photo credit: lookoutlanding
We have the bats
The Mariners have well exceeded expectations this season, their batting has improved greatly. Even though their batting average has been similar to last year at .258 (5th best in the MLB) the clutch hitting has resulted in far more wins this year. Improvements are clearly visible at bat with All-Star Mitch Haniger having already exceeded as many home runs as he did last season–oh and by the way, the whole team already has half the home runs they hit last season.
Another All-Star in Jean Segura, who is having a monster season, is also a big reason for the Mariners success. He improved his average from .300 (already great) to .326, third best in the American League. The acquisition of newly minted All-Star Dee Gordon has also helped out a ton. Many fans were at first skeptical when they put him in center field mainly because he had never played there in his career, but he did great there. When Robinson Canó got suspended, many people worried at first, but because of Gordon’s second base wizardry in the past, the Mariners put him in Robbie’s spot. While Dee is batting a comparable .285 vs. Canó’s .287, Gordon’s reign at 2nd has seen exceptional defense and immensely better record (22 games over .500) than that of the $25 million superstar. Gordon is proof positive that the Mariners have improved and no longer need to rely on just one man to be good.
It is the pitching too
But even more than the hitting, the pitching has improved. Their ERA went from 4.46 as a team to 3.99. Felix Hernandez is still inconsistent, but Paxton of course is still killing it. Pax is obviously the best pitcher, but newcomers Mike Leake has given us 8 wins and former Gonzaga Bulldog Marco Gonzales has 10 wins. proving that general manager Jerry Dipoto has an eye for pitchers. And let’s not forget about another All-Star in Edwin Diaz who currently has seven more saves than any other closer on the team; is arguably the best closer in the league; and is on record pace to shatter the M’s save record.
#Mariners reliever Edwin Diaz tunneling his fastball and slider.
Both thrown on a similar horizontal plane; the slider showing a hard vertical break at the commit point to K Nolan Arenado. #MLB pic.twitter.com/6QVbiiXdpy
— Michael Augustine (@AugustineMLB) July 9, 2018
Who to look out for
Even though the Mariners are having a good season, there are two teams the Mariners still struggle against: the Yankees and Red Sox. It’s because they are the dominant teams in the MLB. First of all they each have great home records with 28-12 and 29-11, which is why we went 1-5 against them away. Also, the Yankees and Red Sox are loaded with talent; Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Didi Gregorious have all hit 15+ home runs for the Yankees. Luis Severino is one of the best starters in the MLB with 12 wins and a 2.10 ERA.
As for the Red Sox they have three great pitchers in Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price. And they arent so bad at the plate as they have JD Martinez, who has hit 28 home runs, and Mookie Betts with his league leading .352 average.
The Mariners’s best pitcher Paxton had rough starts against these teams, that dreadful second inning against the Sox (I can’t believe the bullpen and offense bailed him out in that game), and his four run first inning against the Yankees. (Also, do not ask me how the RAYS managed to sweep the Yankees after all of this)
As for the rest of the Mariners’ season, I expect them to still do well. Hopefully, they’ll be able to eventually figure out the Yankees and Red Sox and win more against them. But, they will still be better teams than the M’s. I do not mean to jinx them on this, but I think this is the year the Mariners will break the drought. The first half of the season has been completed, and the M’s are on pace for 100 wins. So, I definitely expect playoffs.