How will the Mariners Do Against the Rangers in 2023? Their Batters, Our Pitchers
In this article, I examine the splits matchups that would occur depending on what type of players are hitting and pitching, and how they might affect the outcome of a meeting between these teams in the coming season. I also delve into the frequency with which Mariners pitchers throw various types of pitches and the strengths and weaknesses of the Rangers’ batters by type of pitch. Note: I made my best guess as to which players would pitch and be in the lineup according to the Rangers and Mariners Roster/ Depth-Charts.
The Rangers’ batters fall into three groups.
- Five of the Rangers bat almost the same whether pitches come from a right-handed pitcher or a left-handed pitcher.
- Four of the Rangers bat significantly better against left-handed pitchers.
- One of the Rangers bat somewhat better against right-handed pitchers
Looking at our starting pitchers, there are three who pitch more successfully overall to left-handed batters. Two are slightly stronger with righties. These individual stats (OPS) are for all innings pitched in the 2022 regular season.
- Luis Castillo (RHP) has an OPS (average % for hitting plus slugging percentage) of .635 for lefties and .589 for righties (slightly stronger with righties)
- Robbie Ray (LHP) has an OPS of .647 for lefties and.740 for righties (stronger with lefties)
- Logan Gilbert (RHP) has an OPS of .579 for lefties and .773 for righties (stronger with lefties)
- Marco Gonzales (LHP) has an OPS of .811 for lefties and .770 for righties (slightly stronger with righties)
- George Kirby (RHP) has an OPS of .533 for lefties and .846 for righties (much stronger with lefties)
My projected Rangers’ lineup has 2 switch hitters, 2 lefties, and 5 righties.
Observations for Mariners pitchers vs Rangers hitters
If I had the ear of the pitching coach, I would recommend putting our right-handed pitchers in the games, just so those who do much better with left-handed pitchers are unable to have that advantage. This recommendation changed, however, as I looked into types of pitches.
Types of Pitches the Mariners throw
Baseball Savant enables the viewer to see how often pitchers throw certain types of pitches. For five Mariners pitchers as a group (Ray, Castillo, Kirby, Gilbert, Gonzales) these are the pitches they threw with the following frequency in the 2022 Regular Season.
- 4-seam fastball: 41.6%
- Slider: 18.28%
- Changeup: 13.90%
- Curveball: 8.22%
- Cutter: 6.36%
- Sinker: 11.64%
Baseball Savant indicated that not one of them throws splitters. If this is incorrect, then Baseball Savant is not as savvy as I thought (haha). This is how the pitches match up with the Rangers' batters. As a group, they have the highest hitting percentage when facing curveballs and then go in descending order so that they have the lowest hitting percentage when facing sliders.
- Curveball – Marcus Semien is especially good. (.404 BA in 56 PA)
- Changeup - Nathaniel Lowe stands out. (.370 BA in 56 PA)
- 4-seam Fastball - Kyle Seager's brother, Corey, hits this pitch well (.280 BA in 190 PA)
The Rangers’ batters are most likely to hit the curveballs and changeups that the Mariners’ pitchers throw, only about 20 percent of the time, cumulatively. The Mariners’ pitchers do throw the 4-seam fastball 40 percent of the time but do not throw the splitter at all. The three pitches that get lower results for the Rangers (the sinker, the cutter, and the slider) are thrown by the Mariners’ pitchers at 12 percent, 18 percent, and 6 percent, respectively. I think that the advantage here goes to the Mariners' pitchers.
My first thought was that right-handed pitchers would ideally fit into the Mariners rotation for the Rangers. But I noticed that Robbie Ray (LHP) infrequently throws the pitches that the Rangers like to hit and more frequently throws the pitches they do not hit as often. Our pitchers did well against the Rangers last season. Kirby won all games he pitched; Gilbert and Ray each lost one; and Gonzales won half. Castillo did not pitch to the Rangers.
Of course, statistics from the previous season predict only so much. There are so many more factors that go into a game’s outcome!