Series Preview: Angels Return Home For Four-Game Set With Mariners
MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners find themselves at very different spots in the standings. The Halos are likely to be the next American League team mathematically eliminated from the postseason. At 61-82, they are 19 games back of a wild card spot with 19 games remaining in their season.

The Mariners, meanwhile, currently hold the top Wild Card spot in the AL at 80-62. Despite a relatively lackluster offense, their pitching has allowed them to all but officially secure their place in the 2022 playoffs. If the postseason started today, they would host the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card round.

So as the two teams prepare to face off in a four-game weekend set in Anaheim, their motivations are obviously worlds apart. The Mariners are 11-4 in their last 15 games, likely preferring to stay at home for the three-game Wild Card round instead of going to Toronto.

The Angels are 1-6 in their last seven, losing two of three to the Houston Astros, then being swept by the Cleveland Guardians. And while being back at home may give them a boost, it could do the same for Seattle, who has the fourth-best road record in MLB.

The Mariners have also won four straight against the Angels to give them an 8-7 record versus their divisional opponents this season. These final four games will determine a season series winner and could put the Mariners closer to locking in their final playoff position.

Game 1: Friday, Sep. 16, 6:38 p.m. PT

Seattle opens up the series with their premier free agent acquisition, 2021 AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. He has not been in the Cy Young conversation in 2022, but that shouldn’t take away from what has been a quality season.

Ray has tossed 166.2 innings, holding a 12-9 record. In that time, he has posted a 3.56 ERA and 1.146 WHIP, striking out 189 batters in the process. Perhaps his biggest flaw has been hard contact, as he’s allowed 26 home runs this season, 1.4 home runs per nine innings.

In this start, he faces the recently returned Michael Lorenzen. The Angels starter missed over two months with a strained right shoulder, but returned to the rotation on Sep. 9. There, he allowed one earned run on three hits and four walks in 5.2 innings against the Astros.

Lorenzen is hopeful that his control improves in his second start back, but he’ll have to do it against a very patient lineup. Despite ranking in the bottom 10 in runs scored and batting average, the Mariners have taken the fourth-most walks in MLB this season.

Game 2: Saturday, Sep. 17, 6:07 p.m. PT

The Angels get their ace on Saturday, with Shohei Ohtani preparing to take the mound after having his most recent start cut short due to a blister. It was said at the time that being removed from the game was precautionary and that it wouldn’t affect his next outing, and that appears to be the case thus far.

Ohtani has been magnificent on the mound in 2022. He has posted career-bests in nearly every category, and has made even the best offenses look silly throughout the year. It’s telling that he has a winning record — 12-8 — despite the Angels being 21 games below .500.

But the Mariners starter is no cakewalk, as it’s rookie George Kirby facing off against Ohtani. Kirby has pitched 111.2 innings in his first MLB season, and has an ERA of 2.98 to go along with a WHIP of 1.137. Most impressively, he has walked a grand total of 14 batters this season.

His 1.1 walks per nine innings is among the best in baseball, and he’s doing it all in his rookie campaign. If not for his teammate, Julio Rodriguez, there’s no doubt he’d win Rookie of the Year hardware.

Game 3: Sunday, Sep. 18, 1:07 p.m. PT

Marco Gonzales has been a solid starter for the Mariners this season. He has a 3.89 ERA and 1.315 WHIP, but has just 88 strikeouts to go along with 24 home runs allowed. And most notably, he has a losing record of 10-13 despite pitching for a team 18 games over .500.

What he does well is pitching to contact, as he ranks in the 83rd percentile in average exit velocity against. The Angels — a strikeout-heavy, but hard hitting team — need to display patience and command of the strike zone against a pitcher prone to allowing hits.

Notably, it’s Reid Detmers on the mound instead of Tucker Davidson. The starter acquired at the trade deadline from the Atlanta Braves has exclusively started on Sundays, before Phil Nevin decided to switch up the rotation. For now, it appears Davidson has lost his spot, and now Detmers gets the start.

Game 4: Monday, Sep. 19, 1:07 p.m. PT

In a rare Monday series finale, and the season series finale between these two teams, it’s Logan Gilbert facing Jose Suarez, both core pieces of their team’s future.

Gilbert is another in a line of quality Mariners starters. He has a 3.19 ERA and 1.206 WHIP in 166.2 innings this season, striking out 156 batters in that time. And while Suarez doesn’t have as prolific of season numbers, he has notably been remarkable since the All-Star break.

Gilbert, 25, and Suarez, 24, have both proven they belong in their team’s long-term plans. This makes Monday afternoon’s finale a must-watch battle between two quality young starters.

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