Photo Credit: Drew Sellers/Sportspress Northwest
This is the third installment in a series of Mariners cross-promotional articles. Staff writer Patrick Leary along with Anthony Davis have started a new blog at http://wayoutnleftfield.blogspot.com/. They will be previewing each Mariners series throughout the season. Here, you can check out a portion of their work. To read the rest of each series preview, head over to their blog.
Wow. I'm actually writing a series preview about games that matter. This is awesome. Way Out's season preview will go up next week, when the season really gets underway across the country, but for now, the M's have two games that actually count, and they get to play the A's, the only team the 2011 Mariners looked consistently better than. The Mariners and Athletics clash on March 28 and 29 in a two game series in the Tokyo Dome.
March 28: Felix Hernandez vs. Brandon McCarthy
Who? Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Brandon McCarthy, a journeyman starter who has never won ten games in a season, graced the cover of the analytics issue of ESPN the magazine back in January, posing with his really attractive model wife. "Chicks dig the ground ball" was the tag line on the cover. You know what else chicks dig Brandon? Cy Young awards. On paper, Felix should win this showdown most of the time. Even though Felix got rocked in his final start before the trip, he will be fine and pitch back to form. The A's will struggle to get hits against Felix, who will likely pitch deep into the game. McCarthy will need to match him for the A's to have any hope on "Opening Day."
March 29: Jason Vargas vs. Bartolo Colon
Bartolo Colon continues to mystify me. The very fact that this guy is still pitching is a miracle. He actually won a Cy Young in his heyday with Cleveland. But his pumpkin shape caught up to him, and he disappeared from baseball, before resurfacing in 2011 with the Yankees, who cut him after a few months with the occasional flash of brilliance. Jason Vargas is far more interesting, since he has two distinct pitching personas that can show up on any given Vargas. We'll refer to them as Dr. Jason and Mr. Vargas. Last start, Mr. Vargas showed up, as he didn't escape the first inning, while allowing eight runs in the process. The Mariners will need a whole lot more of Dr. Jason this season to play .500 ball. Both of these pitchers are volatile, and the winner of this game will be the team whose pitcher's good side shows up to the ballpark.