Series No. 4 Preview: Mariners vs. Detroit, in Seattle

The Mariners take on the Tigers, after Jason Vargas helped lead the team to its first set of consecutive victories.

Everyone preached pitching and defense this offseason. Jack Zduriencik’s praises have their own choir. But the problem with pitching and defense is that it relies on a few variables that can make them look like a crappy combination in the short term.

Occasionally teams with good pitching and defense pitch poorly and play bad defense, but ultimately, the model is so fragile, that while it may stand the test of time, it will struggle if time is limited to the first eight games of the season.

Calm the mass hysteria, the offense and defense will be better. Oakland’s pitching staff can do a lot to throw wrenches in an already under-powered offense that the Mariners have, and Texas can do a lot of things at the plate that hurt the Mariners.

The Tigers are a much better litmus test.

Game 1: Felix Day vs. Pasco Product

Mariners

Felix Hernandez

0-0, 0.1 WAR

3.29 ERA, 4.43 FIP

.217 BAA, .250 BABIP

13.2 IP in two starts

Tigers

Jeremy Bonderman

1-0, 0.2 WAR

1.80 ERA, 2.24 FIP

.063 BAA, .091 BABIP

5 IP in one start

Game 2: Another Cy Young candidate vs. The Hyphen

Mariners

Ryan Rowland-Smith

0-1, -0.2 WAR

5.25 ERA, 6.62 FIP

.268 BAA, .225 BABIP

12.0 IP in two starts

Tigers

Justin Verlander

0-0, 0 WAR

9.00 ERA, 5.04 FIP

.289 BAA, .321 BABIP

10 IP in two starts

Game 3: Unlimited vs. Unfulfilled potential

Mariners

Ian Snell

0-1, -0.1 WAR

5.00 ERA, 6.71 FIP

.324 BAA, .313 BABIP

9 IP in two starts

Tigers

Max Scherzer

0-1, 0.1 WAR

1.64 ERA, 4.77 FIP

.256 BAA, .281 BABIP

11 IP in two starts

Right now, the Tigers are what the Mariners would look like with a better offense and slightly worse defense. Miguel Cabrera has started the season strong (1.141 OPS, 2 homers) and Magglio Ordonez has paid the power bill that apparently went delinquent last year (3 home runs in 44 PA, compared to 9 in 518 last year).

The team has Austin Jackson in center field now, and while losing Curtis Granderson is tough, both Jackson and fellow newcomer Jonny Damon should help improve the team’s outfield. The team is strong around the infield, but can hit pretty well at most positions.

They’ve got a rotation full of question marks. The difference is that guys like Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have a much higher ceiling than the Hyphens and Snells of the world.

However, the friendly confines in Seattle should help to neutralize some of that offense, and the Tigers don’t have a pitcher who matches up well against the Mariners lineup, though Verlander is a good matchup versus about anyone.