Thursday, April 11 9:10: RHP Felix Hernandez vs. RHP Justin Grimm
Friday, April 12 9:10: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma vs. RHP Yu Darvish
Saturday, April 13 8:10: LHP Joe Saunders vs. RHP Alexi Ogando
Sunday, April 14 3:10: RHP Brandon Maurer vs. RHP Nick Tepesch
AL West Standings as of 4/11/13:
AL West Standings
Not even the SB Nation standings data widget is willing to recognize the Astros. (They're 3-6, by the by. P.S. LOL Angels.)
As you all perhaps remember, or in case you've forgotten, the Rangers did not win the American League West division last season. And though the Rangers led the division for 170+ days, one of the only days they did not find themselves in first place was the final day of the season. Hence the "did not" in "did not win the American League West division." That's a MLB record, by the way and it's a rather dubious one.
We know what happened from there. The Rangers, as not-division-champions, were the first victims of Bud Selig's one-game Wild Card Carnival of Manufactured Drama. The reason to bring this up is simply because I hope the taste in the mouth of the Rangers is as bitter as our own when unable to force thoughts of last season down deep. Mainly because, in the AL West last season, the Rangers went 27-30.
That included going 10-9 against these Mariners who finished in last place last season. I don't think it's unfair to say, seeing as the division came down to a game, that play within the division cost the Rangers the West in 2012. To win it in 2013, they're going to have to do much better. A good way to get heading in that direction would be a strong showing in this series in Seattle where they went 4-5 last season.
As for the Mariners, they're still trying their damnedest to find young positional players who can live up to expectations and turn around an offense that has kept them in the AL West cellar for four of the last five seasons. As a franchise, the Mariners have only had two winnings seasons in the last decade. It's been rough in the Emerald City.
After struggling to find those core members that drive an offense in an environment that was harsh to hitters, the Mariners enacted a plan to jump-start their prowess at the plate by moving the fences in at Safeco Field. So far, there's been some positive results, if positive results means hitting dingers.
In 2012, there was 116 home runs hit at Safeco Field between the Mariners and their opponents. That was 1.43 dongs per contest. So far, in the hilarious sample of three games, there's been 13 home runs. That's 4.33 per game. Three games isn't much to go on, but if Safeco has opened up a little, the Mariners might be closer to realizing the dream of putting together a Major League team that scores runs.
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the sluggin' Seattle Mariners:
- Justin Grimm: (2012 stats, 14 innings, 2 starts) 1-1, 8.36 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, .438 BABIP, 46.6% LOB, 2.81 FIP, 3.24 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - 2013 debut
- Felix Hernandez: 1-1, 7.07 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, .205 BABIP, 75.5% LOB, 3.11 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, 0.3 WAR - Last two starts: 4 runs allowed in 14.0 innings
Advantage: Felix Hernandez. The advantage goes to Felix Hernandez. Justin Grimm might someday be a serviceable starting pitcher, but even on that day, you'd still rather have Felix Hernandez if given the choice. However, as we all know, one of the many charming things about baseball is, for any one game, Grimm and the Texas Rangers can win a game against Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners.
- Yu Darvish: 2-0, 13.17 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, .269 BABIP, 75.0% LOB, 1.28 FIP, 2.07 xFIP, 0.7 WAR - Last two starts: 3 runs allowed in 13.2 innings
- Hisashi Iwakuma: 1-0, 6.43 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, .088 BABIP, 100.0% LOB, 4.47 FIP, 3.66 xFIP, 0.1 WAR - Last two start: 4 runs allowed in 14.0 innings
Advantage: Give me Yu Darvish against most anyone. Even though the Mariners were something of an unexplained nightmare for Darvish last year. In Yu's first three starts against the Mariners, totaling 16 innings, he allowed 17 runs. It wasn't until his final start against Seattle that he was able to handle them (7 IP, 1 run on 2 hits). Perhaps coincidental, perhaps not, that final start was the first one after Seattle had traded Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro terrorized Darvish in '12, collecting a double and a triple among 6 hits in 11 ABs. Ichiro is in New York now so perhaps the Seattle curse on Yu was lifted.
Hisashi Iwakuma didn't fare much better against the Rangers. In 20.1 innings against Texas last season, Iwakuma allowed 12 runs. It's not Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters vs Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles but it should still be pretty good.
- Alexi Ogando: 2-0, 9.26 K/9, 3.09 BB/9, .233 BABIP, 90.9% LOB, 2.08 FIP, 3.14 xFIP, 0.5 WAR - Last two starts: 1 run allowed in 11.2 innings
- Joe Saunders: 1-1, 6.97 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, .394 BABIP, 77.8% LOB, 3.08 FIP, 3.35 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last two starts: 4 runs allowed in 10.1 innings
Advantage: I would give the advantage to Alexi Ogando in this game because I think he's a better pitcher than Joe Saunders. I think many pitchers - maybe most pitchers - are better pitchers than Joe Saunders. But Joe Saunders once beat the Rangers at The Ballpark in a game where he was matched up against Yu Darvish. So, if ever there were an example for why giving an advantage to single-game pitching match-ups is an exercise in futility, that would be the first example I'd go with. Anyone in the world vs Joe Saunders. Sometimes in baseball, Joe Saunders wins. I hope the Rangers score 20+ runs in this game.
- Nick Tepesch: 1-0, 6.14 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, .200 BABIP, 85.7% LOB, 2.98 FIP, 3.39 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last start: 1 run allowed in 7.1 innings
- Brandon Maurer: 0-2, 4.05 K/9, 1.35 BB/9, .481 BABIP, 35.2% LOB, 7.01 FIP, 5.65 xFIP, -0.1 WAR - Last two starts: 12 runs allowed in 6.2 innings
Advantage: It's the battle of surprising rookie rotation entrants. In one corner, you have Nick Tepesch who was absolutely stellar in his Major League debut on Tuesday. In the other corner, you have Brandon Maurer who has been absolutely dreadful two starts into his big league career. Advantage: Tepesch. However, the Mariners can spoil the fun of this rookie billing by replacing Maurer with recently acquired Aaron Harang.
Seattle Mariners (4-6, 4th Place in AL West)
Rangers' 2012 Record vs. Seattle: 10-9 (4-5 at Safeco Field)
Seattle's Recent Results: 1-2 home series loss against the Houston Astros
Seattle's 2012 Home Record: 40-41 (1-2 at home in 2013)
Safeco Field Park Factors (in 2012) (LHB/RHB): HR: 90/70 - Runs: 81/80
SB Nation Mariners Blog Lookout Landing
|Match-up: (as of 04/11)||Rangers||Mariners||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||11.7 (16th)||9.8 (19th)||Mike Morse for Mariner Moose|
|Base Running (RAR)||-0.1 (16th)||-0.1 (17th)||The consequences of Kinsler|
|Starters (RAR)||12.1||5.5||Yu Darvish is ours...|
|Bullpen (RAR)||3.3 (11th)||-9.2 (30th)||Egads, Mariners!|
|Defense (UZR)||1.0 (11th)||3.8 (3rd)||Brendan Ryan will be outed as a wizard|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||28.0||9.8||Rangers, duh|
Questions to Answer:
- Which is the more disappointing Mariner so far: Justin Smoak (32 wRC+), Dustin Ackley (-14 wRC+), or Jesus Montero (-31 wRC+)?
- Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I want to see Adrian Beltre test out those new fences and exact his revenge.)
- Over/Under: 135.5 home runs hit at Safeco Field this season? (Again, there were 116 home runs hit at Safeco last season.)
- What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Justin Grimm in his first start in the Majors since June 25 of last season?
- Who has fewer walks in their start on Friday: Yu Darvish or Hisashi Iwakuma?