Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan

(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (42-37) open a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians (38-40) looking to get back to their winning ways. Yes, winning ways and the Seattle Mariners. Winning. Mariners. It’s happening. Say it aloud, it’s not as difficult to believe when you hear your own voice projecting such a fact.

The club will get a key player back for Game 1 of the series, boosting the lineup and giving back skipper Lloyd McClendon one of his regular bats.

The Indians have been among the more inconsistent teams in the American League this season, but they can score runs — 4.49 runs per contest is No. 5 in the circuit — and lead the league in that category in June. There’s power, speed and defense on manager Terry Francona’s roster, there’s just not a lot of good starting pitching, and the M’s will miss the Indians’ best starter, right-hander Corey Kluber.

Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Friday: Chris Young, RHP vs. Trevor Bauer, RHP
Young has bounced back — again — from a couple of sub par outings to go six scoreless against the San Diego Padres and seven strong frames at Kansas City. He’s stayed away from the plate and mixed in his slider and lineups just haven’t quite figured out how to deal with that.

When the veteran doesn’t make mistakes he’s a legitimate No. 4 starter.

Young vs. Indians
Michael Bourn: 3-7, 2B, BB, SO
Nick Swisher: 4-10, 2-2B, HR, BB, 2 SO

Young Splits
LHB: .218/.299/.374, 6 HR
RHB: .209/.278/.388, 6 HR
Home: 2.23 ERA, 4 HR, .173 BAA
Road: 4.29 ERA, 8 HR, .255 BAA

Scouting Trevor Bauer
Grades reflect 20-80 scouting scale; 80 is outstanding, among league’s best, 50 is major-league average, 20 is poor, not in line with big-league standards.
Four-seam Fastball (93-96 mph) : 65
Two-seam Fastball (91-94) : 50
Slider (81-83) : 45
Cutter (76-80) : 60
Changeup (83-86) : 40
Control: 45
Command: 45

Bauer can touch 99 mph with his four-seamer and his two-seamer is really a four-seam fastball that he gets on the side of a bit, but it’s effective and sets up the plus curveball.

He’s over the top but the ball jumps out of his hand and his delivery creates a late look, making 95 look like 100. Bauer’s main issue is control and command within the zone, particularly early in the count.

If he gets a hitter to two strikes, Bauer will bury the occasional slider or changeup, or climb the ladder with his fastball. The curveball is his strikeout pitch, generating swings and misses out of the zone and fooling hitters within it.

Bauer has not faced the Mariners and has faced just one hitter in the Seattle lineup — Robinson Cano (1-3, SO).

Bauer Splits
LHB: .262/.351/.415, 3 HR
RHB: .281/.325/.491, 5 HR
Home: 3.48 ERA, 5 HR, .261 BAA
Road: 6.19 ERA, 3 HR, .300 BAA

Saturday: Roenis Elias, LHP vs. Josh Tomlin, RHP

Scouting Josh Tomlin
Four-seam Fastball (87-90 mph): 40
Cutter (84-86): 45
Sinker (78-81): 45
Curveball(73-76): 50
Changeup (80-83): 40
Control: 60
Command: 50

Tomlin doesn’t offer much in terms of stuff but when he keeps the ball down and lives on the edges he can skate through a mediocre lineup three times and hand the ball to the bullpen with a lead.

The right-hander’s sinker once was his key pitch but he’s throwing more four-seamers and curveballs this season and it’s been an improvement over his last full season two years ago.

Tomlin vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 3-7, 2B, 4 SO
Willie Bloomquist: 2-3, 2B
Robinson Cano: 5-11, 2-2B, HR, 2 SO
Endy Chavez: 0-2, SO
Michael Saunders: 2-4, 2B, BB
Kyle Seager: 4-6, 4-2B

Sunday: Felix Hernandez, RHP vs. TBA
What else can be said about Hernandez, who hasn’t posted a FIP over 3.24 in any start since May, a span of nine consecutive starts. He’s pitched into the seventh inning or later in 10 straight outings and has gone fewer than six frames in just one of his 17 starts.

King Felix has dominated the American League this season, leading the majors in FIP (1.95), fWAR (4.5) and WHIP (0.95) and ranking second in strikeouts (128) and innings (120 1/3).

Hernandez has had problems with a good portion of the Indians’ hitters:

Hernandez vs. Indians
Mike Aviles: 7-17, 2-2B, 4 SO
Bourn: 2-3, 2B, SO
Swisher: 11-51 (.216), 2-2B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 12 SO
Michael Brantley: 8-20, 2B, HR, BB, 3 SO
Asdrubal Cabrera: 3-17, 2B, BB, 4 SO
Lonnie Chisenhall: 1-3, 2B, SO
Jason Kipnis: 6-14, 2-2B, 3 SO
George Kottaras: 2-5, HR, 2 SO
David Murphy: 24-75 (.320), 6-2B, 3 HR, 4 BB, 16 SO
Ryan Raburn: 0-6, 4 SO
Carlos Santana: 3-14, 2-2B, BB, SO

Hernandez Splits
LHB: .220/.257/.280, HR
RHB: .207/.241/.309, 3 HR
Home: 2.45 ERA, 2 HR, .204 BAA
Road: 2.04 ERA, 2 HR, .225 BAA

Sandmeyer Says | Steve Sandmeyer, 1090 The Fan
At first glance, it’s nice to see diverse stuff going for the M’s this series. Chris Young is a fly ball pitcher who doesn’t overwhelm anyone and uses his six-foot-ten frame to his advantage. He is effective in completely different ways than the other two starters this weekend. Then, you throw a left-hander like Elias the next night — with an above average fastball and breaking ball from the left side — complete with a changeup that is slowly becoming a very nice weapon for him. Finally, Felix goes in the finale on Sunday. He is good at baseball.

I hope Saunders is able to hit the ground running now that his shoulder is better and he’s off the DL. When he’s healthy (and that has been a question over his career), he can hit. Another player that has been playing better is Brad Miller. He recently had a seven-game hitting streak snapped before hitting a home run two nights ago against Boston. His average and slash line have dramatically improved over the past five weeks. Once written off, Miller has become a viable option at shortstop for this team.

All in all, the Mariners are in good position, having benefitted from an off day yesterday and another off day coming up next Thursday. Furthermore, after next week’s road trip through Houston and Chicago, the team will have a chance to surge into the All-Star break by hosting a seven-game home stand, including four against Minnesota and three against Oakland, who like Felix, is good at baseball.

Key Notes | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Kyle Seager continues to rake at Safeco Field, and I don’t mean the leaves the blow in from the corner of Edgar and Dave. Seager enters play Friday batting .341/.416/.659 at home with 11 of his 12 home runs. The third baseman is having a great June — .295/.337/.547, 14 extra-base hits — and he’s hit right-handed pitching most of the season (.278/.365/.574) … Since returning from the disabled list, first baseman Logan Morrison is 13-for-51 with a pair of doubles and four home runs. He’s also walked five times against 11 strikeouts. In the past week, Morrison is batting .364 with three long balls and a 3-3 BB/K ratio … Endy Chavez has eight hits in his last 21 at-bats, three of those for extra bases. He’s struck out just once in that span, giving skipper Lloyd McClendon a viable option off the bench once the team is fully healthy … Fernando Rodney, sponsor of the Fernando Rodney Experience, has yielded just one earned run since May 13. Over that stretch, Rodney has fanned 13 and induced 24 ground ball outs to 11 fly ball outs … Willie Bloomquist is batting .357 in June and it’s not all singles. The Kitsap County product has four doubles this month and has six multi-hit games, behind only Cano, Seager and James Jones among Mariners … Catcher Mike Zunino has homered three or more times in each of his last four full months in the big leagues, dating back to last September. The second-year backstop leads all American League catchers in home runs with 11 and is second with 25 extra-base hits. Oh, and he’s the youngest starting catcher in all of Major League Baseball at 23, or 23.094, as Steve Sandmeyer prefers via Baseball Reference.

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