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Series Preview: Home Away From Home

The Seattle Mariners are still bad, right?! Nope! Despite playing a huge role in turning Toronto’s early season disaster around, the Mariners have also gotten hot since the middle of May and have currently won nine of their last 11 games.

Friday at 10:10 ET

As we know from the last time we saw them back in that season-altering sweep mid-May, the Mariners’ pitching staff has been completely decimated by injury. They’ve already used 12 different starters as Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly, James Paxton, and Yovani Gallardo have spent time on the disabled list. On Friday night, they’ll trot out Sam Gavigilo. Gavigilo, a right-handed tosser with average stuff, was drafted in the 40th round (!!!) by the Rays back in 2008 and was acquired by the Mariners in a swap for Blue Jays legend Ty Kelly. He’s made five starts so far this season, and in his big league career in total, posting a solid 3.13 ERA, though his peripherals, like the 5.5 strikeouts per nine, suggest he’s due for a regression.

Joe Biagini, coming off the best start of his young career, will oppose Gavigilo. Last week against the Yankees, Biaigin pitched a damn good game, but ended up with the loss because the bats were completely limp. Through six games as a starter, Biagini has allowed 11 runs over 30 1/3 innings, and five of them came in one game against the Braves. Eventually he’ll have to go back to the ‘pen, but Biagini has been better than anybody could have expected so far as a starter.

Saturday at 10:10 ET

Ariel Miranda is one of those random stopgap pitchers we’ve seen the Mariners roll with before. Back in May series, Miranda walked the tightrope against the Jays, ultimately going five innings with the only damage coming on a two-run Justin Smoak bomb. Since then, though, Miranda has been great. In his last four starts, he hasn’t allowed more than two runs, and most recently he dominated the Rays, holding them to four runs over nine complete innings. Miranda’s peripherals are solid, but one thing he does struggle with, as we saw in May, is command.

Marcus Stroman has been ridiculously consistent recently. Since that start in New York when he was pulled after three innings with the arm issue, Stroman has only allowed more than two runs once and has made it at least five-and-two-thirds innings six times in a row. One of those starts came against the Mariners, in which Stroman held Seattle to two runs over six innings while recording nine strikeouts.

Sunday at 4:10 ET

Fortunately for the Jays, James Paxton was injured when Seattle came to town in May, unfortunately, they aren’t going to be able to dodge him this time. Paxton has been ridiculous this season. Like, Cy Young level ridiculous. Through eight games, the former Blue Jays first round pick who didn’t sign with his country’s team, has a 1.69 ERA and is striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings. Paxton usually relied on a four-seam fastball, but this year has cut down on its usage and has tossed a knuckle-curve with more frequency.

J.A. Happ missed a good chunk of the season with an elbow issue and has made two starts since being taken off the disabled list. He allowed two runs in four innings against the Reds and five runs over five-and-one-third against the A’s, with a somewhat worrying amount of the damage coming via the long ball. Still, Happ only made one rehab start before coming off the DL, so it’s inevitably going to be a sort of long climb back to where he’s usually at.

Thoughts…

See that picture I used for the header image? That’s at Safeco Field in Seattle. Jays fans travel very, very well, but there’s no better home-on-the-road ballpark than Safeco. Every year when the Jays head west, fans from B.C., Alberta, and elsewhere in Western Canada follow them and completely dominate the stadium. The Jays had a difficult time against the A’s, looking sluggish and tired as they generally do while playing on the Death Coast, but hopefully the home crowd can give them a bit of a boost in what’ll be about as bit of a series in June as you can have.

The Jays have been sort of a mixed bag in Seattle recently. In 2014, they got swept, which was essentially a dagger in their season. In 2015, though it came before the legendary trade deadline, they won one of three. Last year, they won two of three, massively helping their playoff push. Does that mean they’re on pace for a sweep in 2017?!