Instead of riding the insanity of every game in Seattle, what should we be looking at?
The Mariners inconsistency goes beyond their expectations and dives further into which team will show up each day. This team has had amazing pitching performances from the most expected (Felix Hernandez) to the least (Aaron Harang vs. San Diego), as well as hitting streaks from Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales.
Seattle has also suffered through horrible pitching, lackluster hitting, blown saves, walk-offs and the ever-painful 16th inning loss. Raul Ibanez switches from striking out every at-bat to launching monster home runs whenever he pleases.
How can the Mariners improve? What are the M’s looking at? Here are five expectations for this club in June.
1. How will Wedge manage the roster?
With catcher injuries, call-ups and send downs left and right, how will this team handle all of the changes? Dustin Ackley is hitting a ridiculous .378 in AAA, and his OBP is nearly .500.
When will Mike Zunino put the final piece together, or when will he be pushed into service too soon?
2. Nick Franklin
Opposing pitchers are going to figure out better ways to pitch to the kid, who has been nothing short of great since being called up. How he adjusts will be a big factor on this team’s ability to compete the rest of the season. So far, his numbers look really familiar.
Player A: .276/.400/.552 2 HR, 6 BB and 3 KO’s in first 9 games
Player B: .300/.364/.567 1 HR, 3 BB and 3 KO’s in first 9 games
Player A is Franklin, while player B is the recently replaced Dustin Ackley in his first 9 games. It’s early, and Franklin’s adaptability to big league play is insanely important for Seattle.
3. Pitching Staff
It is unreasonable to project that Hernandez (5th in AL ERA) and Hisashi Iwakuma (2nd) will continue this torrid pace.
Jeremy Bonderman will get the month to try to establish himself, but the Harang spot in the rotation may be up for grabs soon.
How will Blake Beavan do in his return from AAA for the second year in a row. Will he pitch well down the stretch? Beavan returned from Tacoma to pitch on July 17th, 2012, and finished the season with a 8-5 record, 3.40 and a 1.155 WHIP.
That sounds really nice right now. He looked darn good in last night’s performance 6 2/3, one hit, four strikeouts in relief of Harang.
Safeco Joe seems safe for now, hopefully his recent hot streak continues.
4. Tom Wilhelmsen
Who will Wilhelmsen be? Brandon League, the player who took the closer role and held it until he lost control and couldn’t throw a strike unless it was a fastball and lost his job., Or a successful closer who takes his lumps and gets better because of it?
5. Wins and losses
Call me a sucker, but the M’s play 18 home games in June and if they want any chance at a run in the second half, they will need to be within 4 games of .500.
If the M’s can finish June with a 13-8 or better record, this team will have more to play for than draft positioning.