The Seattle Mariners are in the midst of a rebuild but are sitting at 4-4 to begin the 2021 season. A lot of the focus is on the youth preparing to be called up, but there is a good amount of talent in Seattle. Kevin Mather had a great time talking about the young talent before being fired a few weeks before the season began. Righty Chris Flexen is coming off a good first start where he pitched five shutout innings where he allowed four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in his return from the KBO.
The Minnesota Twins are 5-3 this season and the team is looking good. They really haven’t made changes in their offense, but the back-end of the rotation has been changed with a couple of veterans. They will be sending their right-hander veteran Matt Shoemaker to the mound for this game and is coming off a win where he pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Milwaukee Brewers as he allowed three hits and five punchouts.
Take the Next StepThe Seattle Mariners need to take the next step as a franchise here as they are waiting for the next group of young guys to join this core. The storyline will be Kyle Seager after former front office executive Kevin Mather saying he was all but gone at the end of this season. He is the veteran in the offense that can pick it at third base. They didn’t add anyone to the lineup from last season after being bottom-five in baseball in both OBP and OPS. He is 7-for-31 with four RBI and a stolen base in eight games to begin the 2021 season. They need to get their offense going if they want to be able to go here.
Chris Flexen has had a bad first start according to Baseball Savant as well. He is in the 14th percentile in barrel percentage, 20th percentile in whiff percentage, 40th percentile in walk percentage, and the 42nd percentile in xERA. He was making hitters make soft contact as he only allowed nine barrels in 89 batted balls since 208. Flexen relies on a four-pitch arsenal (fastball, cutter, changeup, curveball). He needs to focus on first-pitch strikes to get ahead in the count as he did that to 55 percent of batters in his first start. He has never pitched against the Minnesota Twins in his career but has a 9.00 ERA in 40 career innings on the road so he will need to step up here.
Ages Like Fine WineThe Minnesota Twins need to make some noise in the postseason as they are notorious for their struggles there. One of the moves they made was to bring back DH Nelson Cruz, who is known for hitting bombs. Cruz finished the 2020 campaign with a .303/.397/.595 slash line with 16 homers and 33 RBI. So far this season, he is 11-for-24 with four homers and nine RBI. With the same lineup as last season for the most part except the addition of Andrelton Simmons, he should be able to have a bunch of chances with runners in scoring position. It will be interesting to see how he will fare in a full season after playing just 53 games in 2020. If he can figure out how to bring his bat and his 417 career homers, it will do wonders for the Minnesota Twins.
Matt Shoemaker has started his 2021 season on a bad note according to his Baseball Savant page. He is in the ninth percentile in average exit velocity, 25th percentile in whiff percentage, 33rd percentile in hard-hit percentage, and 13th percentile in barrel percentage. Shoemaker has a five-pitch arsenal (splitter, fastball, slider, sinker, curveball) and he increased his fastball usage in his first start. He is 4-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) so it will be interesting to see how he fares against this team.
Trends found on Covers.com
- Minnesota: 5-1 in their last 6 games
- Minnesota: 22-8 in their last 30 home games
- Seattle: 31-63 in their last 94 games as a road underdog
- Seattle: 33-67 in their last 100 road games