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Series Preview: Seattle Mariners @ Texas Rangers - Overture

The Rangers open their defense of the AL West title against the Seattle Mariners

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers have a good team. The Rangers have a pretty deep team. Jon Daniels has built a team that, health permitting, doesn't have terribly many holes in it. The lineup is pretty deep, if the aging guys can keep father time at bay. There are guys on the farm almost ready to be harvested if and when the older guys do show signs of wear.

The biggest question this spring was about who would be the fifth starter. That's a good sign when your biggest question mark is your fifth starter. That fifth starter will likely be replaced with Yu Darvish in a few weeks. The bullpen, my lord, the bullpen. The Rangers' relief corp has a chance to be one of the best in franchise history.

Maybe the Rangers aren't as good as we expect and they'll fall more middle of the pack just as the projection systems seem to think they will. Maybe Martin Perez isn't mature enough for a breakthrough season. Maybe Derek Holland missed his peak and is now on the decline. Maybe Yu isn't quite YU when he returns.

Maybe the fifth starter question becomes a disaster when Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and company prove insufficient depth. Maybe the bullpen is a bullpen and, knowing bullpens are volatile, nothing goes as planned out of the 'pen.

Maybe Prince Fielder is a really, really, poor man's Tony Gwynn getting paid like a rich man's Anthony Rizzo. Maybe Won Mi Ha won't find the right metaphor to reach Shin-Soo Choo if he gets off to a slow start this season. Maybe Rougned Odor is more April 2015 Rougie than August 2015 Rougie.

The one thing I do know, above all else, is that Adrian Beltre will do his best to drag this team, kicking and screaming if he has to, to the finish line. This could very well be the final season we see Beltre in a Rangers uniform. That alone means this is the start of something big.

Toss out the maybes and the projections and the questions and just enjoy it, I say. It's a long, long season but every time #29 suits up for your team, it's a gift. Win or lose, we get to watch Adrian Beltre.

Let's treasure The Treasure in 2016.

Series Schedule:

Monday, April 4 3:05 pm: RHP Felix Hernandez vs LHP Cole Hamels

Tuesday, April 5 7:05 pm: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma vs LHP Martin Perez

Wednesday, April 6 1:05 pm: LHP Wade Miley vs RHP Colby Lewis

Seattle Strengths:

Well, for one, they have Kyle Seager who has never not hit a game-winning home run against the Rangers. They also have King Felix Hernandez who got sick of losing to the Rangers and went 5-0 against them last season. Seattle has a pretty good rotation in Hernandez/Iwakuma/Miley/Taijuan Walker/Nate Karns with James Paxton waiting in the wings.

The Mariners got an outstanding season out of Nelson Cruz (6th highest wRC+ of 158) last year, but Robinson Cano didn't live up to his enormous contract in his second season in Seattle (2.1 fWAR). Cano's second half was much better (wRC+ of 157 in the second half) and he is apparently fully healthy after issues in the first half last season. A full year bounce-back from Cano is a must for the Mariners.

The Mariners also improved defensively with the acquisition of Leonys Martin as Martin has been one of the better defenders with the glove in center field over the last several years, as we can attest. One player to watch is SS Ketel Marte. Marte had two solid months with Seattle to end the 2015 season (1.7 fWAR in 57 games) and is now entrenched at short as the starter. He could be what Brad Miller wasn't.

Seattle Weaknesses:

The main weakness of the Mariners is that they are the Seattle Mariners. You know what I mean.

Go Rangers!

Seattle Mariners (76-86, 4th Place in AL West in 2015)

Rangers' 2015 Record vs. Seattle: 7-12 (booooo)

Seattle's Recent Results: Being the Mariners, mostly

Seattle's 2015 Road Record: 40-41

The Ballpark Park Factors (in 2015) (LHB/RHB): HR: 97/100 - Runs: 109/105

SB Nation Mariners Blog: Lookout Landing

Match-up: (as of 04/04) Rangers Mariners Advantage
Batting (RAR) 0.0 (1st) 0.0 (30th) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Base Running (RAR) 0.0 (1st) 0.0 (30th) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Starters (RAR) 0.0 0.0 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Bullpen (RAR) 0.0 (1st) 0.0 (30th) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Defense (UZR) 0.0 (1st) 0.0 (30th) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Overall (UZR + RAR) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Questions to Answer:

  • Yay or Nay: The Rangers win the 2016 World Series?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Rougie all day and all night.)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 game winning hits by Kyle Seager in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Cole Hamels in his first Opening Day start as a Texas Ranger?
  • Where do the Seattle Mariners finish in the AL West standings in 2016?