Mariners fans, since back when the team went to Yankee stadium, have had a hope in their pocket that this could be the year. With what many were saying was the easiest remaining schedule in all of baseball, the M’s were in a great place to improve their record against what was, on paper, an easy road. It’s not all “easy” though, as they are about to face their toughest remaining stretch, and what could be argued as the best team in baseball in the Atlanta Braves.
Things could’ve definitely been tougher for the Mariners if they had to face one of this year’s breakout stars in Spencer Strider. That mustachioed menace has been dominant this year… but won’t see Seattle as he just threw recently. Who will the Mariners be facing? Let’s start off by looking at the pitching matchups in the series.
Mariners vs Braves Preview: Pitching Matchups
Friday, September 9th @ 6:40 PM PT: Robbie Ray vs Charlie Morton
Saturday, September 10th @ 6:10 PM PT: George Kirby vs Max Fried
Sunday, September 11th @ 1:10 PM PT: Marco Gonzales vs Jake Odorizzi
Now, Odorizzi isn’t confirmed for Sunday’s game, but with what I had been seeing online, it seems like he is the one in line to make that start. If so, it’s going to feel more like an old-school game with him and Marco on the mound.
To start off, though, we have Morton and Ray, two guys who love to strike people out. I don’t know that it is going to happen, but if we saw both of them hit double-digit strikeouts, it wouldn’t surprise me. On the season, Ray has done it seven times and Morton has done it five times. both have K rates over 10/9, so we could be in for a strikeout festival tonight.
This obviously means that we will see a total of 7 strikeouts from them, because… BASEBALL!
Saturday’s matchup is the “young guy” matchup. Fried vs Kirby. I’m looking forward to this one a ton, as Kirby has been hot lately with a 2.18 ERA in his last eight starts, having walked just five guys in 41.1 innings while striking out 47. Fried, younger than Morton or Odorizzi by quite a bit, has been a stud all year. 2.48 ERA, just 8 HR, and a FIP of 2.49 in 163.1 IP. He’s been even better in his last 16 starts, with a 2.11 ERA, 2.22 FIP, and 3 HR in 102.1 IP.
Mariners vs Braves Preview: Julio Rodriguez and Ronald Acuna Steal the Show
Normally, I preview the hitters that I’m interested in seeing in the series. This time around, though, it’s different. We get to see two of the most exciting players in baseball, and they just so happen to be 21 and 24 years old. Julio Rodriguez and Ronald Acuna Jr.
Julio is the frontrunner for ROY in the American League, with a shot at a 30/30 season. He’s already a 5.0 WAR (T-15th in MLB), playing good defense in center, is an All-Star, and is making a claim to be the face of baseball.
Meanwhile, Acuna is making a claim as the best PLAYER in baseball. At least, for someone who doesn’t pitch and hit. After blowing out his knee last year, he’s back with a vengeance. His SLG is down a bit, but he has been making a huge impact on an Atlanta team that is even hotter than the Mariners. He’s already got a 100/100 HR/SB on his resume and might be the only other player in baseball outside of Julio capable of a 40/40 season… which he barely missed in 2019 at age 21.
Mariners vs Braves Preview: Final thoughts
I wish that I didn’t already have plans for all three days because this is the matchup, more than any other in all of baseball, that I want to see in person. Ever since I was a kid, my “other” team has been the Braves. Can you fault me? I love defense and pitching, so watching the Braves throughout the 90s was a ton of fun. Klesko, Lopez, Jones, Chipper, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz… it was a blast. I loved them then and still do.
Is it really that far-fetched to hope that at some point in the next decade, this is a World Series matchup? I can only dream, and don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Shoot, the Mariners still need to make the playoffs first before I can start fantasizing about them making their first-ever World Series appearance. For now, let’s just enjoy this, hopefully, incredible matchup during a beautiful weekend of weather in the Northwest. Go Mariners!