Mariners’ Current Record:
74-59, third place in the AL West and five and a half games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot. Since the A’s and Mariners last met, the Mariners have gone 4-7 while playing against the NL West and Astros, having most recently lost three games in a row, including a two game sweep at the hands of the Padres.
Mitch Haniger - CF
Robinson Cano - 2B
Jean Segura - SS
Nelson Cruz - DH
Denard Span - LF
Kyle Seager - 3B
Ben Gamel - RF
Mike Zunino - C
Dee Gordon - 2B
Probable Starting Pitchers:
Wade LeBlanc - LHP
Mike Leake - RHP
James Paxton - LHP
Felix Hernandez - RHP
Recent Bullpen Usage:
Apart from a couple of longer relief appearances from one guy over each of the last two days, the Mariners’ bullpen has been entirely unused the last three days. Perhaps there may be some rust that key pitchers will have to shake off.
One would probably scoff at a highly reputable Mariners’ lineup batting Denard Span fifth while in the middle of a push for a playoff spot, but over the last month, Span’s nine extra base hits are third on the team, and his slugging percentage of .549 during that time period confirm those results. Mitch Haniger has hit twelve doubles over his last twenty seven games played.
Robinson Cano hasn’t given the Mariners’ lineup the shot in the arm that it needed in his return. The second baseman has an OBP below .300 in thirteen games since his return from suspension and has only one home run and three doubles to show on offense. Speedster Dee Gordon has had a miserable time trying to reach base lately, with only four stolen bases over the last month and he has been relegated to the bottom of the lineup.
Mike Leake has been having a strong recent stretch on the mound, with just two walks compared to twenty five strikeouts over his last five starts. The back of the Mariners bullpen has been strong as well, as Alex Colome, Adam Warren, and Edwin Diaz have given up a combined seven runs over their last thirty two innings pitched.
Marco Gonzales was getting terrible results on the mound before finding himself being placed on the 10-day DL, having given up twenty three runs in his last twenty innings pitched. Zack Duke has continued to struggle since being traded to the Mariners, and the Mariners’ bullpen still lacks a dependable lefty for late game matchups.
The Mariners are dinged up like any other team, but getting healthy. Gonzales isn’t expected to be gone for long, and while James Paxton had been out of action recently he is likely to return to the field on Saturday.
* * *
Losing two out of three to Houston wasn’t ideal, but wasn’t backbreaking. All in all, the A’s played roughly twenty four strong innings in their final series against their division rivals, with only three particularly egregious frames doing their part to sink the team. The bullpen continued to show that it can support the pitching staff through any and all adversity, and with rosters due to expand in a few days, the bullpen will have even more arms that can be used even more liberally. Any stretch of baseball where the team plays twenty games in twenty days is going to be tough, but this series has the potential to put the Mariners away for good, and it would sure be nice to pick up as many wins as possible before squaring up against New York next week.
Game #135: Thursday, August 30th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLB.tv
Frankie Montas vs Wade LeBlanc
Montas is returning to the big league club after several lukewarm weeks in Nashville with the Sounds. Montas caught fire early on in the season as the A’s started their amazing playoff run, but showed signs of fading during the dog days of summer. Montas is needed now more than ever in the season’s final month, and hopefully he can rise to the occasion.
Game #136: Friday, August 31st, 7:05 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLB.tv
Mike Fiers vs Mike Leake
Fiers has been the best starting pitcher on the A’s since his arrival, having not allowed more than two runs in any of his starts with his new team. He is one of the few pitchers remaining on the A’s who can be trusted to work with a longer leash and save the bullpen’s arms.
Game #137: Saturday, September 1st, 6:05 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLB.tv
Daniel Mengden vs James Paxton
Mengden pitched solidly with the A’s for the season’s opening months, but was sidetracked by injuries and lost his rotation spot to veteran competition as the spring shifted to summer. He has been biding his time in Triple A, however, and reasserted himself on the big league club with a dominant appearance out of the bullpen versus the Astros on Monday. Unlike early in the season, injuries may keep help to keep Mengden in the rotation throughout the postseason.
Game #138: Sunday, September 2nd, 1:05 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLB.tv
Edwin Jackson vs Felix Hernandez
It didn’t take too long for King Felix to make it back into the Mariners’ rotation, even if injuries necessitated the move. He is still far from the pitcher he once was, but it is nice to see him in the role he has always been in. Edwin Jackson has faltered in his last couple of starts, but has also pitched better than the end results would otherwise indicate.