Kyle Seager. Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Totally biased Philadelphia Phillies vs. Seattle Mariners series preview

As expected, the Philadelphia Phillies lost two out of the three games they played in San Francisco. Now they get to fly back across the country to take on the Seattle Mariners. (Didn’t baseball used to allow travel days when flying coast to coast?)

Phillies vs. Mariners: The rivalry

Like with most of the American League West teams, there isn’t much of a rivalry here. They’ve only played three series against each other, with the most recent coming in 2011.

Get a look at Robinson Cano now, because he may not be back any time soon. Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

That’s probably a good thing, since the Phillies are only 2-7 against the Mariners. (And one of those wins came in extra innings. The winning pitcher in that game: Geoff Geary!)

This will actually be the Mariners first time appearing in Citizens Bank Park. The last time the teams played in Philadelphia, the Phillies were in their final Veterans Stadium season. So for all you Phillies fans who have been dying for a chance to see Mariners players like Justin Smoak and Corey Hart - this is your big chance! (Except that Smoak is in the minors, and Hart is on the disabled list.)

However, Robinson Cano is expected to be in the lineup. So that’s something.

What’s the deal with the Mariners?

At 67-56, the Mariners are in third place in the very competitive American League West. They’re also tied with two other teams at the top of the Wild Card standings.

While their hitting has been decent, the Mariners have been mostly carried by their pitching staff. Led by ace Felix Hernandez, the Mariners have the best team ERA in baseball.

The good news for the Phillies is that they won’t actually have to face Hernandez in this series.

Mariners player who isn’t entirely horrible

Kyle Seager‘s first two years in the league were solid, as he hit over 20 home runs in both of them. But in his third season, he’s taken another step forward and established himself as one of the American League’s best third basemen.

With 18 homers so far, he’s on pace to easily top his career best 22, and his on-base percentage is likely to improve for the third straight season. In addition, most metrics have him being much improved on defense.

Mariners player who is horrible

Chris Denorfia is not the answer for the Mariners offense. Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Needing more offense from their outfielders, the Mariners were rumored to be interested in trading for Marlon Byrd. Either Byrd’s limited no-trade clause (Seattle was one of the teams on Byrd’s list. I guess he doesn’t like rain?) or his contract kept that from happening. Instead, they traded for Tigers outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Maybe the Mariners had to pay a smaller price, but Denorfia hasn’t exactly been the answer for them so far. In ten games with the team, he’s batting .250 with no home runs.

Starting pitching breakdown

A quick look at the starting pitchers the Phillies will be facing this series:

Roenis Elias

The rookie pitcher out of Cuba is having a decent season at the back of the Seattle rotation. With a 9-9 record and 4.14 ERA, he hasn’t shocked the baseball world, but he’s been far from embarrassing either.

One major problem is that Elias hasn’t often pitched deep into games. He hasn’t lasted more than six innings in a start in over a month.

Hisashi Iwakuma

Hisashi Iwakuma. Image Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In his third season in the majors since coming over from Japan, Iwakuma may be having his best season yet. At 11-6 and a 2.72 ERA, he’s been a strong #2 in the Mariners rotation.

James Paxton

After facing pitchers from Cuba and Japan, the Phillies will square off against a good old-fashioned American in the series finale.

Paxton doesn’t have much experience – this will be only his tenth start – but he has excelled in the limited starts he’s made thus far. In five starts this season, Paxton is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA.

Token note about the Phillies

 

Aug 12, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerome Williams (13) walks off the field against the Los Angeles Angels during the sixth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Williams will make his second start for the Phillies on Monday night. In his Phillies debut, he pitched admirably, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings.

Expectations for Williams are understandably low – he doesn’t exactly have a track record of success – but if he can pitch that well, the Phillies will be very pleased.

Prediction

The Phillies have been awful against the American League, and I don’t see that changing now. This series will go much like the last time the Mariners visited Philadelphia: They’ll leave town with three more victories.

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