Fresh off of a series win against the Los Angeles Angles, the Mariners will square off against another LA team, this time might be a little bit more of a challenge, though. They will go up against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who own the 4th best record in all of baseball. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Max Muncy lead a high-powered offense that is 2nd in baseball in runs scored. The Mariners pitching will be tested this series and will need some big performances from their young pitching with George Kirby, Bryce Miller and Logan Gilbert taking the mound.
Game 1 - George Kirby (10-9, 3.48 ERA) vs Bobby Miller (9-3, 3.98 ERA)
This series will be full of pitching duels as game 1 is no different. With 2 up and coming stars in Kirby and Miller on the mound, this one will be exciting. Kirby has struggled his last 2 starts and it doesn't get any easier. Kirby has been hit hard his last 2 outings and really his last 4 outings going back to his August 17th start in Kansas City, giving up a home run in each of those starts. Teams have found an approach of being aggressive early against Kirby as he is a strike thrower and I expect more of the same against the Dodgers. He will need to work the edges against their studs and mix up his pitches well to keep them off balance.
The offense will face a tough matchup against Bobby Miller, the Dodgers top pitching prospect coming into the year. Miller had a rough June and July but has really settled down in August and to start this month. He had a 3.21 ERA in August, walking just under 3 per 9, but only striking out a tick over 6 per 9 during that time. Miller doesn't have spectacular strikeout numbers or whiff rates, but he pitches to contact and has a plus fastball with 99 percentile velo that will generate swing and misses. Miller is aggressive in the zone and will not help the Mariners with free baserunners.
The Mariners bats will need to get pitches to drive and look to make him pay on mistakes. I think they need to look for Miller to make mistakes with his slider as hitters are slugging .458 against it on the year compared to .400 against his sinker and .411 against his fastball. He throws his fastball and sinker a combined 47.7% of the time and the slider 18.2% of the time, so the Mariners will get their chances, but Miller loves his fastball, as he should, it is a very good fastball.
Game 2 - Bryce Miller (8-5, 4.05 ERA) vs Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 2.61 ERA)
Speaking of good fastballs, the Mariners will trot out Bryce Miller in Game 2. Miller has impressed during his rookie campaign, but go roughed up his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays. Miller will need to be his best in this one if the Mariners are going to have a chance. He will face his toughest test of the year with the Dodgers, and the Dodgers will send out their franchise icon in Clayton Kershaw. With the day off Thursday, the bullpen will be rested.
Hopefully Kirby can go 6 innings to secure the win and force Servais to only have to use 3 arms, because they will be called upon in this game. If Miller can give you 5 innings of 2 run ball, take it and run! Let the bullpen work the rest and hope that your offense can scratch out a couple against Kershaw and the Dodgers pen.
Scratching out a run or 2 against Kershaw is all you can ask for of the Mariners. Kershaw has been in prime Kershaw fashion over his last 7 starts, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA. During that stretch, Kershaw isn't striking out guys like he usually does, but make no mistake about it, he is elite. He is striking out almsot 9 and a half guys per 9 this year while walking less than 3 guys per 9. This will be the toughest matchup for the Mariners of this series and, like I said,
They will need to score when they get their chances. Kershaw versus righties is giving up a .401 slugging percentage and a miniscule .250 slugging percentage against lefties. I expect a very right-handed heavy lineup with Moore, Caballero/Haggerty manning the keystone and a corner outfield spot. With guys like Rojas, Canzone and maybe even Kelenic on the bench.
Game 3 - Logan Gilbert (13-5, 3.62 ERA) vs TBD
Logan Gilbert has arguably been the Mariners best pitcher since mid-June, going 9-1 with a 3.04 ERA over 15 starts. He is dominating hitters with his above average fastball and newly developed splitter. He has been one of the better surprises of the year for the Mariners. I expect more of the same for Gilbert, even against a tough lineup in the Dodgers. Gilbert has been tested against some very good offense this year, like the Astros, Padres, a surprising Reds lineup and has been rather good. Hopefully the Mariners are playing for a series win in this game, at the very least, and having someone who has been as good as Gilbert has been, is all you can ask for.
The Dodgers currently don't have a start listed, but going backward here it could be either Lancy Lynn or possibly, the new call-up, Gavin Stone. Mariners fans should hope for Gavin Stone as he was absolutely destroyed in his first start since May 28th. He has given up 28 runs over 23 1/3 innings and only struck out 12. Lynn has struggled as well, though, he has a better track record. He hs a 4.6 ERA over 47 Dodger innings. He doesn't walk many guys (2.49 BB/9) but he sure doesn't strike out very many either (5.94 K/9) since his time with the Dodgers. Either way, the Mariners offense will have an opportunity to bury the Dodgers pitching in this one. It would be wise to get on them early and comfort Gilbert against a Dodgers lineup that could erupt at any moment.
The Mariners were able to salvage a series win against the Angels, putting less pressure on winning a very tough series against the Dodgers. Returning home and having 2 of your top 3 starters seems like a recipe for a series win and we hope it will be, but with the dangerous Dodger lineup and having to face Kershaw, this will be a dogfight. The Mariners must be tough, string together good at-bats, play clean baseball and make their pitches in big situations. All of these are possible, but it will take a very good string of baseball games for the Mariners to head to Oakland going 4-2 against the Los Angeles teams. Could this be a preview of a potential World Series matchup? One can hope! Go Mariners!