FEATURE
2034 Playoff Breakdowns: Can Seattle Upset Brooklyn?
Seattle has one major advantage over the Pats.
by GETER PAMMONS

Starting Lineup

Offensively, this matchup will be a battle of two opposing styles: ‘boom or bust’ vs a more balanced attack. Seattle was bottom half in the league in terms of getting on base, but its home run power has the Mariners sitting with the ninth best offense in the league heading into the postseason. Meanwhile, Brooklyn finished in the top six of batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored.

Seattle’s home run power could swing a game or two, but Brooklyn’s consistency should prevail over the course of a long series. It’s also worth noting that star slugger Tim Eisenberg now plays for the Emperors — without his pre-trade deadline HR count of 22 homers, the Mariners would be just tied for eighth in long balls.

Advantage: Brooklyn

Rotation

Neither of these teams have great pitching or defensive numbers, but Seattle does place in the top half of runs against, starters ERA and bullpen ERA. The big question in the playoffs is this: How many reliable starters do you have? Some teams could get away with only two or three in the first round, but it’s always nice to have a fourth guy you can count on.

Seattle’s rotation is young and inexperienced, but it sure is promising. It’s not quite clear yet who the Ms will go with on the bump in the first round, but they should have at least four quality options. Veterans Alex Gutierrez and Josh Yoneda appear to be sturdy, while young guns like Miyamoto and Sakamoto are risky, but potentially rewarding plays. Brooklyn has far fewer options, and even former Cy Young candidate Luigi Rowling has struggled with a porous defense behind him.

Advantage: Seattle

Bullpen

The bullpen question is a similar one to the rotation — how many backend arms do you have that you can trust? Despite having the 22nd ranked bullpen, Brooklyn does have stud closer Franklin Gamboa to nail down the ninth. Tong Loh and Onfrio Tuzzi have done well in setup roles, but Brooklyn has struggled when relying on Vinny Rios and Yung-Chul Pak in the middle innings. That said, Hector Miramontes appears reliable and Jon Palma isn’t an awful lefty specialist.

For Seattle, Yoshiie Sakamoto has shown off elite stuff in the closer role this season, but sources say he will be moving into the rotation for this playoff matchup. Still, the Mariners don’t have any holes in the bullpen, and Danny Aguliar will have no problem transitioning to the ninth. Al Langdon, Wang Goei and Manny Gutierrez have also proven to be reliable. It’s closer than the ERA’s would indicate, but Seattle takes this matchup just because it has fewer holes.

Advantage: Seattle

Final Prediction

This series is going to be decided by how Brooklyn’s top five hitters perform. If they’re effective vs Seattle’s pitching staff, the Pats should be able to dance into the second round. If not, the Mariners will have enough power and defense to slide in and pull off the upset.

Here’s the x-factor for me, which could ultimately turn out to be meaningless: Brooklyn is an astounding 36-9 and this season vs left handed pitching (by far the best in the league) but an underwhelming 53-63 vs righties. The problem for the Pats? None of Seattle’s starters are Southpaws and the Ms deploy only one lefty on a regular basis out of the bullpen. This will be a tight series, but ultimately, this looks like a bad matchup for Brooklyn.

Pick: Seattle in 6