This is the Sea Shanty Series, as the Mariners are visiting South Florida to take on the Marlins. And both teams are actually overperforming expectations entering this matchup.
The Mariners are cooking, hanging around with the Angels at the top of the AL West standings while sporting the American League’s best run-differential.
Meanwhile, the Marlins are above .500 and sitting in second place in the NL East. Nobody expects Miami to finish above .500 this year, but the Fish are making some noise early in 2022.
But do the Marlins have the firepower to keep up with the Mariners? The Fish gave the Sailors a tough game on Friday evening.
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 2 of this series.
Seattle Mariners vs Miami Marlins Odds
With defending AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray on the mound, it’s no wonder the Mariners are laying some juice in this game.
Meanwhile, Jesus Luzardo is as polarizing a pitcher as there is in the league. The southpaw can throw real hard, but has issues with control and exit velocity.
If Robbie Ray wasn’t struggling in the early going, the Mariners would be laying more juice than this.
But does that mean the Mariners are undervalued? Or should we back the Marlins again at home?
Seattle Mariners Starting Lineup
2B Adam Frazier L
1B Ty France R
LF Jesse Winker L
DH Eugenio Suarez R
SS J.P Crawford L
3B Abraham Toro S
CF Julio Rodriguez R
RF Jarred Kelenic L
C Tom Murphy R
Seattle Mariners vs Jesus Luzardo
Luzardo’s average fastball hits about 97 on the gun. He regularly reaches triple-digits however, and he has posted some gaudy strikeout numbers (37.7% this season).
As a result, Luzardo’s xFIP is around 2.40 and his FIP is around 1.30. But there are plenty of concerning variables about his performance on the mound.
Ranking in the 11th percentile in average exit velocity allowed (92mph) and the 22nd percentile in hard-hit rate allowed (45.2%) is not suitable for long-term success. Luzardo will not continue to strike out almost 15 batters per nine innings.
He’ll have to figure out how to miss bats against this Mariners lineup, which is striking out at a bottom-10 rate. Moreover, Seattle is third in MLB in wRC+ (123), trailing only the Angels and Mets.
When it comes to expected statistics, Seattle isn’t far behind. By xwOBA, the Mariners are fifth in MLB (.354), and they’re sixth in xSLG (.467).
Moreover, it’s not a great matchup for the fastball-heavy Luzardo. It’s hard to accumulate over 20 weighted fastball runs created this early in the season, but Seattle has done it at 21.1. The second-best fastball hitting team so far – the Phillies – have just 11.3 weighted fastball runs created.
Miami Marlins Starting Lineup
LF Jorge Soler R
1B Garrett Cooper R
DH Jesus Aguilar R
RF Avisail Garcia R
CF Jesus Sanchez L
SS Miguel Rojas R
3B Brian Anderson R
C Jacob Stallings R
2B Jazz Chisholm L
Miami Marlins vs Robbie Ray
The Cy Young winner isn’t defending his crown all too well.
Through four starts, his strikeout rate is down a whopping 15% (17% from 32% last season). His average exit velocity and chase rate rank among the bottom 10% of pitchers.
Ray just is not missing bats. His swing-and-miss rate is down on every meaningful miss, and he has yet to force one with either his changeup or curveball. It’s still early, but that’s rather concerning for a four-start, 25 ⅓ inning sample size.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
However, pitching over 25 innings in just four starts is impressive in itself. He’s gone at least six in every start so far, allowing more than two runs just once (six over 6 ⅓ in Southside Chicago).
Hopefully, he can bounce back against a hapless Miami lineup.
But the narrative that the Fish can’t hit is being driven into the ground. In the early going of 2022, the Marlins have posted a whopping 108 wRC+ with a whopping 14th-ranked .690 OPS (“whopping” is a relative term given the lackluster performance from the Marlins the past few seasons).
The Fish crushed Seattle breakout pitcher Matt Brash for eight runs over four innings Friday night. So, given Ray’s recent performance, there’s no reason the Fish can’t score a few more runs tonight.
Seattle Mariners vs Miami Marlins Pick & Prediction
My pick: Seattle Mariners ML (-115 at DraftKings)
While I’d love for the Marlins to repeat their performance from Friday night, there’s too much working against Miami in this matchup.
First, the Mariners are crushing fastballs. There’s no way for Luzardo to sneak his fastball by this lineup because the Mariners are ready for it.
Second, the Mariners are crushing left-handed pitching. Against Southpaws, Seattle has posted the second-best wRC+ (145) and OPS (.790) in MLB so far this season.
The bullpen matchup is with Seattle as well. So, all-in-all, I can’t help but bet the Mariners to bounce back in the second game of this series.
At anything better than -120, I’ll be betting on Seattle.