On Deck: Seattle Mariners

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On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2016 season. 

The Opponent: At this time last year, the Mariners were the favorites to win the AL West after an off-season of roster overhaul, including the signing of Nelson Cruz. They fell flat on their faces, finishing a distant fourth. Now, the expectation is they should be better this year, but can they keep pace with the Rangers and Astros?

Past Meetings: Despite the Mariners' rough season in 2015, they did win the season series 12-7 over the AL West champions.

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Pitching Matchups: Monday — Felix Hernandez (18-9, 3.53 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (13-8, 3.65); Tuesday — Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5, 3.54) vs. Martin Perez (3-6, 4.46); Wednesday — Wade Miley (11-11, 4.46) vs. Colby Lewis (17-9, 4.66).

What's Hot: The Rangers have traditionally been very good against Felix Hernandez, but last year, that wasn't the case. Hernandez owned the Rangers on several occasions. The Rangers have never had success against Hisashi Iwakuma, and that continued last year after Iwakuma got healthy. Now, that's what awaits the Rangers in their first two games of the season. Nelson Cruz mashed his former team last year and Kyle Seager is one of the off-time Ranger killers.

Rougned Odor picked up this spring where he left off last season as one of the best hitters in baseball over the final few months of the season. Ian Desmond had a tremendous spring after being brought in and converted from shortstop to outfield after several years of decline with the Nationals.

What's Not: The Mariners took on the Rangers' disappointment when they traded for Leonys Martin this winter, and he should hold down the starting center fielder's job thanks in large part to his defense.

Cole Hamels wasn't awful against the Mariners last year, but it was without question his toughest team to face after joining the Rangers at the trade deadline.

Familiar Faces: Leonys Martin and Nelson Cruz are both former Rangers starters who are now taking the field for the Mariners, while Martin was sent to Seattle in exchange for former Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who helped bolster an already deep Rangers bullpen.

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