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Series Preview: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners

The 2020 MLB season – as uncertain as it might be – continues and as long as it’s around, it promises to be interesting. The upcoming AL West series between the Mariners and the A’s will be no different. Seattle and Oakland kick off a four-game slate at T-Mobile Park on Friday night.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash on the West Coast:

SERIES INFORMATION

  1. Friday, July 31st, 9:40 pm ET/6:40 pm PT
  2. Saturday, August 1st, 9:10 pm ET/6:10 pm PT
  3. Sunday, August 2nd, 4:10 pm ET/1:10 pm PT
  4. Monday, August 3rd, 9:10 pm ET/6:10 pm PT

*All games to be broadcast on ROOT Northwest and NBC Sports California, and the teams’ radio affiliates

WHERE THE TEAMS STAND

The Athletics were impressive during their first series of the year, winning three of four at home against the Angels. However, they went on to lose both games in Colorado after that, and currently stand at .500 with a 3-3 record.

Seattle lost three of their four opening-weekend games against the Astros but was then able to snatch a series win from the Angels to climb to a 3-4 record, half a game from Oakland and the top of the division.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Credits: USA Today

GAME ONE

Sean Manaea (0-1, 7.71 ERA) vs Taijuan Walker (0-1, 13.50 ERA)

Manaea is looking for a strong season after he put on a promising display after coming back from injury last year. However, he certainly didn’t help his cause in his first start in 2020. Manaea allowed 4 runs in 4.2 innings of work against the Angels in his first start. This included a homerun by Justin Upton and just three strikeouts. He’ll be looking to go back to his 1.21 ERA from last season and 3.69 ERA against the Mariners career-wise.

The former Indiana State product has a considerable success against the current Seattle lineup. Nobody within the Mariners has more than 10 at-bats against him, except for Kyle Seager, who’s batting merely .222 in 27 AB.

Walker also had a rough start to the season. The Louisiana native, who hasn’t pitched a healthy season since 2017, In 3-1/3 innings versus the Astros on July 25th, Walker surrendered 5 runs and walked a batter while striking out just one.

The former Diamondbacks’ starter had a solid 2017 campaign, posting a 3.49 ERA in 28 starts. He’s only made five starts across three years with Arizona and Seattle since then. The two A’s batters with the most experience against Walker – Marcus Semien (11 at-bats) and Khris Davis (8) – both have a sub-.200 average.

GAME TWO

Mike Fiers (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 12.27 ERA)

Fiers, coming off a great season with a 3.90 ERA, gave up 7 hits and 4 runs in four innings against the Angels in Oakland’s third game of 2020. Despite two straight seasons with sub-4.00 ERA, concerns are still present. The former Detroit Tiger posted just 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings last year, as well as 2.6 walks per nine. The latter represents a big increase compared to 2018’s 1.9 and the highest not counting his 2011 rookie campaign. His first start on the road should show what direction he’s heading towards in 2020.

Kikuchi, meanwhile, struggled during his first season away from the Country of the Rising Sun. The Japanese pitcher posted a 5.46 ERA in 161 innings with 6.5 K/9. When it comes to matchups against the Athletics, both Chad Pinder and Ramon Laureano batted over .300 in 2019. Yusei allowed 5 runs in 3.2 innings against Houston but his team came back to win 7-6.

GAME THREE

Chris Bassitt (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Kendall Graveman (0-1, 13.50 ERA)

Bassitt was sharp in his first start of the year, striking out five without allowing a run in four innings on the mound. He should be set up for a strong 2020 campaign after a 3.81 ERA in 2019. In addition, he’s been very successful against Kyle Seager, who has a career batting average of .188 in 18 plate appearances.

He’ll be going up against a former Athletics starter in Graveman, who made his first start in two years earlier this week. Graveman, who spent four years with the A’s, took the loss against the Astros after allowing six earned runs in four innings, including two homers, at Minute Maid Park. Only Robbie Grossman has batted against Graveman throughout his career, not recording a hit in all five at-bats and striking out twice.

GAME FOUR

Daniel Mengden (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs Justus Sheffield (0-1, 12.00 ERA)

The fourth game of the series will put the youngster and former Yankees prospect Sheffield against a starter for the A’s that remains questionable. It’s likely to be Mengden, who got the start in the fifth rotation spot last time out and allowed three runs in four innings. However, Jesus Luzardo has been creating momentum with solid relief appearances and is anticipating getting the ball for the first time in 2020.

Sheffield will make his ninth career start on Monday. When he faced the Athletics the last time out, he had one of his best starts, despite what was an effort leaving his evaluators with mixed feelings. Sheffield allowed just one run over five innings at the end of September against Oakland, despite walking four batters and conceding a homerun. The A’s could be a good opponent for him to start a streak of quality starts.

OFFENSIVE DISPLAY

Runs Scored: Mariners – 36; Athletics – 21

Runs/game: Mariners – 5.1; Athletics – 3.5

Credits: Yardbarker.com

As always at the start of a season, the Mariners start (relatively) strong, with the reason being their lineup. The biggest surprise has been the rookie Kyle Lewis, who has been tearing it up lately, batting .448/.500/.655 with 1.155 OPS and team-leading 2 homeruns. J.P. Crawford has also put on a pleasant display at the plate, reaching base at a .512 rate. Kyle Seager, the leader of the offensive core, has 4 RBIs and has also been solid. However, the questions are too much for Seattle’s good luck to turn into permanent success. Therefore, expect a big regression to the mean, as is the case every year.

For Oakland, Ramon Laureano and Robbie Grossman are the hot batters with over-.300 averages. However, Marcus Semien has had a rarely cold start with 6 hits in 25 at-bats, accompanied by .509 OPS. Meanwhile, Khris Davis has hit a new low, getting on a 15-at-bat hitless streak. After years of inconsistent display, Davis’s bad form finally matters more and he feels like a liability. Watch out for Mark Canha (.350 OBP) to play his way into the lineup, yet again.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

J.P. Crawford vs. Daniel Mengden (11 AB) – .444/.545/.667

Robbie Grossman vs. Taijuan Walker (10 AB) – .500/.545/.900

Kyle Seager vs. Mike Fiers (21 AB) – .333/.364/.524; HR, 4 RBI

SUMMARY

The hot Mariners bats should be a lot colder against Oakland’s strong rotation and an even better bullpen. Meanwhile, players like Semien and Matt Chapman could show why they are so highly thought of and get the A’s closer to the top of the AL West.

Follow me on Twitter @TeodorTsenov for more of my content and follow @OT_Heroics!

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Teodor
Jets and Marlins writer for Overtime Heroics, as well as an NFL and MLB writer for Franchise Sports UK. From Bulgaria.
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