Series Preview: Mariners at Indians 5/17-20

 

Seattle Mariners (19-21) Chance of Postseason Play: (19.8%) at Cleveland Indians (22-17) Chance of Postseason Play: (46.1%)
Series 14, Games 40, 41, 42 and 43.
Progressive Field: 0.905, Slight Pitchers Park.
Weather: Beautiful weather on the North coast this weekend! Especially for baseball.

Friday , May 17 7:05 EDT (STO) 
Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 5.55)  vs. Brandon Maurer (2-5, 5.97)
Maurer's fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range, teasing the mid-90s on occasion, with some arm side run and some downward plane. He complements the four-seamer with a change-up in the 84-86 mph range and two breaking balls; the slider breaks sharp and late, though it does tend to flatten out at times. The curve ball is clocked in the 76-80 mph range with 12-6 break. One scout I read while researching Mauer called the slider a plus pitch "to go with an above-average curve ball," though the curve ball is a more consistent offering for him right now, and changes the eye level of the hitter. He is capable of throwing both pitches for called strikes, gets some swings and misses with both and often starts out batters with the slider in order to mix things up some.  The change-up is average at best, but much improved from when he was first drafted. Maurer is aggressive and will work both sides of the plate with his fastball and throws strikes with it, usually getting ahead. He's adept at keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate, which bodes well for any big-league aspirations. At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Maurer is big and strong but repeats his delivery well, reminding a lot of scouts of John Lackey, and stays on top of his pitches — which helps create the plane and the ability to avoid the long ball. Maurer has the stuff of a mid-rotation starter, perhaps better with more development of the change-up and continued improvement with his command. He has never faced any member of the Indians and that has proven to cause them headaches this season.
 
Saturday, May 18 1:05 EDT (STO)
Zach McAllister (2-2, 5.64) vs. Joe Saunders (L)  (3-4, 5.51)
Saunders picked up the win Sunday against Oakland, giving up just one earned run on five hits over 6.1 innings pitched. He walked three but struck out six. Saunders improved to 3-0 at Safeco Field, compared to 0-4 on the road. His ERA still sits at an ugly 5.51, but that's largely due to his 12.54 road ERA. According to Elias, Saunders improved to 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 13 career games at Safeco Field with that win. It's a good thing the Indians will face him at Progressive Field. Saunders throws mainly sinking fast balls  and in 2012 averaged just under 90 MPH, according to Pitch F/X. Even as a left-hander, this is slightly below average velocity. He may thrown an occasional slider, but it is not a big part of his repertoire, and there is evidence that he doesn’t throw it anymore. His main breaking pitches are his change-up and his curve ball. He uses them traditionally, with curve balls over a quarter of the time, especially when he is ahead, to lefties (when he has the platoon advantage), and change-ups nearly a quarter of the time, especially when behind, against righties (when he doesn’t have the platoon advantage). He very rarely throws the change against lefties. That's good news for Michael Brantley and Nick Swisher.
 
Sunday, May 19 1:05 EDT (STO)
Justin Masterson(6-2, 3.14) vs. Felix Hernandez (5-2, 1.53)
What a matchup. Two of the American League's best will square off in a afternoon matinee. Hernandez has been listed as "day to day" because of a sore lower back recently. Hernandez said he felt a “pinch” in his lower back, which has bothered him on occasion this season, when he turned and threw to second on a pick-off attempt. Shifting his weight from one side to the other while throwing to second gave him a shot of pain. After taking a warm-up pitch, Hernandez waved off manager Eric Wedge and trainer Rick Griffin to finish the sixth. But,Wedge wouldn't hear any of it. According to other reports, it looks as if it will not affect his pitching at all.
 
Monday, May 20 12:05 EDT (STO)
Scott Kazmir (L) (2-2, 5.33) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 1.84)
By looking at Iwakuma's stats, poking fun at how to spell or pronounce his name shouldn't be a laughing matter. To save some agony on my end trying to locate video on him, Mike Fast at Baseball Prospectus did an excellent job doing a scouting report on Iwakuma from the 2009 World Baseball Classic.


Prediction: Indians split the series, 2-2.

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