We took one on the chin yesterday with these Mariners taking down the favored White Sox by an 8-4 count.
Both starters struggled. Dallas Keuchel allowed three runs and walked three in five innings, but Justin Dunn walked a whopping eight hitters while allowing three runs in his 4.2 innings of work.
A big reason why I backed Chicago was the bullpen advantage, but that’s exactly what cost us. Matt Foster’s five earned runs allowed in just 0.2 innings of work in the sixth was a major blow as Seattle would score seven six-inning runs and that was all she wrote.
Moneyline Betting Odds: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners (+180)
Minnesota Twins (-210)
Run Line Betting Odds: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners +1.5 (-115)
Minnesota Twins -1.5 (-105)
Over/Under Betting Odds: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
Over 8 Runs (-120)
Under 8 Runs (-120)
Theoretically, the White Sox should beat the Mariners every time given the advantages in pitching and on offense, but that’s not how this league works as the variance is more than any other sport.
Getting the nod for the Mariners in this one is ace Marco Gonzales who has been everything Seattle hoped he could be after they acquired the former top prospect from the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2017 season, at least until his Opening Day start here in 2021.
In his first full season with the club, Gonzales worked to a 4.00 ERA/3.43 FIP. The following year, 2019, he posted a nearly-identical 3.99 ERA with a solid 4.15 FIP. In 2020, he took his game to a new level in a smaller, 11-start sample as he turned in a 3.10 ERA/3.32 FIP with his 9.14 K/BB ratio leading all of Major League Baseball.
Gonzales was roughed up against the Giants a week ago, however, as he yielded five earned runs on eight hits — including three homers — in six innings of work. He didn’t give up a lot of hard contact at just 31.8%, but 37.5% of the fly-balls he allowed left the yard.
Gonzales doesn’t wow with velocity, but has impeccable command of the strike zone given his 0.90 BB/9 from last season and his 1.73 mark from his first full season in Seattle. You’ll take his career 2.26 BB/9 all season long.
For one of the more underrated, consistent starters in baseball, it shouldn’t be lone before the southpaw bounces back.
The Mariners’ offense continues to be inconsistent in the early going this season, but they were on the right side of that inconsistent play when scoring eight runs last night. It’s the second time this season they’ve scored eight runs as they also did so against the Giants on Opening Day, but in their other four games they’ve averaged just 2.75 runs per game and have already been shutout once in six games.
It’s an offense that is without 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis to open the season, and one that is also without a trendy breakout candidate in Evan White due to a quad issue.
As I noted yesterday, there’s optimism for the future in this lineup with Lewis, White, Ty France, Dylan Moore, Taylor Trammel and top prospect Jarred Kelenic waiting in the wings at the alternate training site.
It would appear, however, this group needs some seasoning before realizing their potential in the big leagues as they ranked 28th with a .298 wOBA last season and are off to an inconsistent start here in 2021.
The Mariners’ bullpen also ranked among the worst in baseball last season with a 28th-ranked 5.92 ERA and MLB-worst 5.08 BB/9, and there weren’t exactly a ton of reinforcements brought in.
Rafael Montero and Keynan Middleton were two arms with ninth-inning experience that were brought in, but as I mentioned yesterday, FanGraphs is projecting just three Mariners relievers to be above replacement level this season and Montero the only one above 0.3 fWAR.
They sure did get the job done last night, but that one-run performance lowered the group’s ERA to just 4.67 as they look to see who can perhaps be a long-term bullpen piece moving forward.
The Twins enter this series with Seattle on the heels of taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers this week, although the final two games were certainly hard-fought after blowing the Tigers out of the water in the opener by a 15-6 count.
This afternoon, they will trot out right-hander Jose Berrios to the mound for his second start of the 2021 season and boy was he good in the first one.
He and Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes traded blows back and forth in the best pitching duel of the 2021 season so far. In fact, Berrios didn’t allow a single hit while striking out 12 in that one, but as we’ll see plenty moving forward, no-hit bids are going to end early in favor of the pitcher’s health, especially this early in the season before pitch counts are fully built up.
Nonetheless, Berrios’ potential 2021 breakout began on a fabulous note. He’s still just 26 years old, but it was a mild disappointment to see him slip to a 4.00 ERA/4.06 FIP with a 4.45 xERA after two years of posting an ERA of 3.84 or better. The former top prospect is chock-full of potential, and we’ll see if he continues to realize it in this one today.
The Twins set an MLB home run record in the 2019 season, but saw their offense slip towards the middle of the pack in the truncated 2020 season.
They’ve found their stroke early in the 2021 season, however, as they sit fifth with a .341 wOBA on the early going while averaging six runs per game so far.
The offense is potent from a power standpoint, but it’s also a pesky Twins lineup. Nelson Cruz has flexed plenty of muscle early on and terrorized the Tigers with three homers in the first two games of their three-man set this week. However, bats such as Luis Arraez, Willians Astudillo and newcomer Andrelton Simmons simply do not strike out much at all and are elite contact hitters.
With speed, power and contact to boot, this Twins lineup appears to be closer to the 2019 version than the 2020 one.
Watch as We Go
If the Twins are going to take a crack at their third straight AL Central crown, they’ll need every bit of their bullpen that’s been well within the league’s top 10 in each of the last two seasons.
It’s been a fine start for the group as they’ve posted a ninth-ranked ERA so far while their 3.25 FIP and 2.70 xFIP suggest they deserve their work to this point.
They brought in closer Alex Colome from the White Sox the offseason, but this is a bullpen that lost plenty of high-leverage arms from last season.
Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, Sergio Romo and Matt Wisler are four right-handers that played big roles in the 2020 Twins bullpen and did yeoman’s work in the process. With that group out of the picture, Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers will be leaned upon in high-leverage situations alongside Colome in the later innings.
I’m curious to watch this bullpen perform as the season moves along as I believe it’s the x-factor in whether or not they can reach the peak of the AL Central again this time around.
Mariners vs Twins MLB Pick
The Mariners’ offense found their sticks in yesterday’s win, but their generally hasn’t been much to hang your hat on when it comes to this group, and they’re missing two key young bats in Lewis and White in this one.
On the flip side, the Twins can rake for sure, but they also scored just three runs in each of their last two games and that came against one of the weaker pitching staffs in the league in those Detroit Tigers.
For me, this comes down to pitching, and I trust both of these arms. Gonzales’ work from the last three seasons indicates his rough Opening Day was merely a blip on the radar. He allowed three homers in that one, but also owns a career 1.10 HR/9 clip and has been at 1.02 HR/9 or better in each of his three full seasons with the Mariners so far. Home run issues are just not a part of his game.
And then there’s Berrios. His start in Milwaukee last week was clearly dominant, but I’m more encouraged about his home splits. In his career on the road, Berrios owns a 4.71 ERA/4.79 FIP with a 1.52 HR/9 and a 2.48 K/BB ratio. However, at home, Berrios owns a career 3.57 ERA/3.29 FIP with a 0.80 HR/9 and 3.76 K/BB ratio.
In his age-26 season, the breakout could very well come here in 2021. He’s been good in his career so far, but not a superstar by any means. He’s long had that potential and it’s possible he’ll put it all together this season.
For me, this one is a low-scoring affair despite a weak Mariners bullpen and strong Minnesota offense, the lone two areas that would concern me here. Nonetheless, I’ll trust the starters here, especially Berrios who I expected to shut down this Mariners offense and keep the total Under 8. If you are looking for some additional MLB betting value check out our Red Sox at Orioles pick here.
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