American League Wild Card Game Preview: Detroit @ Seattle

-American League Wild Card Game Preview-
Detroit @ Seattle

Date Of Game: TBD
By: MLB Pro AP

While a few days remain in the MLB Pro regular season, the American League Wild Card game matchup is set, the Detroit Tigers will travel to Seattle for a game against the Mariners.  The winner will advance to the ALDS to face the Los Angeles Angels.

The Tigers and Mariners each came into the 2017 season as strong contenders for advancing deep into the American League playoffs.  The Tigers began the season 17-2 and found themselves at the top of the AL Central all the way until mid-July.  Since July 25th, the Tigers have gone 30-37, the fourth best record within the division.  The Tigers dramatic shift in performance was most notably seen with their pitching.  After starting the year 9-1 with an ERA of 2.54 through his first 14 starts, Paul Clemens has gone 4-7 with an ERA of 4.89 since.

After a blistering start to the season by the Angels, the Mariners had an uphill climb within the division all season long.  A blockbuster trade on July 4th jumpstarted a change in the clubhouse that brought in firepower in the form of Bob Carlisle and Arinori Arai.  Since acquiring the pair, the Mariners have gone 49-23, the best record in baseball over that time.

  • Before All-Star Break: 90 Games, .239 AVG, .312 OBP, .393 SLG
  • After All-Star Break: 66 Games, .265 AVG, .353 OBP, .438 SLG

While the Mariners offense has definitely played a big role in the turnaround for the team, the Mariners have also relied heavy on Felix Hernandez.  The Mariners have won 25 consecutive games started by Hernandez. Felix currently has the third best ERA in the American League, only trailing teammates Jordan Zimmerman and Nathan Eovaldi.

A member of the Mariners front-office had this to say about the game, “We need to keep the on us and the things we can control.  The top of the line-up needs to carry us to a few runs and the bullpen needs to pitch to contact.”

 


SEASON SERIES
Seattle won 4-3

Date Location Score Winning Pitcher Losing Pitcher
04-25-2017 @Det Win, 3-0 Felix Hernandez (3-2)
04-26-2017 @Det Win, 12-4 Danny Hultzen (3-2)
04-27-2017 @Det Loss, 2-5 Paul Clemens (1-0)
06-19-2017 @Sea Win, 3-1 Zachary Herr (1-2) Josh Johnson (0-2)
06-20-2017 @Sea Loss, 1-3 Paul Clemens (2-0) Danny Hultzen (5-5)
06-21-2017 @Sea Win, 3-0 Nathan Eovaldi (8-4) Casey Crosby (0-1)
06-22-2017 @Sea Loss, 0-1 Brett Anderson (1-0)

KEYS TO THE GAME

  1. The Mariners Bullpen – In September, Mariner’s “closer” Fautino de los Santos has allowed 11 hits and given up 6 walks in 9 2/3 innings pitched.  The Mariners have had a long standing issue with late game leads.
  2. Joey Votto… – Joey Votto is currently hitting .149 with 26 strikeouts in 87 September at-bats.
  3. The Strike Zone – The teams are currently 1st and 2nd in the American League in drawing walks.  With two workhorses on the mound, which team will be able to take advantage of free passes.

THE ANONYMOUS GM

MLB Pro’s “Anonymous GM” asked several General Managers for their take on the AL Wild Card game, these are there thoughts.

  • “Felix’s ability to go late into the game will be important, as their bullpen has blown countless games this year. Seattle’s revamped lineup will be put to the test against Strasburg, the leagues best pitcher for years.”
  • “I think Seattle will take it – the two squared off (Felix/Stras) on 4/25 and Felix dominated the Tigers – and that was when the Tigers were playing well.  Heck, in a lot of ways, the Tigers haven’t played well since that April series began – going just 71-68. In that same timeframe, the M’s have been as good as anyone (87-52).”
  • “They key to me is going to be Strasburg. He has to be elite for Detroit to have a shot. 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R likely won’t cut it. He’ll have to watch Felix post a zero, and then match it. They’ll need him to have a great game to escape Seattle with a W.”
  • “My call – Mariners 5, Tigers 2. Tigers eke out a run in the 1st, to give some hope, but M’s lead 2-1 through most of the game, pile on 3 in the 7th or 8th and Felix leaves after 8. Some random Mariner reliever allows a couple runners and a run in the 9th to make it a good show but the M’s advance.”
  • “Strasburg’s 5.90+ lifetime postseason ERA won’t do it for the Tigers. Pretty sure Josh Johnson would give them a better shot, though King Felix had been pretty untouchable for Detroit this year. TIP: Seattle 8-2 vs Strasburg or 4-2 vs Johnson.”