just a game behind the Yankees while being a bit further back of the Athletics at three games. Oakland is the ultimate goal, as they are the ones holding down the final wild-card spot. The immediate goal is the Yankees, who we are set to play in a four-game series in New York.
News has come out over the last week or so that not one, but two of the Yankees starting pitchers have been placed on the COVID list. Not just any two pitchers either. It’s their top two active pitchers, Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, who will not be available during the series.
The Mariners have a great opportunity to capitalize on the Yankees misfortune.
Take a look at the four pitchers that will be taking the mound for the Yankees during each game of the series. Nestor Cortes, BULLPEN, Andrew Heaney, and Luis Gil. Meanwhile, the Mariners are throwing Tyler Anderson, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Yusei Kikuchi. I’m not turning this into a series preview, we already did that. I want to highlight how it’s a prime opportunity for the Mariners to put a lot of runs on the board and take the series against the Yankees.
Cortes has been really good, but he doesn’t go deep into games. He’s a stud long reliever but is unlikely to go past four innings. They’re following him up with an actual bullpen start (unless they call someone else up), which means we might see 14+ innings in a row of the Yankees bullpen. They’re a good pen, but that’s a tough ask of any team’s relievers.
Then there’s Andrew Heaney, who has a 6.92 ERA in his last 40.1 innings, spanning eight starts. He’s gone seven once and six twice in that span, meaning we could easily see him out after five innings, his average over that time frame. So, it’s not hard to imagine at least four more innings by their bullpen here.
Finally, it’s the youngster Luis Gil, who is just 23. With one big league start under his belt, he did go six innings, but it was just 88 pitches. He’s going to be on a pitch count, and the Mariners could force him out after 4-5 innings as well. It’s going to be a similar situation to some of Gilbert’s early-season starts, where he would be taken out earlier than you thought because the team didn’t want him throwing 25 pitches in his final inning.
That means that we could easily be seeing 22 innings from the bullpen. Honestly, it could be up to 25 innings (Cortes goes three, Heaney four, Gil four). It’s going to be a lot of pressure on their pen, and you could see some of their guys either throwing multiple games in a row or stretching out more than they are used to.
It’s a fantastic set up for the Mariners to really get the bats going for the last two months of the season. As a realist, I still expect a 2-2 split (they’re the Yankees and we’re the Mariners, it’s how it is). The optimist in me thinks 3-1 is reasonable. The Mariners fan in me is quietly saying “predict a sweep” and “They’re gonna blow the doors off them by outscoring them 34-13 this series.”
Honestly, a 3-1 series win would make sense. The opportunity is there for them to score a lot of runs, and take advantage of a tired and thin Yankees pitching staff. Wandy Peralta, Brody Koerner, and Stephen Ridings have all been called up or activated in the last few days and could try to help the Yankees. Still, I could see the Mariners putting a series amount of runs on the board this week, and having a good series against the Yankees.