With the Toronto Blue Jays set to host the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre for a three-game AL wild-card series starting Friday, here is everything you need to know about how these clubs match up statistically.
Here’s what the pitching matchups in this three-game series might look like:
Game 1 – RHP Alek Manoah vs RHP Luis Castillo (confirmed)
Game 2 – RHP Kevin Gausman vs LHP Robbie Ray (TBD)
Anecdotally, Seattle has the edge in starting pitching. You could argue that Manoah has a leg up on Castillo; you could argue is Gausman is better than Ray, but it’s hard to deny the M’s depth when Gilbert is their third pitching option in a playoff series.
As a unit, Seattle sports a nice 3.75 starter ERA, whereas Toronto comes in a few notches higher at 3.98. Mariners starters are more home-run prone (1.21 HR/9) than Blue Jays starters (1.10 HR/9), although Toronto outdoes Seattle in strikeout-minus-walk rate (16.4 percent vs 14.3 percent).
In September/October, Manoah (0.88 ERA) and Gilbert (2.00 ERA) have been the two best arms on either side. Gausman and Ray had bumpy final months of the season, leading to both guys rocking monthly ERAs of over 4.00.
The left-hander Ray was hit especially hard the last few weeks. In his last eight starts, opposing clubs slashed .289/.342/.496 with eight homers. The 31-year-old’s home-run trouble mixed with the Blue Jays’ right-handed-heavy batting order makes Ray’s start day very intriguing.
Toronto’s offence is better than Seattle’s offence based on nearly every metric. As of Thursday, the Jays rank first among all MLB teams in batting average (.264), tied for second in OPS (.760), and fourth in runs scored (775). The Mariners, on the other hand, are a much more middle-of-the-pack hitting team. Their .230 team batting average isn’t great, ranking 26th in baseball.
In three games at Rogers Centre this year, Seattle hitters went 20-for-97 (.206 BA) and scored just seven runs over three games. The Jays weren’t spectacular either during that stretch, batting 23-for-98 (.247), scoring 10 runs, and eking out a series victory.
Julio Rodríguez, Seattle’s lead-off hitter, is the M’s best player. The 21-year-old brings a rare mesh of power, speed, and defense, which makes him a 6.0-bWAR player (for comparison, George Springer is worth 4.1 WAR). Rodríguez has struggled against the Blue Jays this season, though, slashing .192/.250/.231 in seven games.
Eugenio Suárez (.929 OPS), Rodríguez (.889), and Ty France (.848) are Seattle’s best hitters with runners in scoring position. With men on, Toronto’s Danny Jansen (1.013 OPS), Alejandro Kirk (.869), and Teoscar Hernández (.852) do the most damage. As a team, Toronto is slightly better with RISP (.773) than Seattle (.760).
The Blue Jays have a much deeper lineup, too. Hitters six-through-nine in Toronto’s order are batting .269 this year, while that same group on the Mariners side is at just .214.
Though the Blue Jays make things close in some categories, the Mariners appear to have the better bullpen. Seattle’s relievers are narrowly better in earned run average (3.33 vs Toronto’s 3.77) and strikeout-minus-walk percentage (18.3 percent vs Toronto’s 15.4 percent). The two groups are practically even in home run suppression, with the Mariners at 1.1 HR/9 and the Jays at 1.2 HR/9.
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) July 10, 2022
On an individual level, the M’s high-leverage core of Erik Swanson (1.84 FIP), Andrés Muñoz (2.04), and Paul Sewald (3.88) are better equipped than Toronto’s late-inning trio of Yimi García (3.47), Anthony Bass (4.63), and Jordan Romano (2.82).
In the playoffs, bullpens are pushed to the point of exhaustion. During this regular season, Toronto’s relievers have worked nearly 70 more innings than Seattle’s ‘pen arms, which flips the fatigue advantage heavily in the Mariners’ favor. In high-leverage situations, which are bound to pop up often in October, the Mariners are also much better than the Jays, outdoing Toronto in FIP (3.35 vs 4.18) and opponent batting average (.196 vs .267).
The sophomore Manoah hasn’t faced Seattle a ton. Only switch-hitter Carlos Santana has any noteworthy stats versus the big right-hander (2-for-7 with one home run). Santana is also slashing an outrageous .500/.600/1.100 against Toronto this season. Since opposing managers love to stack lefties against Manoah, watch for Santana to be a key player in Game 1.
Few players in baseball have had more success off Castillo, Seattle’s Game 1 starter, than Raimel Tapia. The Blue Jays outfielder is batting 7-for-11 versus the righty with three extra-base hits, including a home run. With Lourdes Gurriel Jr. out, Tapia has been getting everyday reps, so expect him to take some big hacks on Friday.
Despite enduring a career-worst season in 2022, Mariners utility man Adam Frazier has had past success against Toronto pitchers. He’s 13-for-32 (.406 BA) in his career versus Gausman and 5-for-6 against Ross Stripling.
George Springer is the Mariner-killer on the Blue Jays side. The centre fielder is 6-for-15 with two homers against Ray (1.404 OPS). He’s also 3-for-7 with one homer and four RBIs versus Gilbert.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 10, 2022
Defense and running game
Whether you prefer Outs Above Average (OAA) or Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), both metrics rank the Blue Jays and Mariners in similar defensive tiers. As a club, the M’s are 17th in OOA (+2) and 10th in DRS (38). The Blue Jays sit 10th in OAA (+8) and eighth in DRS (43). The Blue Jays have a superior infield (+11 OAA) but an inferior outfield (-2 OAA) when compared to the Mariners’ infield (-3 OAA) and outfield groups (+5).
On the basepaths, Seattle runs a little bit more, attempting 110 steals (75 percent success rate) this season compared to Toronto’s 102 attempts (66 per cent success rate).
As a club, the Blue Jays and Mariners have both caught base-stealers at a 28-percent clip.
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