The Mariners and Twins weren't supposed to have much in common this season but they are both near the bottom of their divisions. The M's are -155 favorites on MLB odds for Saturday's game.
What You Need To Know
The Twins have a small payroll, were expected to finish last in the AL Central and they probably will. Their pitching staff has been one of the worst in the majors over the past few years and it is again in 2015 with a team ERA of 4.64 entering Friday. Opposing batters are hitting .273 against the Twins; only Rangers pitchers allow a worse average. Offensively the Twins were a pleasant surprise in 2014 but that hasn't been the case this season, ranking near the bottom of the majors in runs and dead last in homers. They don't have a regular hitting .300 or anyone with more than two dingers. Five regulars (or semi-regulars) -- Kurt Suzuki, Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia, Eduardo Escobar and Jordan Schafer -- are under .200. When will the team call up the No. 1 prospect in baseball, outfielder Bryon Buxton?
That the Mariners are languishing in the AL West is a shock as many had them as AL pennant contenders after adding Nelson Cruz this offseason. The offense still is below average in runs scored despite Cruz leading the majors in home runs (eight) and RBIs (17) entering Friday. Starters Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino are well below the Mendoza Line and Cruz is the only regular above .300. Seattle had one of the majors' best pitching staffs last year but that has been the main issue as the M's were 28th in team ERA entering Friday. Starters Hisashi Iwakuma, highly touted youngster Taijuan Walker and James Paxton have really struggled as has closer Fernando Rodney, although Rodney has been better of late. The Mariners are in a win-now mode so they will go out and trade for whatever they need later this summer if need be.
It's not exactly a glamorous matchup of aces like Friday night's series opener between Phil Hughes and Felix Hernandez was. For Minnesota, it's 25-year-old right-hander Trevor May (1-1, 4.76), who is from the state of Washington so this should have extra meaning. May started the season in Triple-A but was called up a few weeks ago when Ricky Nolasco landed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. May's first start wasn't good as he allowed five runs and eight hits over 5.1 innings in a home loss to Kansas City. He was very good last time out, allowing one run and four hits over six innings at home vs. Cleveland, striking out four and walking none. As a rookie last year (he pitched 45.2 innings) on the road, May struggled with a 2-3 record and 7.62 ERA in 26.0 innings. Then again he wasn't good at home in 2014, either. He has never faced Seattle. The only Mariner who has in the regular season is Cruz, who is 0-for-2 with a strikeout against May. In May's past 11 starts, the 'over' his hit nine times on MLB odds.
The Mariners go with the 26-year-old Canadian lefty Paxton. He was excellent last year as a rookie, going 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts over 74.0 innings. He allowed only three home runs and 60 hits. Paxton didn't face the Twins. He has regressed thus far in 2015. He pitched well in his season debut, giving up two runs and four hits against the Angles. However, in start No. 2 he allowed five runs and six hits in 6.1 innings at the Dodgers. And last time out, Paxton was bombed for seven runs and 10 hits in 2.2 innings against the Rangers, although the offense bailed him out of a loss. The only Twins regular who has ever faced Paxton is Torii Hunter and he has a solo homer in five at-bats. Seattle is 7-1 in Paxton's past eight starts during Game 2 of a series.
MLB Free Picks: The Mariners really shouldn't be losing at home to a team like the Twins. This is where you climb back toward 500. Take Seattle with your MLB picks and the 'over.' It has hit in the Twins' past five against left-handers.