clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Orioles-Mariners series preview: An underachieving team arrives in town

Seattle’s following up its 90-win season from last year by currently being below .500

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The last time that the Orioles and Mariners played one another, both teams were below .500. That was almost exactly one full year ago, as the two teams met up in Seattle to close out June. At the end of that series, the O’s were 35-42 and the M’s were 36-41. Things got more awesome from there for both teams, as Seattle finished with 90 wins and broke its long postseason drought, while the 2022 O’s ended up with 83.

The follow-up act for the Mariners is not going as well as it has been for the Orioles so far. Seattle comes into this team a game below .500, fresh off losing two out of three against the Yankees. They have not been above .500 in three weeks. Thanks for putting that 10-2 drubbing on New York last night though, guys. Good looking out.

Seattle’s biggest problem so far is that their offense is near the bottom of the league in nearly every category, especially batting average, where their .227 as a team is second-worst in the AL. If you’re grumpy looking at the season totals for Jorge Mateo and Adam Frazier, imagine how these fans must feel to contemplate the batting lines of regular players AJ Pollock (.524 OPS) and Kolten Wong (.473 OPS).

That’s on top of having a garden variety level of bad hitting from their third baseman, Eugenio Suárez. And just for good measure, the player who only won the Rookie of the Year last year because Adley Rutschman wasn’t able to play the full season - outfielder Julio Rodríguez - is undergoing a sophomore slump of sorts. After OPSing .853 last season, he’s at just .715 right now.

The performance of their offense to date is a shame because their pitching staff has been pretty good. The team ERA of 3.85 is seventh in the AL, which doesn’t sound all that impressive, but ninth in MLB because the NL is so bad. Three active starting pitchers have an ERA of 3.75 or lower, including two of the pitchers who will face the Orioles in this series. The Seattle bullpen is not getting hammered with innings. They have no relievers who’ve thrown more than 30 IP. The Orioles have five such relievers.

All in all, most of the ingredients for a successful team have been there for the Mariners. They just haven’t had the success so far. The Orioles will try to make sure that this weekend isn’t the time they start to turn things around.

Game 1: Friday, 7:05, MASN

Probable pitchers: Kyle Gibson (15 GS, 89 IP, 3.94 ERA, 3.82 FIP) vs. Logan Gilbert (14 GS, 79.1 IP, 4.31 ERA, 3.60 FIP)

In terms of the starting pitchers being used and their pitching results so far this season, this is the most favorable game for the Orioles in the three-game set. Gibson has, to my surprise, been pretty much exactly what the Orioles could have hoped for from him, averaging almost exactly six innings per game started, with a significant ERA drop from what he did in Philadelphia last year. Home has been the place to be for Gibson, with a 3.53 ERA in six starts. Walltimore, it’s good for pitchers.

Only a year ago, Gilbert was one of the better pitchers in the league, finishing up the season with a 3.20 ERA over a full season of 32 starts. His follow-up act is not going as well, at least as far as his ERA, despite increasing his strikeout rate and cutting both his walk rate and WHIP. The ERA is up to 4.31, which, when adjusted for park and league in ERA+, comes out at 93 - seven percent below league average.

Is it bad luck? Maybe! Gilbert’s only allowing a .660 OPS to batters who’ve faced him, with very consistent results against both righties and lefties. He’s slightly worse on the road, but not that much worse. Three June starts have added up to a 5.28 ERA.

Game 2: Saturday, 4:05, MASN

Probable pitchers: Dean Kremer (15 GS, 81 IP, 4.56 ERA, 4.63 FIP) vs. Bryce Miller (9 GS, 51.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 3.12 FIP)

The 24-year-old rookie Miller pitched himself into the bottom part of some of this year’s preseason top 100 prospect lists after he combined to strike out 160 batters across 128.1 innings in High-A and Double-A last year. His debut MLB campaign is going pretty well even without that level of gaudy strikeouts - so far, Miller’s not even striking out a batter per inning.

What Miller is doing is keeping batters off base. His WHIP allowed is just 0.877, lower than O’s MLB WHIP leader Tyler Wells. Miller just hasn’t hit the threshold to qualify for league leads, which is one inning pitched per team game. Wells is safe from Miller for a while. Miller did not get called up until May. He might not have time to get enough innings to qualify for these kinds of categories.

Here is another demonstration of bad luck for Gilbert, who I mentioned in the previous game. Dean Kremer has allowed an .808 OPS by batters this year. That’s 148 points higher than Friday’s starter Gilbert. Yet Kremer only has an ERA that’s 0.25 runs above Gilbert’s. Kremer is getting hammered. His Statcast page is full of blue (bad) numbers, some of which are REALLY bad. My belief that the Orioles must trade for a starter is fueled in part by not thinking Kremer will be good enough. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong for one day in this series.

Game 3: Sunday, 1:35, MASN

Probable pitchers: TBD vs. George Kirby (14 GS, 87.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 3.17 FIP)

An amazing fact about Kirby’s 2023 season so far is that he has walked a total of six (6) batters out of the 351 who have come to the plate against him. That’s how you end up with a 12.5 K/BB ratio without even managing a K/9 above 9. He has been consistent between home and away, and night and day. Through three starts, June is his worst month of the season, and even then he’s only allowing a .771 OPS against and 4.32 ERA. So I guess there’s that.

Actually, one area where Kirby has pronounced splits is when facing lefty batters, as you’d expect for a righty pitcher. It won’t be surprising if the Orioles stack lefties against him to take advantage of his .772 OPS against, compared to .582 for righty batters. This strategy has not always worked out for the O’s, but it does often enough that they keep at it. There are plenty of lefties and switch hitters around.

If the Orioles follow the order that the rotation has been going up to this point, this game will be started by Kyle Bradish. As of this writing, that has not been announced.


In the most recent series, 63% of you thought that the Orioles would win one game to get a split with the Rays. Good job being correct. What do you think will happen this time?


How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Mariners?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    3 (Orioles sweep)
    (37 votes)
  • 68%
    (202 votes)
  • 13%
    (41 votes)
  • 5%
    0 (Orioles swept)
    (17 votes)
297 votes total Vote Now