Network Notebook: Red Sox/Mariners Series Preview

STUMBLING SEATTLE HOSTS BOSTON IN HUGE SERIES FOR BOTH TEAMS

The Seattle Mariners had a real chance to make a statement this past weekend when hosting the New York Yankees. They did! That statement was "we're probably not good enough to make the playoffs." Seattle lost three of four at home to fall back below the .500 mark in a very crowded race for just two Wildcard spots.

Boston dropped two of three themselves. But, that was on the road in Anaheim against the Angels who were playing with their backs against the wall. Boston still leads the AL East, and is still well-positioned to at least make the playoffs if they can maintain their pace.

Probably not a playoff preview, but a very important series that's going to be played with playoff intensity because neither team can slack off...particularly off losing weekends. Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats have to say about the teams and their probable pitchers.

TEAM QUALITY
Boston: +64 runs, while playing 47 home games and 53 road games
Seattle: -7 runs, while playing 53 home games and 47 road games

That's definitely playoff caliber performance from Boston, but probably not championship caliber performance. Houston's well over +150 in run differential. The Yanks are over +100. Even Cleveland enters the week at +81. Note the home/road split still favors Boston to move forward the rest of the way. They will have extra home games, and it will be nine extra after this series. Seattle's playing like a 79-83 type team to this point...with a negative run differential against a home heavy schedule.

TEAM OFFENSE
Boston: 4.7 runs-per-game, .334 on-base, .406 slugging
Seattle: 4.7 runs-per-game, .328 on-base, .417 slugging

Virtually identical teams. Boston does a better job of getting on base, but has disappointing power numbers this season. Seattle's more likely to go deep. Worth noting that Fenway Park has actually been a pitcher's park this season. Normally you'd have to make significant park adjustments for this kind of matchup. Not the case this season. Similar offenses. Boston has the much better starting pitching rotations.

MONDAY
Rodriguez: 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.9 K's per 9 innings
Paxton: 3.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.2 K's per 9 innings

Seattle's best shot to get a win with their ace James Paxton starting things off. Clear edges across the board, plus they didn't have to deal with any travel. If Seattle doesn't get this win...a bleak week is likely to continue. Too early to say "their season hangs in the balance" with this one game. But, it's a key indicator game in terms of what a loss would mean. You can't drop four of five at home NOW if you're a legit contender.

TUESDAY
Pomeranz: 3.51 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 9.5 K's per 9 innings
F. Hernandez: 3.88 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.6 K's per 9 innings

King Felix can still get people out. But, he's nowhere near what he used to be based on those numbers. At his best, his ERA might be three-fourths of a run lower, the WHIP would be closer to 1.00, and the strikeout rate would be scary rather than pedestrian. Pomeranz isn't an ace. But, he's one of those guys who can help good teams make a run at 90-100 wins if he's shoring up the back end of the rotation. Stats suggest a slight edge to the visitor. Might be the most entertaining game of the trio.

WEDNESDAY
Sale: 2.48 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.7 K's per 9 innings
Moore: 5.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.9 K's per 9 innings

Uh oh if you're a Seattle fan. Your least dangerous starter has to go up against a Cy Young candidate. That low K-Rate for Moore is almost unbelievable in the current era. He can't strikeouts even when everyone is swinging from their heels! Huge edge to Sale, who will be a prohibitive market favorite.

Boston will be disappointed with anything less than two out of three. Seattle might have to kiss their playoff hopes goodbye if that happens. Just too many teams ahead of them who are better positioned to make a run at the real-world win threshold for a Wildcard spot.

JIM HURLEY will be watching this series closely...one of the few going on these next few days that will have high level electricity. Will he have any picks? You must be a paying client to find out!

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Back with you in a couple of days to talk more handicapping. We have marquee previews coming up after that...with that huge Cubs/Brewers series in the NL Central this weekend, followed by a potential playoff preview of divisional winners when Cleveland visits Boston beginning a week from today.

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22
Nov

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