That last series went exactly how I expected it would in terms of results. I didn’t anticipate losing Corey Kluber to a broken arm due to a line drive. So that’s unfortunate. But time waits for no one, and the Indians press on into the season with a visit from the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have been doing well this season, and they’d be atop the AL West if it weren’t for those pesky Houston Astros; that being said, the Mariners are only 0.5 games out of first place. It’s been a tough stretch for the fish as of late, however, as they split a four-game set with the Rangers before losing two games to the Cubs.
When you add it all up, how do the Mariners look this season?
2019 Seattle Mariners
The last time the Tribe faced the Mariners, their offense was one of the best in baseball. Despite cooling off significantly, that still holds true. The Mariners are the second best offense in all of baseball by wRC+, trailing only the Houston Astros. Their pitching is about the same as well (i.e. not very good). Despite being on a four game slide, the Mariners can still put up a lot of runs.
Friday, May 3 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (v. Shane Bieber)
Oddly enough, the Tribe will face the same three starters in the same order as they did the first time they played the Mariners, starting with Yusei Kikuchi. They did alright against him in the previous series, scratching across 3 runs in 6 innings. Overall this season, it’s been a struggle for Kikuchi to find consistent success in his first season in the big leagues. In his 33.2 innings pitched, he’s allowed 17 earned runs while walking 8 and striking out 25 (ERA+ 93). His most recent start came on April 26 against the Texas Rangers; in that game, Kikuchi went just 1.0 inning as the “opener” and didn’t give up any hits, walks, or runs and notched a pair of strikeouts. He’s also been getting some tips from a familiar face.
Saturday, May 4 4:10 p.m. ET: RHP Mike Leake (v. Carlos Carrasco)
The Indians will hopefully find more success this time around against Mike Leake. In the first series, the Tribe only scored 2 runs in 6 innings against Leake. Unfortunately for Leake, the issues that have plagued him all season (traffic on the bases and home runs) seem to have gotten worse since the last time he faced the Indians. In 34.1 innings this season, Leake has allowed 19 earned runs while walking 7 and striking out 29 (ERA+ 85). His most recent start came on April 27 against the Rangers; in that game, Leake went 5.0 innings and allowed 5 earned runs (9 total) on 10 hits while walking 1 and striking out 4.
Sunday, May 5 1:10 p.m. ET: RHP Erik Swanson (v. Trevor Bauer)
Erik Swanson has been dreadful this season. After a poor relief appearance to start the year, he’s had one good start (against Cleveland, no less) and then two terrible ones. Against the Tribe, he gave up just the 1 run in 6 innings of work. But the rest of the year has not been kind; in 17.2 innings of work, Swanson has allowed 13 earned runs while walking 2 and striking out 14 (ERA+ 65). His most recent start came on April 28 against the Rangers; in that game, Swanson went just 4.0 innings and allowed 6 earned runs (9 total) on 11 hits while walking no one and striking out 2.
- 1B/DH Daniel Vogelbach: Yep, he’s still destroying baseballs. When we last saw the Mariners, Vogelbach had an OPS of 1.451; now it’s cooled to a mediocre 1.151. #Scrub. He’s doing it with a slash line of .297/.448/.703 across 96 plate appearances (wRC+ 205). You would think that would have been good enough to garner AL Player of the Month honors, but those instead went to Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox. But make no mistake about it: Vogelbach continues to mash. What’s scary is that this may be the new normal for him. When we last faced off against Vogelbach, he had a ballooned BABIP of .421. Now? It’s .298, which is just 27 points above his career mark. It also helps that he is walking 20.8% of the time, so even when he’s not smashing baseballs all over the field, he’s still finding a way to get on base.
- C Omar Narvaez: In his first season with the Mariners, Omar Narvaez is off to a fantastic start after just a month of baseball. All of his numbers seem to be trending in the right direction (except for his strikeout rate). Overall, he’s slashing .291/.386/.488 across 101 plate appearances (wRC+ 142). He currently has a BABIP right in line with his career mark, so don’t expect this production to dip too significantly.
- 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion: Hey we know that guy! The first year in Seattle has been kind to Edwin so far as he’s slashing .231/.372/.471 across 129 plate appearances (wRC+ 135). For comparison, his wRC+ for the two years he was in Cleveland was 130 in 2017 and 115 in 2018. He’s walking and striking out at a higher rate than normal, but it hasn’t stopped him from taking the parrot for a ride 8 times already this season. And Edwin’s BABIP is almost 50 points below his career mark, so there’s an argument to be made that he could be even better going forward. I wish him all the best, just not this weekend.
These Seattle bats are scary
Seattle currently has 8 every day players who are all hitting at worst above average and at best at Hall of Fame levels. Tom Murphy, who’s only played in 9 games, has the second highest wRC+ on the team, so even their backup players are hitting the ball well.
These Cleveland arms are scary
That being said, the Cleveland pitching staff was able to keep the Mariner bats in check last time around, holding them to just 6 runs total throughout the series. With Kluber and Clevinger out, the Tribe will send their three best pitchers to face off against the Mariners this weekend. If anyone can cool the Seattle bats down, it’ll be the law firm of Bauer, Bieber & Carrasco.
Speaking of Cleveland arms, let’s protect the remaining ones
It may be my own personal bias since I watch mainly Cleveland Indians games, but it seems like our pitchers are constantly getting hit with comeback line drives. And they usually result in our pitchers getting sidelined at key moments in the season/postseason. It’s only May, so most injuries will have time to heal before October, but I’m not sure how many more hits this rotation can take before it implodes upon itself. Thankfully, we’ve thought of a solution:
Is there anything stopping the Indians from placing two fielders directly in front of the pitching mound to deflect come-backers? Asking for a friend.— Let's Go Tribe (@LetsGoTribe) May 2, 2019
Seattle Mariners roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Mariners?
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