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Playing With Matchups: Mariners vs. RHP

Yesterday, I wrote about how bad the M's offense has been and is projected to be, and in particular how they fare against LHP.  In short, an already crappy offense loses two of its three best bats and ends up below replacement level at 1B and DH.  Against RHP, they get the best General Soreness and Russell Branyan can currently offer.  PECOTA pegs Griffey at .254/.356/.444 vs. righties and Branyan at .245/.351/.534.  The two obviously provide much needed OBP and SLG for a team nearly bereft of such offensive necessities.

They are however the only notable lefties Seattle can bring to bear outside of Ichiro (and he's got fairly even splits besides).  Endy Chavez can be a nuisance, but he's there for his defense.  So while the Mariners do get back much of their pop, they're still a righty-oriented lineup with a lot of outs to be had.  For example, their best non-Ichiro player, Adrian Beltre, has a career .269/.318/.458 line against RHP.  Jose Lopez: .266/.297/.397.  Outside of Ichiro, Branyan and Griffey, they really just can't hit.

This suggests a pretty obvious strategy: pitch around Branyan.  Ichiro is wily.  I'm sure he's going to run all over a Colon-Pierzynski battery and will likely not have much of a problem with El Grande's assortment of fastballs.  But a walk is worse than forcing the ball to be put in play by a guy with little power.  Runs aren't going to come in bunches, though, unless Branyan has something to do with it (outside of a funtastic single-double fest courtesy of BABIP and spotty command, anyway). He's going to have no problem sizing up a 90-92 mph fastball, especially since there's no accompanying change-up.  Griffey on the other hand has batspeed issues.  Get under his hands and then work low and away and he's probably an out.  The rest of them are contact-type hitters that are going to have success depending on the command of the opposing RHP.  If we lose, it's probably not going to come on a HR fest.