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Red Sox vs. Mariners Series Preview

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Previewing a pivotal three-game series between two Wild Card contenders

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Lookout Landing

The opponent in one sentence

With less than three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Mariners still find themselves in the thick of the American League Wild Card race as they come into play Monday just three games back of the Red Sox for the second and final spot.

Record

77-66

Head-to-head record

2-2

Trend

Slightly downward. While the Mariners have certainly exceeded preseason expectations set for them in the spring, they are coming off a disappointing weekend in which they dropped two out of three to the lowly Diamondbacks at home after losing another three-game series in Houston last week.

Pitching Matchups

9/13: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Logan Gilbert, 10:10 PM ET

The Red Sox will hand the ball to Rodriguez to kick off what has the makings to be an extremely crucial series. September has been a mixed bag for the left-hander thus far, as he hurled six scoreless innings in a winning effort against the Rays at Tropicana Field on September 2 before getting shelled for six runs in just 3 23 innings by a similar Tampa Bay lineup at Fenway Park five days later.

Opposing Rodriguez will be rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert for the Mariners. Since getting called up to the majors for the first time in May, Gilbert has posted a 5.10 ERA through his first 20 starts and 95 13 innings pitched of the season. There was a stretch from May 25 through July 30 where Seattle went unbeaten in Gilbert’s outing, but they are just 1-6 in his last seven starts. A former first-round draft pick out of Stetson University, the 24-year-old primarily relies on his four-seam fastball and also throws a slider, changeup, and curveball.

9/14: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Tyler Anderson, 10:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out of market)

Eovaldi has undoubtedly been the Red Sox’ best starting pitcher over the last month-plus. The veteran righty has put up a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts (37 23 innings pitched) dating back to August 11 and ranks third among qualified American League starters in fWAR (1.0) over that stretch. What has stood out in regards to Eovaldi’s performance as of late is the fact that the 31-year-old hurler is striking out nearly one-third of the batters he has faced while waking less than 5 percent of them. He will look to do more of that on Monday.

Opposite Eovaldi will be veteran left-hander Tyler Anderson, who the Mariners acquired from the Pirates ahead of July’s trade deadline in exchange for a pair of prospects. Since the move to Seattle, Anderson has pitched to the tune of a 3.83 ERA over eight starts with the M’s spanning 44 23 innings of work. The 31-year-old, who also wears the No. 31, is similar to Eovaldi in that he also uses five pitches, though his arsenal consists of a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a changeup, a sinker, and a rarely-featured curveball.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

9/15: TBD vs. Marco Gonzales, 4:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out of market)

The Red Sox have yet to name a starter for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Mariners, though it seems likely that responsibility would fall to Tanner Houck since his last start came on Friday — meaning he would be working on regular rest.

The Mariners, on the other hand, will roll with left-hander Marco Gonzales, who got his 2021 season off to a shaky start but has been significantly better going back to the All-Star break. In 10 starts since the Midsummer Classic, the 29-year-old has posted an ERA of 2.74 to go along with 39 strikeouts to 13 walks over his last 61 23 innings of work. Gonzales, like Anderson, throws five different pitches: a sinker, a changeup, a curveball, a cutter, and a four-seam fastball.

Old Friends

Shortly after being released by the Red Sox last month, veteran right-hander Matt Andriese inked a major-league deal with the Mariners. Andriese’s time in Boston did not go well, but it appears as though a change of scenery has benefitted the 32-year-old since he has only allowed one unearned run through his first four appearances with Seattle.

Ryan Weber, meanwhile, was first claimed off waivers by the Brewers when he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox in June, but the righty was later scooped up the Mariners when Milwaukee designated him for assignment in July. Weber has appeared in two games for Seattle since then and was optioned to the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma on July 29.

As for Marcus Wilson, the outfield prospect acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Blake Swihart trade two years ago was designated for assignment by the Red Sox in the wake of the team’s flurry of trade deadline moves back in July. Wilson, like Weber, was later claimed off waivers by the Mariners, though he is still waiting to make his major-league debut.

Notable Position Players

Ty France was one of four players the Mariners acquired from the Padres that sent Austin Adams and Austin Nola to San Diego last August. In his first full season with Seattle, France has been a sparkplug who has proven that he can play every infield position besides shortstop. As a former 34th-round draft pick out of college in 2015, he is easy to root for.

For a Mariners team that seemingly endures endless roster turnover year after year, veteran third baseman Kyle Seager has proven to be a steady presence in Seattle’s lineup. He has also belted a career-high 34 home runs this year.

J.P. Crawford may be one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball that no one really talks about. The 26-year-old is currently in the midst of a career year and came into play Sunday having posted a positive-7 defensive runs saved over 1,234 13 innings at shortstop so far this season.

Mitch Haniger clubbed his 32nd home run of the year and his second homer in as many games in Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. The right-handed hitting slugger will certainly be a threat to go deep off of the left-handed Rodriguez later Monday night, assuming he is in Seattle’s starting lineup.

Abraham Toro was one of two players the Mariners picked up from the Astros when they dealt relievers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero to Houston ahead of the trade deadline. Since then, Toro, a 24-year-old first baseman, has posted an OPS of .813 through his first 42 games with Seattle.

Jarred Kelenic came into the 2021 season as one of the most hyped-up prospects in baseball. The young outfielder was called up for the first time on May 13, but struggled mightily in his first big-league stint before getting optioned to Triple-A in early June. Upon returning to the Mariners after the All-Star break, Kelenic has still endured his fair share of difficulties, but has begun showing some signs of promise. He is, for instance, hitting .231/.310/.538 over his last seven games and mashed his 10th home run of the year on Sunday.

Bullpen Snapshot

Since the Mariners traded Graveman to the Astros in late July, right-hander Drew Steckenrider has emerged as the club’s top reliever, as evidenced by the fact that he has allowed just two earned runs over his last 19 1/3 innings pitched.

Casey Sadler has also been impressive out of the Seattle bullpen, as the righty extended his scoreless appearances streak to 20 straight games in the sixth inning of Sunday’s loss to Arizona.

Also of note, former Rays reliever Diego Castillo has posted a 3.38 ERA and 5.79 FIP across 14 appearances and 13 13 innings pitched for the Mariners since he was traded from Tampa Bay to Seattle on July 29.

Injuries

Former Boston College standout Justin Dunn opened the 2021 season in the Mariners’ starting rotation, but has been held out of action since late June on account of right shoulder inflammation. Seattle transferred the 25-year-old from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list on Aug. 19, but he did pitch in a simulated game over the weekend, so he could be nearing a return.

On April 26, left-hander Nick Margevicius was placed on the 10-day injured list one day he left his start against the Red Sox in the first inning due to left shoulder inflammation. As they did with Dunn, the Mariners transferred Margevicius to the 60-day IL in May and there has not been much word on him since.

Andres Munoz, a 22-year-old right-hander, underwent Tommy John surgery last March and was placed on the 60-day injured list by the Mariners at the start of the 2021 season.

Ljay Newsome, a 24-year-old right-hander, experienced inflammation in his right elbow back in May and was later diagnosed with a UCL injury that would require the Mariners to place him on the 60-day injured list shortly thereafter. He apparently underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery at some point this summer.

James Paxton’s reunion with the Mariners was a short-lived one, as the veteran left-hander sustained a forearm strain in early April and later underwent Tommy John surgery that same month.

Joining this long list of Mariners pitchers who recently had Tommy John surgery is former Astros and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, who inked a two-year, $7 million deal with Seattle in February that includes a team option for 2023 despite going under the knife last September.

Among Mariners’ position players who are currently sidelined, second baseman Shed Long Jr. suffered a stress fracture in his right shin last September and is still feeling the effects of that today, as he was most recently transferred to the 60-day IL towards the end of August.

Evan White, meanwhile, won a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts at first base during his rookie season last year, but has been limited to just 30 games this season on account of being sidelined with a left hip flexor strain since May 13.

Jake Fraley has been on and off the injured list for a variety of reasons so far this season. The 26-year-old has most recently been hampered by right shoulder inflammation, though he did start a rehab assignment with Tacoma over the weekend.

Sam Haggerty is another Mariners player currently dealing with inflammation in his right elbow, as the second baseman was initially placed on the 10-day IL in late May because of the ailment before being transferred to the 60-day IL in early June.

Reining American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis did not make his 2021 debut until April 20 because of a bone bruise is right knee and later suffered a meniscus tear in early June. Just last week, the M’s shut down the outfielder for the remainder of the 2021 campaign due to a setback in his rehab.

Weather Forecast

According to the National Weather Service, the forecast for the Seattle-area this week looks pretty encouraging. Monday is expected to be a mostly sunny day with temperatures in the 60s, Tuesday should be clear before rain showers roll in later that night, and Wednesday looks good once those showers pass through in the morning.

That said, T-Mobile Park does have a retractable roof, so it’s not like a slight chance of rain would prevent these next three games from getting played.